Ketamine Addiction: Effects, Risks & Treatment

Ketamine, a medication known for its anesthetic properties, has been used in limited medical settings since the 1970s.1 However, alongside its legitimate medical uses, due to its ability to produce hallucinations and dissociative effects, ketamine has a known potential for diversion and misuse.1

 This page will explain what ketamine is, its licit and illicit uses, risks of misuse, and how to get help if you’re struggling with ketamine dependence or addiction.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug that can distort perception and creates a feeling of detachment from reality. Ketamine is used primarily in medical settings for induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. However, it is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, which makes it illegal for non-medical uses.1

On the illicit market, ketamine is commonly found as a clear liquid or a white powder, sometimes pressed into capsules.1 For illicit use, ketamine is sometimes evaporated down from liquid solution to powder form.Powdered ketamine can be snorted, rolled into joints with marijuana or tobacco, or mixed into drinks because it is odorless and tasteless.1,2
Most often used by younger people, ketamine is sometimes referred to as a “club drug” as it is popular with people going to raves and clubs.1 Other street names for ketamine include:3

  • Special K.
  • K.
  • Kit Kat.
  • Cat Valium.
  • Super acid.
  • Special La Coke.
  • Purple.
  • Jet.
  • Vitamin K.

Ketamine Medical Uses

The FDA has approved ketamine and its derivatives for specific and limited medical applications. As a general anesthetic, ketamine hydrochloride (Ketalar)3,4 is commonly used in surgeries and medical procedures. Additionally, esketamine (Spravato) is approved as an adjunctive therapy for treatment-resistant depression.3,5

Effects of Ketamine

Someone can feel the effects of ketamine within minutes of ingestion.1 These effects can vary in intensity and be unpredictable.2 Ketamine’s effects can also be influenced by the amount of ketamine used, other drugs that were used at the same time, and additional factors such as the individual’s health.2 Effects include:4,5

  • Confusion.
  • Agitation.
  • Dissociation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vertigo.
  • Hypoesthesia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Feeling “drunk.”

Ketamine Misuse Health Risks and Dangers

Ketamine misuse can lead to serious long-term health effects, especially for chronic users. Long-term use can lead to:

  • Severe abdominal cramps.7
  • Painful urination.4
  • Increased urinary frequency.4
  • Hydronephrosis (renal distension).4
  • Cystitis.4,5
  • Cognitive impairment.5,7
  • Memory impairment.5,7

Additionally, combining ketamine with other substances increases the risks of experiencing dangerous effects.6

Can You Overdose on Ketamine?

Ketamine overdose is relatively rare at lower doses.6 However, ketamine toxicity, which is associated with using higher amounts of ketamine, can lead to several potentially dangerous outcomes.

Signs of a ketamine overdose include:7

  • Respiratory depression.
  • Apnea.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Marked sedation.
  • Slowed heart rate.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Seizure.
  • Stupor.
  • Coma.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine can potentially be misused, which can lead to physical or psychological dependence in some cases.2 Dependence is a condition where a person’s body and mind have become so used to the presence of a substance that it needs the drug in order to function. Oftentimes, dependence is accompanied by withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is suddenly slowed or stopped.4

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite negative consequences. People with addiction continue to use drugs even when they know that the drug is causing problems in their lives.8

Only a medical professional can diagnose a hallucinogen use disorder, the clinical term for ketamine addiction, as there are specific diagnostic criteria. These criteria include:9

  • Taking ketamine in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended.
  • Trying and failing multiple times to control or stop ketamine use.
  • Spending a lot of time trying to get, use, or recover from ketamine use.
  • Having cravings or urges to use ketamine.
  • Failing to fulfill roles and responsibilities at work, home, or school because of ketamine use.
  • Continuing to use ketamine despite having social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by your ketamine use.
  • Giving up important activities at school, work, or with friends because of your ketamine use.
  • Continuing to use ketamine in physically dangerous situations.
  • Using ketamine despite knowing it has caused or worsened a physical or mental health problem.
  • Developing a tolerance for ketamine, meaning that you either need more of the drug to achieve the same effect or experiencing a significantly lessened effect when you use the same amount.

Withdrawal From Ketamine

While ketamine withdrawal is not as common as withdrawal from other substances, such as alcohol or opioids, it is possible.7 Symptoms of ketamine withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction in Mississippi

If you are seeking ketamine addiction treatment in Mississippi, help is available today at Oxford Treatment Center. We are an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi offering multiple levels of addiction treatment located on 110 beautiful acres of natural land.

For more information about rehab admissions, drug and alcohol rehab coverage, or questions about how to pay for addiction treatment, contact our admissions navigator team at any time, 24/7, for a free, private phone consultation. Remember that there is always time to take the first step to recovery, and reach out to Oxford Treatment Center today.


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