Ketamine Addiction and Rehabilitation

Ketamine Addiction Rehab Header
Last Edited: March 17, 2020
Patricia Howard, LMFT, CADC
Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Dangers of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine is quickly becoming the most prominent hallucinogenic club drug in the 21st century. Marketed since the 1970’s for use as an anesthetic for humans and animals, Ketamine has since become popular for recreational use. Most Ketamine use occurs at raves and in clubs. Many people that are using the drug obtain it through friends and acquaintances and rarely do street sales.

There are many dangers of Ketamine abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that most of the Ketamine in the United States has been stolen from legitimate sources or comes illegally from Mexico. Ketamine that is currently sold on the streets is cut with other harmful and addictive chemicals. Ketamine is extremely dangerous, due to the unpredictability of compounds contained as well as its potency.

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Ketamine is a powerful drug that produces vivid and dream-like hallucinations. Used legitimately as a horse tranquilizer, it works by cutting off communication between the body and brain. With the body asleep, the mind becomes isolated, deprived of normal sensory perception.

Street Names for Ketamine

Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder. Powdered ketamine (100 milligrams to 200 milligrams) typically is packaged in small glass vials, small plastic bags, and capsules as well as paper, glassine, or aluminum foil folds. Ketamine has many different street names, including: Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet, Jet K, K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K.

Ketamine Effects

Ketamine use is risky; it is meant to put humans and animals under sedation. This anesthetic allows for surgery and other painful operations to be conducted. When used recreationally, safety protocols are not usually followed, and when snorted, injected or ingested, serious side effects can occur.

The effects of Ketamine involve sedation and pain relief. It causes a trance like state, memory loss and relieves pain. The effects make it a great drug for treating people and animals in intensive care, surgical treatments and severe chronic pain.

Effects of Ketamine include extreme calmness, auditory and visual hallucinations, dissociation, dilated, pupils, memory loss, suppressed respiration, rapid alternations in blood pressure, paranoid ideations and delusions.

Warning signs of Ketamine abuse in a loved one

When a loved one is abusing drugs and alcohol, it can be difficult to figure out what is causing which problems. Ketamine is primarily a club drug, as it is most often distributed at raves and clubs. Warning signs of Ketamine abuse could be just about anything out of the ordinary; anti-social behavior should be cause for concern. Ketamine is short-acting and powerful and is unlikely to be used around the clock. Signs of Ketamine abuse are:

If your loved one has displayed a changed in behavior characterized by distancing oneself and a lack of communication, this could be cause for concern. A person using Ketamine is unlikely to freely admit his or her using to parents or non-using friends.

Another sign might be aggressive and defensive behaviors. Anger, emotional outbursts and any other anti-social behavior could signify a problem. Happy, well-balanced people rarely use Ketamine. Use of this drug signifies other problems, such as depression.

Given that Ketamine is an anesthetic administered via an IV or otherwise snorted, another red flag would be any visible injection sights or irritated nasal pathways. Additionally, unusual sedation or drowsiness might suggest more than normal tiredness.

Factual Dangers: Ketamine

If you suspect that a friend or family member is using Ketamine, action is needed to save his or her life. Ketamine is rarely used alone. Most users are poly-drug users and use of Ketamine suggests that the person’s drug use has reached dangerous levels. Having a loved one in active addiction can be a challenging experience. However, there is hope. With hard work and dedication, he or she can discover a better and sober life than before.

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Transformation House - Ferry Street, MN
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True Stories of Addiction:

Daniel started abusing a drug like Ketamine at a young age. His addiction brought him down and he was given two options: go to prison or enlist in the military. Watch his story of recovery. – View all episodes now

Ketamine Rehab Treatment

Ketamine is so powerful and dangerous that anyone using it recreationally should consider rehab. Ketamine use indicates a serious problem that must be addressed if the person using is to stay well. A competent treatment center will address all factors contributing to the use of this drug. Through therapies and other healing techniques, the individual will learn healthier coping skills and other ways to handle stress.

In addition, while addiction treatment in a biological and psychological sense is crucial, any effective program should utilize specific interventions and strategies that target social elements surrounding the addiction, such as support groups and meetings. Additionally, there are other chemical and biological elements that play into Ketamine addiction. Usually, individuals who have psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression that have not been diagnosed or treated may turn to drugs to self-medicate.

