Table of Contents
- Ketamine Addiction: All You Need to Know About This Drug and Treatment For It
- Who Abuses Ketamine?
- The Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- The Psychological Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- The Behavioral and Social Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- The Physical Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- Effects of Ketamine Addiction
- Recreational Ketamine Use is Abuse
- Ketamine Withdrawal
- Ketamine Addiction Treatment
Ketamine Addiction: All You Need to Know About This Drug and Treatment For It
Ketamine is a drug that is used for sedation in both human and veterinary medicine. It also has street names that are commonly misspelled, including “Special K,” “Kit Kat” “Cat Valium”, “Vitamin K”, and “Ketaject.” Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, which means that it has the ability to create feelings of detachment from reality. This drug can also be used for pain management. It has been used for both human and veterinary purposes since the 1960s.
Who Abuses Ketamine?
Ketamine is not a drug of abuse in the United States, but it is being abused. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that ketamine was involved in 1,857 drug abuse-related emergency department (ED) visits in 2004. The majority of ketamine ED mentions were among young adults, aged 18 to 25 years. Ketamine was mentioned in only 10 deaths in 2004.
Ketamine use is most prevalent in the western United States, particularly in California. The drug has been found on college campuses and at raves, nightclubs, bars, and parties. Ketamine is usually abused by injecting, snorting, or smoking it. Some also swallow, drink, and bomb it.
Ketamine addiction can be difficult to recognize because the signs and symptoms are similar to those of other addictions and mental health disorders. Some of the signs of ketamine addiction include:
- Loss of appetite
- Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
- Disorientation and confusion
- Dilated pupils, which can remain dilated even after the drug wears off.
These symptoms are similar to those of other drug addictions and mental health disorders, so it can be difficult to recognize ketamine addiction.
The Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
Similar to other addictions and mental health disorders, ketamine addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences. Ketamine addicts may feel a strong need to continue using the drug in order to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Ketamine addicts may feel that they cannot control the amount of ketamine they consume, and their drug use often interferes with other aspects of life, such as work and family.
The Psychological Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- Consuming ketamine to try and relieve stress
- Distorted perception of space, time, and reality, resulting in taking risks
- Entering a trance-like state
- Euphoria, detached from body feeling, the feeling that the user has died, floating, or feeling they can fly
- Compounded existing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or stress
- Fear and paranoia
- Loss of focus or concentration on daily responsibilities, ketamine has become the main priority
- Secretive behavior or lying
- Memory loss
The Behavioral and Social Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- Avoiding interaction with loved ones leads to social isolation
- Defensive, dishonest, and secretive behavior about ketamine use
- Spending an excessive amount of time obtaining and consuming ketamine
- Relationship breakdowns, poor performance at work, money problems
- Feeling as though ketamine has taken over your life
- Feeling as though you are unable to stop taking ketamine, even though you want to
- Socializing with people who take ketamine or other drugs
- Inability to stop thinking about Ketamine
- Loved ones have noticed dramatic changes in the user’s behavior or appearance
- Seeking out new consuming ways for the drug, to experience a better and longer high
- Neglecting work and family responsibilities
- Poor performance and attendance at work
- Stealing money or selling valuables in order to pay for addiction
- Using ketamine on a regular basis in your day-to-day life
The Physical Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
- Difficulty breathing
- Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when taking ketamine
- Fatal overdose possibility
- Built up tolerance to the drug, higher doses and more frequently used for desired effects
- Inability to feel pain
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of motor control and paralysis
- Vein damage if injected
- Irreversible mental health problems such as schizophrenia, drug-induced psychosis, aggression, and flashbacks
- Heart attacks
- Liver damage
- Permanent brain damage
- Respiratory depression or arrest
- Serious long-term bladder and urinary tract problems
- Severe abdominal cramps also known as ‘K cramps’
The biggest risk of ketamine addiction is overdose. Ketamine has a very narrow safety range, meaning that it can be deadly in certain doses. It is also dangerous when mixed with other depressants, like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Ketamine addiction is also linked to serious mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia. Many ketamine addicts suffer from a combination of these conditions, which can make treatment more complicated.
Effects of Ketamine Addiction
Ketamine addiction can have serious health consequences, as well as cause social and financial problems. The drug is dangerous in overdose, which can lead to respiratory arrest or even death. Ketamine is also linked to serious mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia. Many ketamine addicts suffer from a combination of these conditions, which can make treatment more complicated.
Recreational Ketamine Use is Abuse
Although ketamine is not an addictive substance in the way that heroin or cocaine is, it can still be abused. Ketamine causes a dissociative state and hallucinations that many people find enjoyable. However, ketamine is a schedule III controlled substance and it can be abused.
Recreational users of ketamine often take large doses in order to achieve the dissociative state that they desire. This can lead to serious health problems and even death. Recreational ketamine users are also at risk for addiction. Ketamine is not physically addictive, but it does cause psychological dependence.
Ketamine withdrawal occurs when someone who is dependent on ketamine stops using the drug. Ketamine withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous, but it is not life-threatening like heroin or opioid withdrawal.
Recreational ketamine users often binge on the drug, taking it repeatedly over a short period of time. This can lead to both physical and psychological dependence on ketamine. As a result, people who binge on ketamine can develop a tolerance and are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Some of the typical psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Acute anxiety
- Aggressive behavior
- Bladder pain
- Feeling suicidal
- Impaired vision
- Increased heart rate
- Intense cravings for ketamine
- Lack of coordination and motor skills
- Panic attacks
- Psychotic episodes
- Severe depression
- Stomach cramps
- Temporary hearing loss
Ketamine Addiction Treatment
There are many different types of ketamine addiction treatment programs. Whether it is inpatient or outpatient care, there are programs that can help overcome the addiction to ketamine. There is no specific treatment for ketamine addiction because there are not many resources available. However, the symptoms of ketamine addiction are similar to those of other addictions and mental health disorders, so treatment for these conditions may be effective. Ketamine addiction treatment programs focus on helping you learn how to live a drug-free life and develop the coping skills you need.
Treatment for ketamine addiction is similar to that of other addictions. The first step in recovery is detox, which can be done at a hospital or rehabilitation center. Medications are available to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment programs will provide a supervised ketamine detox process and help treat the longer term psychological issues from chronic use of the drug. A well-rounded inpatient treatment program which includes cognative behavioural therapy, counselling, groups and healthy living provives for a long term sustained sobriety.
There are also outpatient programs which include the option for medically treated withdrawal from ketaine and also offer group therapy, family counseling, 12-step meetings, and other support groups.
If you or a loved on is addicted to ketamine, you will feel better about yourself and your life once you get the help that is necessary to overcome your addiction. For a detailed personalized treatment option, call West Valley Detox today to speak to one of our professional and experience staff.