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Ketamine Addiction Statistics

Ketamine abuse has increased considerably over the past 20 years. While ketamine does have valuable medical uses, it is also used in ways other than medically directed, usually for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. The popularity of ketamine as a recreational or club drug has led to an increase in both ketamine abuse rates, which increases the risk for ketamine addiction.

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What is the Scope of Ketamine Use?

According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, roughly 11% of the world population used ketamine (also known by street names Special K or cat Valium) in 2018.

Worldwide, recreational ketamine use and abuse is most prevalent in East and Southeast Asia.

From 2007 to 2010, ketamine was the second-most popular drug of abuse in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, from 1996 to 2000, 9% of all fatal drug and alcohol-related single-car crashes resulted from ketamine use.

Ketamine Abuse in the U.S.

In 2020, 1.1 million Americans tried a hallucinogen for the first time, including ketamine. Other hallucinogenic drugs include LSD, PCP, and MDMA.

Recreational use of ketamine may involve snorting the white powder form or injecting the liquid form of it.

As of 2015, a reported 3 million Americans had tried ketamine in their lifetime (between the ages of 12 and 25).

Overall, ketamine abuse in the U.S. remains low, as 1% or less of the population abuses ketamine, according to New York University.

The highest percentage of recreational ketamine use in the U.S. was reported in 2019 at 0.9%.

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Medical Ketamine Use

As a Schedule III controlled substance, ketamine has been used in medical settings for anesthesia since the 1970s. No available statistics show the scope of ketamine use as a dissociative medical anesthetic.

A recent study on mental health was conducted on the uses of ketamine and its side effects during a clinical trial treating depression in more than 41,000 patients.

Depression symptoms were reported half as often in people who took ketamine compared to those who didn’t.

In medical settings, ketamine is used by healthcare providers in injection form or by oral administration.

Who Abuses Ketamine?

Ketamine abuse is most common among people ages 16 to 25 in the U.S.

The average ketamine abuser is male and around the age of 31.

Sadly, people have also used ketamine as a date rape drug since it can cause sedation and memory loss.

Number of Teens Abusing Ketamine

The number of 12th graders using ketamine in the U.S. in 2020 was 1.3% of all 12th graders.

Twelfth graders who abused ketamine reported certain reasons for trying the drug, including t depression symptoms and wanting to experience the effects of ketamine.

The overall percentage of teen use of ketamine is not separated from adult ketamine use. However, less than 1% of teens and adults in the U.S. use this substance recreationally.

Number of Adults Abusing Ketamine

In the U.S., a reported 210,392 adults ages 18 and over reported past-year ketamine use between 2015 and 2019, according to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

How Many People Have a Ketamine Addiction?

Ketamine users often have other drug use or substance abuse issues.

Because of this, it is difficult to determine the number of people with a ketamine-related substance use disorder alone.

What’s important to understand is that ketamine abuse (recreational use of ketamine, using ketamine in high doses) increases the risk of developing a ketamine addiction.

Ketamine use rates are low in the U.S. compared to the general population and other drug use statistics.

However, ketamine abuse still affects over one million Americans per year on average, according to national survey data.

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How Many People Experience a K-Hole on Ketamine?

A ‘K-hole’ refers to the symptoms a person experiences when using high doses of ketamine.

Like ketamine addiction statistics, it is difficult to determine the exact number of people who experience a K-hole (described as an out-of-body experience). This lack of data is partly because not everyone with this negative experience will report it.

Ketamine Overdose Statistics

In the United States, there is little data on ketamine overdose.

Most ketamine-related overdoses are the result of mixing ketamine with other substances.

A ketamine overdose may occur from taking a high dose of ketamine or from mixing ketamine with alcohol or other drugs.

Important ketamine overdose rates and facts to know:

  • In 2011, more than 1,500 emergency department visits were ketamine-related.
  • Of those visits, over 70% involved a mixture of ketamine and alcohol.
  • Rates of ketamine poisoning (ketamine toxicity) in the U.S. remain low.
  • In 2014, 1 people per 1,000,000 people who reported to ER departments were shown to have ketamine poisoning.
  • The ketamine-related emergency department rates have decreased in the past few decades.
  • In 1974, 74% of all emergency department visits involved ketamine, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.

Worldwide, ketamine overdoses are more common, especially in East and Southeast Asia, where seizures caused by ketamine outnumber heroin-related seizures.

Ketamine Withdrawal Statistics

Ketamine withdrawal is a process that occurs when someone with a ketamine drug addiction tries to stop taking the substance.

No specific data on the number of people who experience ketamine withdrawal symptoms is available. Yet anyone with a ketamine substance use disorder could experience withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms from ketamine may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Intense cravings
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
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How Many People Die From Ketamine Use?

All deaths and near-death experiences attributed to ketamine also involved other drugs. As a result, there isn’t exact data on the number of people who have died due to ketamine use alone.

However, ketamine is reported in many overdose emergency room visits annually in the U.S.

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

If you or someone you know is facing ketamine abuse or addiction, it’s important to remember that help is available.

Ketamine treatment traditionally consists of detox followed by inpatient or outpatient rehab and therapy.

Ketamine Detox

Before therapy and rehab can begin, the first step is eliminating all the ketamine in your system. This process is known as detoxing.

During the detox process, ketamine withdrawal symptoms are common. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that ketamine detox occur under some form of medical supervision.

Self-detoxing should not be attempted without consulting a physician or licensed treatment professional.

Drug Rehab Programs

A ketamine rehab program can help you break your substance abuse habits, including a psychological dependence on ketamine.

These programs may offer behavioral therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy (talk therapy), which can help you break your substance use habits and replace them with healthy coping skills.

Rehab programs may also address any co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders, offer relapse prevention planning, and connect you with aftercare.

Support Groups

Recovery from any type of addiction, including ketamine addiction, is something you have to work on for the rest of your life.

Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (for addiction to opioids) and SMART Recovery can be valuable tools for you as you continue your recovery journey.

A support group can provide a safe and supportive environment to share what you are going through with others who have had similar experiences.

Get Help for a Ketamine Use Issue

While ketamine addiction is not nearly as common as other substance abuse issues, when left untreated, it can still lead to significant side effects.

If you or a loved one are battling substance abuse or addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

Or, you can visit their online treatment program locator to find ketamine addiction treatment options in your area.

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Ketamine Statistics FAQs

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a drug that was originally designed and developed as an anesthetic.

Today, in addition to anesthesia, ketamine is used medically as a pain reliever as well as a medication to treat certain types of seizures and mental health conditions.

Who is most likely to abuse ketamine?

Recreational ketamine is popular among teens and young adults in the nightclub and rave scene. Men are also more likely to abuse ketamine than women.

What do statistics say about ketamine addiction?

There is little data in the U.S. on ketamine addiction and overdose. In most cases of ketamine-related addiction, the ketamine was mixed with another substance of abuse.

In general, rates of ketamine use in the U.S. remain low compared to rates of other forms of drug use.

How many people in the U.S. are estimated to be using ketamine?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 3 million people aged 12 and older had used ketamine in their lifetime in 2015.

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.

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  6. New York University (2021, October 7). “Recreational Ketamine Use Has Increased in Recent Years, But Remains Rare.” Retrieved January 20, 2024 from
  7. UC San Diego Health (2017 May 3). “First Large-Scale Population Analysis Reinforces Ketamine’s Reputation as Antidepressant.” Retrieved January 20, 2024 from
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  9. ResearchGate (2000 June). Journal of Forensic Sciences. “Ketamine in Non-Hospital and Hospital Deaths in New York City.” Retrieved January 20, 2024, from
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