There are high rates of poly-drug use in Ketamine using populations. Most people who are willing to try Ketamine have already tried other, less intense drugs, such as Alcohol, Marijuana, and prescription pills. Treatment centers must be able to address any other drug or alcohol use, not just Ketamine alone. The best addiction treatment centers will provide a tailored program for each person so that everyone gets the help needed. – Learn More

Ketamine Detox Treatment

If you or a loved one has become addicted to or regularly use Ketamine, you will need to detox before beginning your journey in rehab. The detox process is feared by many who have withdrawn from substances at home or without proper medical supervision. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe and the experience unnerving, especially if you are detoxing alone.

People who use Ketamine more than once rarely are mono-drug users; frequently, the person will also use Alcohol and other drugs. When it comes time to detox, the poly-drug use can make the situation unpredictable and dangerous. Some drugs and Alcohol cause life-threatening seizures when ceased suddenly. To safely and assuredly complete the detox process, it is recommended to anyone using Ketamine to enter a medical detox center. Professionals in a medical detox center have the access and the expert knowledge to help you through this tiring process.

These medical professionals will provide around the clock supervision and support, leaving you nothing to worry about. Medications and other healing aids may be used to help minimize physical and mental strain and ensure the safety of the individual. If you or anyone you know is using Ketamine, encourage him or her to enter a detox facility today. If inpatient detox is not an option, consult a physician before beginning the detox process. – Learn More

Addiction to Ketamine

Addiction is now accepted as a disease by the medical community. Characterized by compulsive drug seeking and using and continuing to use despite negative consequences, addiction is one of the greatest threats to health and happiness today. Nearly one in ten Americans qualify as having a substance abuse issue, according to the Center for Disease Control, CDC.

Addiction to Ketamine is best described in general addiction terms. The compulsive need for more drugs to reach the original high. This perpetual downward spiral has sent many Americans to institutions, jails, and the grave. Someone with a Ketamine addiction will feel as though they must have the drug. In essence, the brain reroutes circuits and reprioritizes everything and puts the drug ahead of all else, even survival. Ketamine is extremely dangerous, more so than some other addictive substances. If you have a loved one who has become addicted to Ketamine, keep in mind that the person is ill and not thinking clearly. He or she may truly feel a survival instinct pull towards taking the drug, even though it is clearly killing him or her.

Addiction is a brain disease that often is characterized by relapses and general ups and downs. Do not give up hope that a brighter future will come if you and your loved one gets the help needed. Reach out and start living a better life in sobriety today. – Learn More

Ketamine Dependency

Dependence differs from addiction in a few ways. Primarily, it suggests that an individual needs the drug or drink to feel normal. The possibility of feeling high, or better than normal, is no longer feasible. The drug only allows the person to stop feeling sick and back to his or her normal baseline.

Ketamine dependence poses significant risk to the individual. Prolonged Ketamine use causes an increasingly high chance of developing brain damage from this powerful drug’s effects. Each use of Ketamine is a roll of the proverbial dice. Coma and death are real possibilities every time a person takes Ketamine. Ketamine dependence is marked by the need for Ketamine simply to feel okay. The cause of dependence can be physical, psychological, emotional or a combination of these. Experiencing a lack of Ketamine could feel like, if not worse than, a bad flu. Body aches, chills, extreme fatigue, anxiety and depression are just a few of the common symptoms associated with a lack of Ketamine.

A person with a Ketamine dependence needs help. He or she is suffering from the symptoms of a disease and may require your assistance to overcome the situation. The best way to communicate with someone in active addiction is to stage an intervention. Hopefully, the individual will choose treatment. Inpatient rehab should be recommended to anyone dependent on Ketamine. – Learn More

Seeking help for a loved one

  • How Do Ketamine Interventions Work?
    A close group of family and friends will have a pre-written letter that expresses love and concern for their loved ones Ketamine addiction which will hopefully push him or her to accept the help that is offered.
  • Will an Intervention Save My Ketamine Addicted Loved One from Abuse?
    It will certainly help him or her, even if he or she does not accept Ketamine treatment. If your loved one does not accept Ketamine treatment, he or she will know it is there for him or her in the future.

Intervention for Ketamine Abuse

If you know someone using Ketamine, who has no intention of ceasing use, or is in denial about his or her use, an intervention may be necessary. Interventions generally consist of loved ones and concerned parties directly related to the addicted individual. Each person will clearly outline his or her genuine concern for the individual. A professional may be consulted or attend the event to keep the conversation positive and supportive. The presence of a professional often has a calming effect on the individual and promotes progress.

Interventions are the best way to communicate with a loved one who’s addiction is negatively affecting his or her life. Often, people in active addiction are unwilling to honestly discuss his or her use. Understandably, the person may feel ashamed or embarrassed by how much, how often or what is used. As the person has turned to drugs to cope, he or she may have difficulty communicating feelings. The intervention is a loving a supportive way of breaching the gap between the person and his or her loved ones.

