What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a short-acting, dissociative injected anesthetic (blocks sensory perception) that has been available by prescription in the U.S. since the 1970s for human and veterinary uses. It is typically used to provide pain relief, sedation, and short-term memory loss for surgeries. Ketamine is sometimes employed in the withdrawal process for other addictions, mainly for cocaine and alcoholism. Most recently, a form of Ketamine was approved in the treatment 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.
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 there are many other effects that, in combination with other substances, can be dangerous.
Short-Term Effects of Ketamine
- Dream-like feeling
- Out-of-body experience
- Blurred vision
- Jerky muscle movements
- Raised heart rate and blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- “K-hole” (refers to the out-of-body, near-death experience)
Long-Term Effects of Ketamine
- Psychotic episodes
- Ulcers and pain in the bladder
- Kidney problems
- Stomach pain
- Poor memory
Ketamine Abuse and Addiction
Ketamine can be very 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 the drug use over previously enjoyed activities
- Worsening mental health
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 they are 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
If you suspect an overdose of Ketamine, immediately call 911, check if the victim is responsive, and monitor them until help arrives.
The following symptoms are commonly experienced after extended use of Ketamine:
- Teary eyes
- Drug cravings
Ketamine Addiction Treatment
Drug abuse with Ketamine can be life-ruining, for those that are addicted and their loved ones. Fortunately, there are many 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
There are numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment options for Ketamine abuse that 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.
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 to witness 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 as well, 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.
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.