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AddictionAddiction TreatmentKetamine Addiction

Ketamine Addiction: Effects, Symptoms and Treatment

By November 16, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
two white tablets

Ketamine is an anesthetic which is used primarily in veterinary work, but is also sometimes used to treat people.

It induces a state of sedation and mind-body separation. Due to these effects, it is often misused for recreational purposes. Users can come to depend upon the physical and mental effects of ketamine, making it a potentially addictive substance.

Ketamine can be ingested ketamine in tablet form, injected, snorted, smoked or mixed into drinks. When taking it recreationally, users most often snort it or dissolve it in a drink. Its effects usually kick in within a few minutes and last around an hour. However, if a user takes a large amount, effects can persist for much longer and can be very intense and potentially dangerous. Ketamine is also more powerful per weight than other commonly used recreational drugs such as cocaine or speed. This makes the potential to overdose on ketamine very high.

Effects of Ketamine

The effects of ketamine depend on a range of factors. These include the amount taken, the method of ingestion, how often the user takes it and the user’s weight. The environment in which a person takes it may also influence their response. Any concurrent disorders a user has or any other substances they have ingested, including alcohol, may also affect the response.

Due to it’s sedating impact, ketamine can make physical movement difficult. It can also increase heart rate and breathing speed, and in some cases can also make breathing laboured. The drug can cause mental confusion, hallucinations and, in some cases, loss of consciousness.

Ketamine Overdose Effects

If someone has taken too much of the drug, they may experience what is some refer to as a “K-hole.” This is essentially a ketamine overdose, the initial effects of which can last for several hours and can be extremely distressing. A K-hole may involve visual or auditory hallucinations, intense anxiety or paranoia, and feelings of terror. Physical movement may also become extremely difficult. They often involve memory loss and users may later experience flashbacks. After the initial effects have worn off, users may feel exhausted and depressed. They will usually not remember much of what happened during the K-hole.

Dangers of Ketamine Use

As with most substances, a user’s tolerance will increase the more they use ketamine. This means that the likelihood of overdose also increases. Due to the drug’s physical effects, it is also extremely dangerous to drive or operate machinery while under its influence, even if its effects have mostly worn off.

As ketamine is an anesthetic, it also numbs pain, meaning someone under its influence may not realize that they have hurt themselves. They may continue to put pressure on an injured limb, for example, or fail to receive necessary medical attention. The drug can also induce nausea, which can lead to vomiting and therefore presents a danger of choking.

Ketamine also increases heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy and endocarditis. It can also cause long-term bladder and kidney problems. Sustained use can cause lasting damage to the memory. Research has also linked substantial ketamine use to psychosis.

Ketamine Addiction and Withdrawal

Ketamine is not physically addictive like other substances such as alcohol or opioids. However, a person can become dependent on its effects. Its pain reducing qualities make it particularly addictive. Heavy users may also find that they have come to need the drug in order to relax, socialize or sleep properly.

As the drug is not physically addictive, most withdrawal symptoms are psychological. Cases in which someone has been using ketamine to manage persistent pain are an exception to this. People who stop using the drug may also have trouble sleeping, or experience vivid, disturbing dreams.

Psychological Effects of Ketamine Withdrawal

In some cases, someone in withdrawal from ketamine may experience confusion, flashbacks or memory loss. They may also feel intense fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia or sudden anger. In some cases, users may find that they continue to experience cognitive impairment and decreased control of motor function for some time after ceasing use of the drug. Symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can last from a few days to several weeks. In cases involving kidney or bladder damage, the effects may be much longer-lasting. This is also the case when misuse of the drug has caused issues with memory or has triggered psychosis.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

At Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres, we use a number of evidence-based methods which have been proven effective in treating ketamine addiction. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, individual therapy and group counselling. We use these techniques at our inpatient rehab centers and outpatient addiction counselling clinic to provide clients with the strongest possible foundation for recovery. Cognitive behavioural therapy and individual therapy allow clients to identify underlying causes and consequences of their addictions. They also help them to identify relapse triggers and methods for dealing with them. All of our clinical staff are highly qualified and experienced in treating addiction. We also offer withdrawal management, couples or family therapy and skills and processes group sessions as components of our treatment.

Long-term Recovery from Ketamine Addiction

As recovery is a lifelong process, our treatment does not stop with the completion of an addiction treatment program. Through our Aftercare, ContinUcare and Continuation of Care programs, we provide our clients with dedicated, ongoing support for many months after inpatient or outpatient program is completed. This ensures that they do not become isolated in their recovery, that their progress is consistently monitored by clinical staff, and that they have a dedicated support network constantly available.

If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s ketamine use, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today and take the first step towards a sober, balanced life.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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