If the intervention is successful, the person using will likely see the consequences of his or her use, and be motivated to change and begin the treatment process. This stage of the recovery process is the most important. As the first step to fighting addiction is admitting that one has an addiction, an intervention often acts as a precursor to this step, enabling the person to start down a healthier, happier path. This is where the recovery process begins. – Learn More

Recovery from Ketamine Abuse

When caught in the cycle of using and abusing substances, the prospect of living without drugs or Alcohol can seem impossible. After all, these mood-altering and mind-altering substances are all that kept intolerable emotions and sensations at bay. Drugs and Alcohol helped get through the day, the night, the week. Everything else seemed transient or unnecessary compared to the calmness, the energy, the pain relief of drugs.

Life without drugs is like opening the door of a locked cage into a bright, big world full of possibilities. The drugs deceptively make people believe that drugs and alcohol solve problems, when in fact these substances are the cause of more problems than people realize. Drugs and Alcohol continuously trap people in increasingly worse situations, all the while convincing the person that they are helping the situation. Recovery from Ketamine addiction is possible if you are willing to do the work. Whether you go to an inpatient treatment center or attend local 12-step meetings, there is hope. There are many different 12-step programs to choose from, each of which is based on the same core principles and steps.

Once free from Ketamine and all other mind-altering substances, you will start experiencing joy, friendship and wonder like you never thought possible. The wealth of possibilities will be seemingly overwhelming. But never forget: you deserve this wonderful life – and it’s yours if you reach out and ask for help. Find a 12-step meeting in your area today.

  • Is Professional Treatment Necessary for Ketamine Recovery?
    No, however, it is very helpful to aid you in your Ketamine recovery journey and is highly recommended.
  • Will I Have to Stop Talking to My Family When I Recover From Ketamine?
    No, in fact, your family will be more involved on your life while you are recovering from your Ketamine addiction because you will be able to be present.

Dangers of Ketamine Overdose

Ketamine overdose is easy to achieve. An overdose is taking more than the body can handle such that vital systems are threatened. In the case of sedatives, these critical functions are the heart and breathing. Taking too much Ketamine can cause depressed breathing to the extent that a person suffocates. The heart rate can be lowered to dangerous levels where not enough oxygen is reaching the brain and thus causing brain damage or death, or it can simply stop. Additionally, the sedative properties of Ketamine can induce a coma when used in excess which may result in permanent damage or death.

Like many other Hallucinogenic or club drugs, there remains a chance of developing psychosis. Less severe overdoses, such that death is not immediately induced, can cause a deterioration in mental and emotional state such that the person should be considered a danger to self and others. Other side effects can occur; if someone has taken Ketamine and displays aggressive behavior, the best course of action is to call 911. Side effects are common, even when used in a proper medical setting. These adverse effects could include anything from a rash to inability to breathe.

If you or someone else may have overdosed on Ketamine the only option is to call emergency services and get the person to a hospital. Ketamine overdose is extremely dangerous and almost certainly deadly without proper medical intervention. If you have any doubt about the welling being of someone who has taken Ketamine, please, call 911. – Learn More

Ketamine Use, Abuse and Dependency

First tested on prisoners in 1964, Ketamine was approved by the FDA in 1970. Vietnam soldiers were first to experience its effects when being put under anesthesia. It quickly became the most used drug on the battlefield during the war.

Ketamine now ranks on the World Health Organization’s Essential Drugs List. It is considered a core medicine and fundamental to meet the needs of people in a rudimentary healthcare system. It is necessary for surgical procedures as other sedative hypnotics can cause serious complications. Its discovery and use replaces its predecessor, PCP, for use as a dissociative anesthetic. PCP has a much longer half-life than Ketamine, and can cause more severe adverse effects.

Despite Ketamine’s practical uses, it’s fame comes from its popularity for recreational use. As early as its approval from the FDA in 1970, reports of nonmedical use of Ketamine exist. Some suggest that Ketamine use began on the West Coast of the United States with underground raves and parties.

Ketamine use increased steadily over the next several decades, quickly becoming a sought-after club drug. Worldwide popularity was on the rapid rise, especially in Asia and Europe. Its prominence was partially due to its relative ease of access. Until 1999, Ketamine was not federally controlled; people could purchase pure Ketamine in bulk from chemical companies with no significant licensing necessary.

