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What You Need to Know About Ketamine and Addiction

Ketamine is a drug that was developed in the 1960s as a new type of dissociative anesthetic. Authorized for use in both humans and animals, ketamine is used during surgeries to ease pain and discomfort.  

However, ketamine is often used illegally and can lead to addiction when used for recreational purposes and without medical supervision or prescription. When used recreationally and illegally, it causes harmful short and long-term effects on the body. Because of the intense psychological, emotional, and physical harm ketamine leads to, it was placed on the controlled substances list in the United States in 1999 to minimize the amount of potential illegal abuse that could happen. 

How Ketamine Works 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), ketamine works as a dissociative drug, which can cause the user to experience unconscious and dream-like states. When used in high enough doses that far exceed the typical doses used in medical settings, it blocks pain signals, leads to unconscious and dream-like states of being, and can cause severe hallucinations. 

Why Ketamine Leads to Addiction 

When used recreationally, ketamine leads to addiction very quickly and without the intention or desire to become addicted. Not everyone who uses ketamine recreationally becomes addicted to it, but many will. Addiction is a disease, and some are more susceptible than others due to differences in biological, environmental, and genetic makeup. 

When ketamine is used frequently, addiction and psychological dependence on this substance become more dangerous and prevalent as the user builds tolerance. When an individual builds tolerance to ketamine, they have to ingest higher doses of it to experience the same effects on the body compared to when they first began. 

Effects of Ketamine on the Body 

When used for any period of time, ketamine produces harmful and sometimes lethal short- and long-term effects on the body. Short-term side effects of ketamine use include: 

  • Reduced awareness of one’s environment
  • Feelings of sedation
  • Living in what feels like a dream-like state
  • Feelings of grandiose strength and power
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Lack of ability to concentrate
  • Motionlessness
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Increased urination
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Decreased coordination
  • Alternations in discernment and judgment

When used long-term, the use of ketamine has to increase as the user builds their dependence and tolerance to this substance. With continued, higher, and more frequent uses of ketamine, both the short-term and long-term effects cause significant harm and impairment to the body that can lead to permanent damage done to oneself and can even lead to fatality in many cases without receiving the appropriate treatment. 

Long-term ketamine abuse leads to prolonged and sometimes chronic mental impairment that impacts memory and brain functionality. Some symptoms of long-term ketamine abuse include:

  • Urinary system damage
  • Kidney system failure
  • Heart complications
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory failure

The long-term use of ketamine can also lead to death. 

Signs of Ketamine Addiction 

Addiction and substance use look different in every individual, but common signs and symptoms of ketamine addiction may look like: 

  • Frequent states of distraction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased fatigue and drowsiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of connection with feeling physical pain
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Redness of skin
  • Insomnia
  • Bladder pain and/or incontinence

Withdrawal Symptoms 

If an individual stops using ketamine, they are likely to experience the psychological symptoms of withdrawal. The process of withdrawing from any drug is intense and often keeps an individual trapped in the cycle of addiction. These symptoms may include: 

  • Sensations of agitation and irritability
  • Feelings of confusion and/or brain fog
  • Psychosis
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Rage and anger outbursts
  • Nausea
  • Decrease in normal respiratory and cardiac functioning
  • Involuntarily shaking and muscle tremors
  • Increased fatigue
  • Loss of hearing
  • Cognitive impairment

Detoxing From Ketamine 

Beginning to detox from ketamine is not comfortable but is the first step in healing and recovery, paving the way for freedom. It is essential to begin the detox process in a center that provides as much comfort and support as possible. This process is not only intense for the individual detoxing but also for those around the individual. To keep both the individual enduring detoxing and those around them safe and secure, it is essential to allow this to happen in a specialized treatment center for addiction with detox services available. 

In entering a center where detox is offered as a first step to treatment, the next step in recovery is often finding the residential treatment program that makes the most sense for you and for where you’re at in your battle with addiction with the needs you have for recovery. At Laguna Shores, we offer both Detox and Residential Rehab Programs where we take both individualized and holistic approaches to healing. 

Our Detox program begins with an evaluation process to gather a birds-eye view of what you need and where you’re at so we can create a recovery plan to integrate as you are in detox and as you move into the next phase of recovery in a residential treatment program. Our Residential Rehab Program provides you with continued detox support, therapies, and holistic guidance you need to experience wellness and recovery as you continue your journey in life free of substances. 

Choosing to recover from ketamine addiction begins with finding a treatment center for you to detox safely. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have a comfortable environment with trained staff to support you as you take this step. Call (866) 229-9923 for more information.