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Ketamine Dependence – Signs of Ketamine Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that is mainly used in veterinary medicine, although it is also still sometimes used in human surgery. Some people use ketamine illicitly in order to get high. While legitimate ketamine is typically found in liquid form, street variants are often sold as a powder that users smoke, snort, or dissolve in liquid to drink. Drug abusers may also inject liquid ketamine directly into a muscle. It is also sometimes used as a “rape drug” and put into the drinks of unsuspecting women to sedated them and make them vulnerable to sexual assault.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

How addictive is ketamine? The addictive potential of ketamine is not well studied, so no one knows for certain if it is addictive or how addictive it is. If you think that you or someone you know might be addicted to ketamine, fill out our short contact form or call 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? to learn more about this drug and how to recognize its abuse.

Understanding Ketamine Dependency and Tolerance

Ketamine dependence involves cravings for the drug when it is not in the system. The precise mechanisms and degree of ketamine addiction and dependence are unknown, but many people who use the drug continue to do so over a long period of time or binge by taking large dosages at once to achieve an effective high. While the potential for physical addiction remains under investigation, psychological dependency is certainly possible. Psychological addiction occurs when the user associates ketamine use with particular circumstances or people and makes a habit of using the drug whenever he or she is in a particular situation. Ketamine is often used as a club drug, so users may find it difficult to stop without removing themselves from the lifestyle that encourages drug use.

Effects/Side Effects

Prescription Drug Addiction Symptoms

Prescription drug abuse is among the major social and health concerns in the United States today. People from all walks of life can become addicted to prescription drugs. Addiction to prescription drugs results in the uncontrollable seeking, misuse, and often overuse of these drugs in spite of their obvious dangerous consequences. However, addiction is at times hard to identify because users suffering from chronic pain require regular pain medication, and physical dependence is possible even if drugs are taken as intended.

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Ketamine acts on the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is normally involved in learning, pain perception, coordinating responses to the environment, and memory. When a user takes ketamine, he or she typically experiences a distorted sense of self and feels detached from the environment. Sight and sound perception may also be altered. In some cases, the user experiences a terrifying sense of complete sensory detachment that feels like a near-death experience. At low doses, the individual’s memory, learning ability and attention may be hampered. High doses can cause hallucinations and a dreamlike state. Excessive doses can lead to amnesia, delirium, high blood pressure, depression, and a loss of motor function. The specific effect of ketamine on a given individual depends on many factors, including his or her weight, age, mood, expectations, and medical conditions, as well as the amount of ketamine taken and which form is used. Snorting ketamine can bring on a high within a few minutes, but the effects typically last for only an hour or so. Taking ketamine by mouth results in a more gradual high that may last for up to four hours. Coming down from ketamine may involve experiencing delirium or a dreamlike state for up to 24 hours after the initial use. After a ketamine high, the user may not recall what happened while on the drug. He or she may also experience anxiety during the letdown of the drug. Even after the drug has worn off, some ketamine users experience flashbacks in the days or weeks that follow the initial use. These flashbacks appear suddenly, without warning, and may interfere with work, school, or home life. Side effects from ketamine use may include sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, confusion, changes in heart rate, mood changes, or nightmares. Some users can develop potentially deadly respiratory problems, seizures or a coma. Long-term ketamine users may develop irreversible urinary tract and bladder problems.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Withdrawal from ketamine is often less painful or uncomfortable than withdrawal from other drugs, such as stimulants or depressants. Withdrawal symptoms have not been clearly defined, so doctors who treat ketamine abusers may not know what to look for. Detoxification can generally be accomplished through an abrupt cessation of drug use. Unlike drugs with a strong physical addiction component, ketamine does not require a gradual weaning off process in order to quit using it.

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine abuse treatment is primarily focused on teaching the user to develop alternative habits to replace the psychological habit of drug use. The patient may need to sever relationships with friends or family members who regularly use ketamine in order to avoid temptation that might lead to a relapse. Developing healthy support systems is an important part of recovery from ketamine addiction.