Ketamine use has increased to present day. Use of this drug is particularly problematic for several reasons. In high doses, Ketamine induces a “K-hole,” which is a state of such profound dissociation and hallucinations that the user may lose memory of one or more days after ingestion. This state of extreme separation from reality and self can spell horrendous consequences for the individual.

Ketamine causes dissociative state where one feels detached from his or her body, known as depersonalization. It also causes derealization, a state of altered perception and experience of the world around the person. In small doses, it creates a sense of euphoria, pain suppression and hallucinogenic effects. Essentially, the person will feel happy, pain free and experience delightful hallucinations such as colors and sensations.

Given the unknown aspect of all illegal and street drugs, however, the actual dosage and compounds being consumed is unpredictable. Dosing appropriate amounts requires training and a medical setting. A little too much can mean the difference between euphoria and a life-threatening coma.

Due to its effects of sedation, memory loss and confusion, Ketamine is a popular date rape drug. Users of Ketamine can easily use too much or accidentally take the drug and find themselves in exceptionally vulnerable situations. More than a few instances of Ketamine being sold as other drugs have been reported.

Imagine being at a club. You’re out with new friends in a new city and are eager to find your niche. You’re offered some Cocaine, which you have done before at friends’ parties and had a lot of fun. Your snort a line and head to the dance floor. Instead of experiencing that burst of energy, however, reality sort of tunnels out of view. You wake up in a strange place, strange bed, and sore. The last thing you remember is a few days ago. This is what Ketamine can do.

In addition to its dangers as a date rape drug, Ketamine poses significant risk to all its users. Some of the original recreational users of Ketamine who documented their drug escapades died while on the drug. One drowned in a pool while another died of hypothermia. Additionally, in an eight-year span in the UK, 90 people died after taking Ketamine. The deaths included accidents, drownings, suicides, poisonings and other fatal experiences. In response, the UK tightened regulations surrounding the drug.

It’s not surprising that someone who takes a drug meant to sedation large animals would be at significant risk. After all, minor differences in body chemistry, tolerance and other factors can mean the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death. Any drug that causes a person to be sedated and unable to differentiate the real from delusion is an extremely risky drug.

Ketamine’s bizarre and unpredictable effects can also lead people to make uncharacteristic decisions. Drugs are often willfully used as a motivator and helper to act in certain situations. Many people use Alcohol to overcome shyness. People use Ecstasy to connect to others and enhance sexual experiences. And Ketamine will remove reality altogether.

The problem with removing reality and self is that eventually you return to normal consciousness and must face the consequences of what happened. Disease is a huge problem for many drug users. Unprotected sex and needle sharing have dramatically altered people’s lives. One bad decision can mean a life-time of medication and maintenance, and that’s for the lucky ones. For some it means an untimely, painful and slow death. – Learn More.

  • What Are Some Common Short-term Effects of Ketamine Abuse?
    Ketamine presents many negative side-effects including anxiety, sleepiness, confusion and memory loss.
  • How Do I Prevent Myself from Having Short-term Effects from Ketamine?
    If you are addicted to Ketamine, the only way to prevent side effects is to stop abusing the drug.

Short-term effects

Ketamine is a power anesthetic used by veterinarians as a tranquilizer for large animals. Not surprisingly, a drug that renders a horse unconscious can cause serious complications and potentially death. There are many short-term effects of Ketamine abuse, such as: unconsciousness, confusion, slowed breathing, sedation, dream-like states, hallucinations, memory loss, increased blood pressure, difficulty with learning and problems with attention, moving and speaking.

This powerful sedative-hypnotic often causes an impairment of motor functioning and cognition. The person is put in a trance-like state with hallucinations and delusions. The person is therefore in an extremely vulnerable state. Ketamine is used as a date rape drug because it renders people unconscious and pliable. The impaired motor functioning often leads to injuries. Decreased cognitive ability and pain suppression can also create situations where the person is seriously injured or killed. Changes in emotions and personality have also been documented, leading to suicidal thoughts, actions and aggressive behavior linked to delirium.

Individuals using Ketamine are also at substantial risk of developing permanent brain damage due to its reality distorting properties. As Ketamine is often distributed at raves and clubs, there is a significant probability of it having been cut or mixed with another substance. Given the unpredictability of what is being received and in what dosage, Ketamine use is unusually risky.

Long-term effects

Long-term use of Ketamine comes with considerable risk and lasting effects. Not only does Ketamine have serious primary health consequences, but also secondary consequences. Prolonged use causes considerable strain on the user’s heart, increasing risk for heart-attack, heart disease and other ailments. Continued use also often results in kidney failure, which may cause several other health issues. Urinary tract infections and failure is commonly associated with excessive Ketamine use.

