Ketamine Withdrawal and Detox

Ketamine was originally developed as medication for anaesthesia. It can be classified as a general anaesthetic, dissociative hallucinogen, analgesic and antidepressant. Over the years, the substance has become sought after as a recreational substance.

Abusing ketamine – either by using it over a long period of time or in large doses – can eventually lead to substance dependency. If you use ketamine in such a manner and then try to break free of dependency, withdrawal symptoms can begin to emerge.

Identifying symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can be tricky,because of how similar they are to those of other substances. The clinical treatment for ketamine withdrawal is effective, but comes with its own unique set of challenges concerning safety and the commitment of the abuser to embracing a change of lifestyle. Nonetheless, it is still possible to overcome ketamine’s withdrawal symptoms and eventually break free of the addiction.

Several effects of ketamine abuse are psychological, and the same goes for the sort of issues one would experience when trying to overcome ketamine addiction: that is, the withdrawal symptoms are more psychological than physical. Typically, ketamine withdrawal symptoms can last for anywhere between four to six days, starting between 24-72 hours after the last ketamine dose. In such a scenario, ketamine withdrawal symptoms will include :

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Nightmares
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Anxiety and depression

Once properly assessed by a specialist, a detox treatment schedule that best suits your unique condition will be drawn up and used to provide the care you need. Your progress throughout the detox process will be closely monitored by your assigned caregiver. This ensures any changes in your health will be quickly addressed and that your detox treatment will be amended,wherenecessary. Your well-being will be taken care of by ensuring healthy eating and lots of rest become part of your daily life during this period.

By undergoing detox in a rehabilitation clinic,your safety will be guaranteed while under the watchful eye of experienced healthcare professionals. Such treatment will also ensure you recover as quickly and as healthily as possible.

Undergoing detox might be a very uncomfortable experience but it is worth it in the end, as all the inconvenient symptoms are only temporary. By the time it’s all over, you will be well on your way to regaining control of your life and making a full recovery from drug addiction.

Depression can be considered to be the biggest risk during ketamine withdrawal, as it can lead to suicidal urges. Such a risk is more pronounced in scenarios where an individual is using ketamine to treat underlying depression issues. For such people, a sudden absence of the drug in their system can lead to reduced sensitivity of the brain’s receptors, associated with providing natural antidepressants. This can lead to major depressive disorders combined with suicidal ideation.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms that signify withdrawal often vary from individual to individual and are often determined by the type/potency of the substance being abused, as well as the physiology of the individual in question.

Physical symptoms of withdrawal are a result of chemical imbalances in the brain,triggered by the absence of the abused chemical in the system. Abusing psychoactive drugs such as ketamine triggers the production of neurotransmitter chemicals in your brain, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, glutamate and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are crucial to the effective control of major processes in the human brain. Therefore, if a body has become dependent on ketamineto trigger the production of these neurotransmitters, this can lead to the following physical withdrawal symptoms manifesting:

  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Epilepsy
  • Chills
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing/hyperventilation
  • Stiffening of the muscles

While these physical symptoms can be inconvenient, the process of withdrawal is a crucial first step that one must take in order to break free from substance abuse.

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Psychological Symptoms

The risk of psychological symptoms (such as severe mental and behavioural disorders)during ketamine withdrawal is quite high. Psychological symptoms are often related to the intense cravings that follow during withdrawal, as well as the development of disorders such as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), and Persistent Psychosis.

Aside from HPPD and Persistent Psychosis, the following might also be experienced as psychological symptoms of hallucinogen withdrawal:

  • Vivid nightmares
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganised thinking
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Low impulse control
  • Severe mood swings
  • Panic episodes

Psychological withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and severity, depending on the dose and potency of ketamine being abused.

Long-Term Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

At the moment, there’s still a lot about the long-term effects of ketamine withdrawal that’s not yet fully understood. Certain categories of ketamine users have been known to point out experiencing the following symptoms when they attempted to stop abusing the drug :

  • Cravings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Sweating

Different individuals with different physiologies and circumstances will naturally have different experiences when they try to quit using ketamine. Some factors that might determine how intense or mild withdrawal symptoms can be for a person include :

  • Body type and physical
  • Mental health
  • Length of drug use
  • Amount used
  • Frequency of use

In the absence of adequate information and to ensure your safety, it is strongly recommended that you report immediately to a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following symptoms while trying to quit ketamine. It is even more vital to immediately seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms long after you have stopped using ketamine:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Seizures
  • Mental and behavioural disorders
  • Pain
  • Severe anxiety
  • Troublesome cravings

To help minimise the effect of symptoms during withdrawal, you should undergo a medically supervised detox programme for ketamine. This is especially best if you have a pre-existing medical condition or any complicated mental health issues when trying to quit. By being under a medically supervised detox, you’ll have access to fast medical assistance and can avoid any long-term health complications that might affect the quality of your life after quitting ketamine.

