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Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine creates hallucinogenic effects that distort your perception of sights and sounds, making you feel out of control and detached from the world around you or any pain you’re feeling. These effects make it a commonly abused substance.

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What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a short-acting, dissociative-injected anesthetic (blocks sensory perception) available by prescription in the U.S. since the 1970s for human and veterinary uses. It is typically used to relieve pain, sedation, and short-term memory loss for surgeries. Ketamine is sometimes employed in the withdrawal process for other addictions, mainly cocaine addiction and alcoholism. Most recently, a form of Ketamine was approved for treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine is a Schedule III dissociative drug that works by disrupting the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) glutamate, which is involved with learning, memory, emotion, and pain recognition. It has recently been shown to help tremendously with treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine, when used illegally, is commonly considered a club drug or a date rape drug and can be found alone or mixed with drugs like MDMA, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine. The drug is usually sold as a white powder for snorting or smoking or in a liquid form for swallowing or injecting.

Ketamine Prescriptions

For human use:

    • Ketamine Hydrochloride (Ketamine HCL)
    • Ketalar (Ketamine Hydrochloride Injection)
    • Spravato (Esketamine Nasal Spray)

For feline use:

  • Ketaset (Ketamine Hydrochloride Injection)

Side Effects of Ketamine Use

Most people report feeling sedated and disconnected from the world when they take Ketamine, but many other effects can be dangerous in combination with other substances.

Short-Term Effects of Ketamine

  • Dream-like feeling
  • Out-of-body experience
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Jerky muscle movements
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Raised heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • “K-hole” (refers to the out-of-body, near-death experience)

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine

  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoria
  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Ulcers and pain in the bladder
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach pain
  • Poor memory

Ketamine Abuse and Addiction

Ketamine can be addictive due to its dissociative, dream-like effects, so it is frequently abused. Through extended use, it’s common for addicts to develop physical dependence and psychological dependence on Ketamine.

Some users become addicted for social reasons, while others become addicted for pain management. Whatever the cause, Ketamine was never intended for extended use, and the effects of abusing it can be very dangerous.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

The following symptoms can indicate Ketamine addiction:

  • Intense craving for the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using it
  • Requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect
  • Prioritizing drug use over previously enjoyed activities
  • Worsening mental health

Ketamine Overdose

Ketamine can make the user unresponsive to stimuli, so some symptoms might not be overtly obvious. This is why it’s important to carefully monitor the person while under its effects, especially when combined with alcohol, opioids, and caffeine. The most common overdose symptoms include:

  • Weak or irregular heart rate
  • Weak or shallow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations

If you suspect an overdose of Ketamine, immediately call 911, check if the victim is responsive, and monitor them until help arrives.

Ketamine Withdrawal

The following symptoms are commonly experienced after extended use of Ketamine:

  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Excitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Teary eyes
  • Drug cravings
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Ketamine Addiction Treatment

Drug abuse with Ketamine can be life-ruining, for those addicted and their loved ones. Fortunately, there are many ketamine addiction treatment programs available to assist you in your recovery. With the help of trained physicians and the support of family and friends, a life without Ketamine is possible.

Ketamine Detox phase

Detoxing off Ketamine can be a disorienting, difficult process. The withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant and, in some situations, dangerous if not attended to by a physician.

If abuse of Ketamine is severe enough, it is recommended that you quit the drug under medical supervision to mitigate these harmful withdrawal symptoms.

Ketamine Treatment Programs

Numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment options for Ketamine abuse take into consideration your situation and mental health concerns.

Many sufferers find great success with cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, group therapy, and rational emotive behavioral therapy. You will learn the causes of your addiction, its triggers, and how to avoid abusing a substance in the future.

Ketamine Statistics

According to the American Journal of Public Health, there has been an increase in recreational use and availability of Ketamine in recent years—particularly in 2019, coinciding with the drug’s FDA approval for depression. The highest prevalence of recreational ketamine use—0.9 percent—was reported in late 2019.

In the same study, it was reported that the rate of Ketamine seizures increased from 2000 through 2019, with seizures reaching a peak in 2019 at 3.2 per 1000 seizures.

Support for Friends and Family Members

If someone you care about is struggling with substance abuse with Ketamine, it can be an incredibly frustrating and scary process. Ketamine’s dissociative effects can be frightening and make it even harder to cope with.

While you may want to ensure they get the help they need, it’s just as important that you get the help you need, whether that’s someone outside the situation to lean on or professional counseling. Remember you’re also suffering from the effects of their addiction and deserve help, too.

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Centric Behavioral Health, our paid treatment center sponsor, is available 24/7:
Learn More About Centric or For Immediate Treatment Help, Call (888) 694-1249.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ketamine

How quickly does Ketamine work?

An injection can have an effect in seconds to minutes, “snorting” leads to effects in roughly 5 to 15 minutes (this is the most common method of abuse), and oral consumption requires between 5 and 30 minutes.

Can Ketamine be used as a “date rape” drug?

Yes. It’s very common to become completely unaware of your surroundings and unable to control your body when Ketamine is ingested. This, unfortunately, makes Ketamine a common tool for date rape as many could perceive a drugged person as simply too drunk to walk or take themselves home.

What are the common street names for Ketamine?

Special K, Cat Valium, Kit Kat, K, Super Acid, Super K, Purple, Special La Coke, Jet, and Vitamin K.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Ketamine: Modern drug of abuse? (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

  2. Ketamine. DEA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

  3. Ketamine uses, side effects & warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

  4. Benisek, A. (n.d.). Ketamine for addiction: What to know. WebMD. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

  5. RxList. (2021, November 15). Ketamine HCL uses, images & side effects. RxList. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

  6. The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) from the American Public Health Association (APHA) publications. American Journal of Public Health. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from 

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