Ketamine Abuse: Symptoms and Treatment

Ketamine is a prescription medication primarily used for anesthesia. In recent years, ketamine’s popularity has seen upward trends for its off-label medical uses, such as for managing treatment-resistant depression and chronic pain.

However, its dissociative properties and euphoric effects contribute to its addictive potential. The abuse of ketamine often occurs in social settings, clubs, and parties, making ketamine a popular recreational drug. When used illicitly, it can have profound health implications and potential for addiction.

Treatment Services

Various treatment options exist for ketamine abuse, including detox programs to manage withdrawal symptoms and residential or outpatient rehab programs that offer therapy and support. Behavioral therapies aim to modify harmful behaviors and thoughts linked to drug use.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may also be used, combining FDA-approved medications with counseling to address addiction. Support groups provide a supportive space for individuals to share experiences and gain encouragement from peers facing similar challenges.

These services play a vital part in helping individuals recover from ketamine abuse, providing tailored approaches to address both the physical and psychological aspects of drug addiction. Seeking treatment offers hope for a healthier, drug-free life.

Key Takeaways

Ketamine abuse refers to the misuse or recreational use of ketamine for its hallucinogenic effects. Here is what you need to know about this drug of abuse:

  • Ketamine misuse shows up in the form of physical and psychological symptoms and stems from various factors.
  • Abuse of ketamine can result in both short- and long-term health consequences, requiring medical help.
  • Various ketamine addiction treatment options are available, including medical detox and inpatient treatment.

The Recovery Team-Newton offers comprehensive treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Call us at (508) 978-2772 for more information.

Recognizing Ketamine Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

When individuals misuse ketamine, whether recreationally or in an attempt to self-medicate, it can lead to various physical and psychological symptoms. Here are some common symptoms of ketamine abuse:

  • Hallucinations and Delusions: Ketamine can induce hallucinations and delusions, causing individuals to perceive things that are not real or have distorted thoughts.
  • Impaired Coordination: Ketamine can affect motor function and coordination, leading to unsteady movements and difficulty controlling bodily movements.
  • Dissociation: One of the hallmark effects of ketamine is dissociation, where individuals feel detached from their bodies or the surrounding environment. This dissociative state can be disorienting and unsettling.
  • Changes in Perception of Reality: Ketamine abuse may lead to altered perceptions of reality, making it difficult for individuals to distinguish between what is real and what is not.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Regular use of ketamine can cause gastrointestinal distress, including nausea and vomiting.
  • Blurred Vision: Visual disturbances like blurred or double vision are common side effects of ketamine use.
  • Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Ketamine can cause high blood pressure and fast heart rate, which may pose risks, especially for individuals with cardiovascular issues.
  • Respiratory Depression: In high doses, ketamine can lead to respiratory depression, where breathing becomes slow and shallow. This can be dangerous and may require medical intervention.
  • Memory Impairment: Ketamine abuse may result in short-term memory loss and difficulties with concentration and focus.
  • Urinary Problems: Long-term ketamine use has been associated with urinary tract issues, including inflammation of the bladder and difficulty urinating.
  • Depression and Anxiety: Chronic ketamine abuse can contribute to mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.

When to Seek Treatment

Seeking treatment is crucial if any of the signs above become evident. In addition, if you experience persistent cravings for ketamine, continue using it despite adverse consequences, or show signs of physical or psychological dependence, seek professional help immediately.

Other signs you may need treatment for ketamine abuse include:

  • Interference with daily life activities.
  • Deterioration in mental or physical health.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit using the drug.

Verify your insurance with The Recovery Team-Newton to begin your treatment journey.

If a Loved One Needs Help

Approaching a loved one about their ketamine abuse requires care and understanding. Expressing concern without judgment and offering support is important to get them the help they need.

Encourage them to speak with a healthcare professional or seek addiction treatment. Be prepared for resistance or denial and maintain patience and persistence in guiding them toward assistance.

In cases of immediate danger to the individual’s health or safety due to ketamine abuse, consider involving emergency services or medical professionals promptly.

What Leads to Ketamine Abuse? Causes and Risk Factors

Ketamine, a hallucinogenic drug, has unfortunately found its way into the realm of substance abuse. People misuse it for recreational purposes, but this happens for various reasons. Here’s the breakdown:

Recreational Use

Ketamine abuse often begins with recreational use, where individuals seek the drug for its hallucinogenic effects. The desire for altered perceptions and dissociative experiences drives many to experiment with ketamine, leading to potential misuse.