How to Ease Ketamine Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

A vital step to beating ketamine addiction is to first undergo detoxification. It is an unavoidable recovery step that involves your body being purged of all elements of the drug. The process can at times be painful or highly uncomfortable if not professionally monitored and handled,which is why a medically supervised detox is often the best option for a recovering addict.
The symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can be wide-rangingand make thoughts of staying sober seem

impossible, but this is just your body reacting to the absence of the toxins from ketamine. Given enough time, all symptoms should eventually pass and leave you feeling much better. As long as you don’t give up during the detox process, you can beat your addiction.
When medically supervised, you’ll have access to medicine and other forms of treatment that will help make you more comfortable and minimise the effects of ketamine withdrawal symptoms. This will help combat your cravings and

other intense symptoms during withdrawal. Some other typical withdrawal symptoms that can be helped include issues with respiratory function and heart rate, which will be monitored closely to ensure your safety.
Aside from medical treatment, counselling and support will also be provided during ketamine withdrawal. If ketamine abuse over a long period of time has led to health complications such as damage to the urinary tract, medical intervention can help turn things around. So, don’t take the risk of trying to detox alone.

Can Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms Be Fatal?

Withdrawal whilst breaking free from ketamine addiction is best handled in a controlled environment, where not just the physical aspects of your withdrawal will be monitored, but the psychological ones as well.

Ketamine withdrawal symptoms are more often than not psychological, with one of the greatest psychological risks during withdrawal being depression. Giving in to severe depression during withdrawal can lead to an addict entertaining suicidal thoughts, but this can be managed by ensuring you have access to proper support and medical attention during the withdrawal phase. A detox clinic with the right staff can help with this, by providing all the guidance and emotional support you need, whilst experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. In certain cases, antidepressants might be prescribed to help you better cope with symptoms and complications from depression.

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline

Different drugs have different timelines for withdrawal. How long ketamine withdrawal takes for an individual is mostly dependent on that individual’s physical and mental health, as well as potency of the drug and degree of its abuse.

Depending on the above factors, ketamine withdrawal can last for anywhere between 72 hours and several weeks. Withdrawal from this drug is mostly not life-threatening, but it can be a very distressing period. The symptoms of withdrawal can begin to manifest after 24 to 72 hours of taking the last dose of ketamine, and it’s best to already be in the care of a medical professional by the time it starts.

typical timeline for ketamine withdrawal can be found below:

  • Days 1-3.  Severe withdrawal symptoms will usually begin to manifest after 24 hours of stopping ketamine usage. Symptoms can include aggressive behaviour, tremors, fatigue, insomnia, rage, depression, delusions, hallucinations, nausea, double vision, rapid breathing, and hearing loss
  • Days 4-14. The above withdrawal symptoms can last for as long as two weeks, but will usually begin to lessen by the end of the second week.
  • Days 15+.  By the fifteenth day and upward, symptoms should have stabilised, though certain psychological issues might persist for a while longer.

Ketamine Withdrawal Remedies

Withdrawal remedies for ketamine addiction are aimed at helping you not only break free from the drug, but also avoid a relapse.Ketamine withdrawal often doesn’t manifest physical symptoms but a variety of psychological ones can arise, especially feelings of depression and anxiety..
The next stage of treatment after the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have passed is counselling and psychotherapy. This will provide insight through self-awareness, concerning why you might have been abusing ketamine. Psychotherapy will also help you get past the depression and mental fatigue that most addicts face in their initial days of being drug-free. Counselling on the other hand will help you discover ways to say no to the temptation of further drug abuse,

as well as give you the necessary skills required to achieve a healthier way of living and enjoy yourself without the influence of addictive substances.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) areoften used to accomplish this.Twelve-step programmes can also be beneficial, as well as Dual Diagnosis programmes, which assess and treat co-occurring mental health conditions or medical problems.
The final stage of withdrawal treatment issustained recovery, which is arguably the hardest part. This is because it is the stage where relapse is most likely to occur – but with the appropriate support and skills (acquired during treatment), you can fight the urge of a relapse and focus on leading a drug-free life.

Ketamine Detox Treatment

Detox treatment can be regarded as the process of allowing your body to rid itself of all toxins associated with your use of ketamine. The process is often a trying one for many, but proper treatment in a controlled environment at the hands of medical experts can help ease the strain. Follow-up therapy after a detox programme is also important, because it helps an addict prepare for a new life after overcoming addiction.

How long a detox programme lasts is often dependent on the following factors:

  • Length of ketamine addiction
  • Prescribed medication you might be taking for health reasons
  • Your age and general health
  • Your current mental health
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Once properly assessed by a specialist, a detox treatment schedule that best suits your unique condition will be drawn up and used to provide the care you need. Your progress throughout the detox process will be closely monitored by your assigned caregiver. This ensures any changes in your health will be quickly addressed and that your detox treatment will be amended,where necessary. Your well-being will be taken care of by ensuring healthy eating and lots of rest become part of your daily life during this period.

By undergoing detox in a rehabilitation clinic,your safety will be guaranteed while under the watchful eye of experienced healthcare professionals. Such treatment will also ensure you recover as quickly and as healthily as possible.

Undergoing detox might be a very uncomfortable experience but it is worth it in the end, as all the inconvenient symptoms are only temporary. By the time it’s all over, you will be well on your way to regaining control of your life and making a full recovery from drug addiction.