Ketamine addiction or prolonged use of the drug is highly dangerous, not only for mental health but for physical health as well. Some of the long-term effects are brain lesions, ulcers, depressions, stomach pain, poor memory, bladder pain, and kidney problems. Additionally, Ketamine is often cut with other kinds of drugs and toxins. The long-term effects of the cutting agent differ depending on the substance and the amount, however, it is likely to be negative.

Long term effects of Ketamine can also result in permanent damage to the brain as well as sudden death. This brain damage can be mild to severe, potentially rendering a person unable to care for him or herself. Such a situation requires life-long parental support or institutionalization. Bad judgment regarding unprotected sex or the sharing of needles can have devastating effects. Use of Ketamine puts on at risk of infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis. Other potential devastation comes when a person under the effect of Ketamine decides to drive

  • Will There Be Consequences if I Keep Abusing Ketamine?
    Yes. You can build a tolerance, which eventually leads to an addiction. Once addicted, if you run out of Ketamine, your body will start going through withdrawal that can end in fatality if not taken care of.
  • Will Ketamine Addiction Harm More Than My Health?
    A Ketamine addiction can lead to financial trouble and destroy family and friend relationships.

True Stories of Addiction: Ketamine Takes Control

Sam’s story begins with a lot of loneliness. No matter how many people he surrounded himself with, he was still so alone. He ended up gravitating toward drugs to fill his void. Sam ended up abusing a drug similar to Ketamine that completely destroyed his life. He ended up using daily with his father and pawned most of what they owned to support their habit. Things got so bad, Sam begged his dad to help him get into treatment. He got his wish and went to an inpatient rehab. Sam recovered from his addiction, you can too. There is hope for everyone.

Seeking help for a loved one

  • Is Inpatient Rehab Worth It?
    Inpatient rehab can save you from Ketamine addiction and teach you how to live a new, healthier life.
  • Will I Ever Recover from Ketamine Addiction?
    Yes. It is always possible to recover from Ketamine, you just need to do the work that was taught to you in inpatient and the support groups you attend.

Inpatient Ketamine Rehab

With the very social nature of a Ketamine use, it’s more important than ever to remove an individual struggling with Ketamine addiction from their current environment. Often, the use of drugs introduces the users to a community of drug users and places the user in an environment that could compromise their well-being. These aspects could be a trigger to use the drug again or pressure for drug users to keep using. Finding a treatment center located away from such influences is often the best option.

An Inpatient treatment program includes a physical stay at a facility location with proper supervision for a specific period, typically for 30, 60 or 90 days. Inpatient rehab centers offer the most intensive programs available. These residential treatment programs offer the most comprehensive therapeutic experience as the person is surrounded by supportive and encouraging professionals. In an inpatient treatment center, an individual with a Ketamine addiction can learn the tools he or she needs to remain sober after the program has ended.

Various therapeutic techniques are utilized to produce the most healing possible in the time allowed. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, helps identify negative thought patterns that lead to self-destructive behaviors. The professional therapist helps him or her then replace these self-defeating thoughts with positive, healthy ones. There are many more programs and therapeutic practices that may be offered that can help people turn their life around. – Learn More

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab provides much of the treatments as inpatient rehab, however on a part-time, non-residential basis. Individuals live away from the rehab center and travel several times a week for counseling and groups. The time commitment can be substantial in an outpatient clinic setting due to an extensive amount of traveling back and forth. However, this allows the people to work, attend school or go about their life as normal. Finding the right facility will be key in helping an individual to break free.

Outpatient facilities can differ quite a bit. Some are little more than counseling, and others require daily check-ins where you attend classes, support groups and therapy. Individual and group sessions are common therapeutic techniques used by outpatient treatment centers. Group sessions include group therapy, process groups and educational seminars, as well as one on one therapy. Individuals learn about addiction as well as common co-occurring problems. During outpatient treatment, individuals may be required to participate in and attend local 12-step meetings as many rehab programs are 12-step based.

People are encouraged to attend an inpatient treatment program prior to outpatient treatment. Commonly, outpatient alone does not offer the intensity and care needed for people who has been using Ketamine for an extended period. If inpatient treatment is not an option, sober living combined with outpatient treatment may provide the stability and accountability required to recover. – Learn More

  • Why Outpatient?
    If you have family obligations or work, you can still keep up with those responsibilities and attend outpatient to save your life from Ketamine addiction.
  • What Will I do In Outpatient Rehab?
    When recovering from Ketamine, you will attend outpatient a few times a week and go through a multitude of therapies to improve your chances of recovery.