The accessibility of ketamine plays a significant role in its abuse. As a legally used anesthetic, it may be obtained through various channels, making it more susceptible to recreational use and potential abuse.

Psychological Factors

Underlying psychological factors contribute to ketamine abuse. Individuals facing issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma may turn to ketamine as a means of self-medication, attempting to escape from their emotional struggles.

Peer Pressure and Influence

Peer pressure can strongly influence ketamine abuse, especially among young people. Social settings where ketamine is used recreationally can lead individuals to try the drug, driven by a desire to fit in or succumb to group influences.

Genetic Factors

Genetic predispositions may increase the likelihood of ketamine abuse. Individuals with a family history of substance abuse disorders may be more susceptible to developing similar issues, including ketamine misuse.

History of Personal Substance Abuse

A history of personal substance abuse serves as a risk factor for ketamine misuse. Individuals with a previous history of drug or alcohol abuse may be at a higher risk of experimenting with and abusing ketamine.

Co-Occurring Disorders

When someone experiences both substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously, known as co-occurring disorders, ketamine might be misused as a coping mechanism, leading to a cycle of dependency.

Environmental Factors

Stressful life events, such as relationship issues, work-related stress, or financial difficulties, can be triggers for ketamine abuse. Individuals may turn to the drug as a way to escape or numb themselves from overwhelming circumstances.

All these factors can intertwine, making it more likely for someone to misuse ketamine. It’s crucial to address these underlying issues to prevent and treat ketamine abuse.

Toll of Ketamine Abuse: Short and Long-Term Effects

Ketamine, when abused, can harm both physical and mental health. Here are the short- and long-term effects associated with misuse of ketamine:

Short-Term Effects

Ketamine abuse can swiftly induce various short-term effects. Initially, individuals might experience a sense of euphoria, altered perceptions, and hallucinations. This dissociative drug may also cause disorientation, dizziness, and impaired coordination.

Short-term memory loss and intense confusion are common occurrences during ketamine use. Physical effects can include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, leading to nausea and vomiting. The higher doses of ketamine can even cause “K-hole” experiences, where individuals feel detached from reality and unable to move or communicate.

Long-Term Effects

Prolonged ketamine abuse may lead to severe long-term consequences. Persistent abuse can result in damage to the bladder, known as ketamine-induced cystitis, causing frequent urination, pain, and even blood in the urine.

Cognitive difficulties can persist, including memory impairment and trouble concentrating. Chronic ketamine abuse might also lead to psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Tolerance and dependence may develop, leading to an increased risk of ketamine addiction.

As with any substance, individual reactions and susceptibility can vary, and the severity of these effects can depend on various factors, including dosage, frequency of use, and individual health conditions.

Managing Ketamine Abuse: Effective Treatments

Seeking treatment for ketamine abuse involves various approaches aimed at aiding individuals in recovery and achieving a substance-free life. Here are the most commonly used treatment programs:

Medical Detoxification

Medical detox, often the initial step, helps manage withdrawal symptoms in a safe and supervised setting. Medical professionals assist individuals in navigating the discomforts of withdrawal while ensuring their safety.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehabilitation provides individuals with intensive care and support in a supervised treatment facility. Therapy sessions, medical supervision, and a focus on recovery help break the cycle of ketamine abuse.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab allows individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily responsibilities. This flexible approach involves scheduled therapy sessions, counseling, and support groups, offering a balance between recovery and everyday life.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), play a pivotal part in addressing the root causes of drug abuse. These therapeutic approaches help individuals modify harmful thought patterns and behaviors, fostering sustainable recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under medical supervision to assist in managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT can enhance the effectiveness of overall treatment and support the recovery process.

Support Groups

Participating in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery, provides individuals with a sense of community and shared experiences. Peer support is invaluable in navigating recovery challenges and fostering a sense of belonging.

Comprehensive treatment for ketamine abuse often involves a combination of these approaches. Tailored treatment plans ensure individuals receive the necessary support to overcome the symptoms of ketamine addiction.

The Recovery Team-Newton: Guiding You to Renewed Hope

If you or a loved one is struggling with ketamine use disorder, remember that hope is never lost. At The Recovery Team-Newton, we believe in your strength and potential for a drug-free life.

Our day treatment programs are tailored to support your unique journey. We blend evidence-based therapies, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and dual diagnosis treatment to provide comprehensive care. Nothing is lost, and every day is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Reclaiming your life begins with a simple step – reach out to us today at (508) 978-2772 for more information.