How Supervised Detox Can Help

Medically assisted detox for ketamine addiction may be required if there are any pre-existing medical or mental health issues, or if you’re experiencingany significant discomfort or other challenges when attempting to quit.

Regardless the degree of your ketamine addiction, medically supervised detoxification is the best course of action to take. However, medical supervision is even more important if your addiction is particularly severe. This is because supervised detox will ensureeverything that’s medically required to safely rid your body of all harmful toxinsis available. It will also ensure that the entire process is safe and your health is cared for by taking control of anyhealth complications that might occur during detox.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, benzodiazepines might be administered to help with insomnia, anxiety, and seizures during detox. Even though such treatment is rarely needed when treating ketamine addiction, keep in mind that it won’t be available during an unsupervised detox if you were to need it.

The Detox Process

Detox might not be the only step in breaking free from ketamine addiction, but it is nonetheless a crucial one. For detox to be effective, the correct processes need to be followed and the right treatment provided. Some of the steps you can expect to go through during your journey through detoxification include:

Step 1: Intake

This is the admission process into a detox programme. The process is made straightforward to ensure you get the right treatment clinic for your needs, as quickly as necessary. The right treatment clinic will be one that has the facilities and capabilities to deal with your specific addiction issues. The intake process can consist of the following steps:

  • Your condition will be assessed by a specialist in order to determine your health needs and facilitate the recommendation of suitable treatment clinics and a plan of treatment.
  • Choosing an addiction rehab clinic.A date of admission into the clinic of your choice will be set.
  • Reserving your place.Your space at the chosen detox clinic will be reserved pending your arrival.
  • Arriving at the rehab clinic.Upon arrival at the treatment clinic, you’ll be introduced to the admissions team and booked in. All information concerning your stay and schedule while at the facility will also be provided.
  • Doctor’s assessment.A doctor at the clinic will fully assess your mental and physical health, using the subsequent information to formulate your treatment schedule. During the assessment, it is crucial that you provide honest and accurate information about your medical history and addiction.

Step 2: Detox

The detox phase is necessaryfor your breaking free fromketamine addiction. Detoxing at a specialised clinic will ensure the experience is as comfortable as possible. You will also be closely monitored by professionals to ensure your safety and wellbeing throughout the process.Without detox, psychological treatment cannot be of maximum benefit.
A detox plan that best suits your condition will be drawn up and substitute medication might be prescribed to help you get through addiction with less inconvenience.

Step 3: Rehab

Once you’ve successfully completed detoxification, the next step is rehabilitation. Rehab is meant to be therapeutic and is aimed at treating the varied psychological effects of addiction. Without rehab, your chances of falling into relapse are quite high, as you might cave into cravings or not know the stressors or triggers to avoid.As a recovering addict, until you go through rehab,you will likely lack the fortitude and psychological tools to stay away from addictive substances.

The right rehab programme to help you will be dependent on your unique needs. Commonly used rehab programmes include:

  • Community-based programmes. Instead of receiving treatment at a formal facility, these programmes are rolled out amongst a community of people with the same issues. It is mostly supportive and follows the model of the 12-step treatment programme often used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • Halfway houses or sober living houses. These aresimilar toresidential rehab programmes, but patients in this scenario are offered far more freedom.
  • Outpatient treatment. This allows patients to come to the facility from home for rehab activities.
  • Residential rehab programmes. These are intensive treatment programmes that require patients to remain in the facility full-time, until the completion of rehab.

Your rehabilitation process will be an evolving one that changes as you make further progress in staying drug-free. Tools and insights provided by your rehab experience will also help you get a better grasp on your new life. If you prefer, rehab doesn’t have to end once addiction treatment is over. You can continue rehab at your convenience,for as long as you need it.

Step 4: Aftercare

Aftercare can be described as the process of taking what you have gained from drug rehabilitationinto the real world. It is a transition process and a very crucial one that can make or break your recovery. This is because people leaving rehab are usually very vulnerable and could end up relapsing whilst in early recovery. To help avoid this, aftercare can make available the following:

  • 12-step programmes. Examples of the 12-step model include meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These are supportive groups with free meetings you can attend for guidance and support to keep you focused on recovery.
  • This is a periodic aftercare option that can help your transitioning into re-entering society. It will involve seeing a therapist at least once a week.
  • Outpatient treatment. This allows you to receive additional support in a less structured environment. Instead of staying at a rehab facility, you can attend sessions from home.
  • Sober living facilities.In such facilities, people in early recovery live in the grounds and are expected to stay sober, abide by certain rules, and attend recovery meetings.
  • Support groups. These are free meetings that people in various stages of recovery can attend for support.

Risks of Continued Use after Detox

Every recovering addict is at the risk of suffering a relapse. This is especially so if you don’t know what your triggers and stressors are and how to avoid them. For instance, a recovering ketamine addict may have trouble attending nightclubs, since the substance is a known club drug. Being in such an environment can trigger cravings to get ‘high’. The same applies to spending time around people who are drug users. This can lead to peer pressure that might cause you to ‘fall off the wagon’.

There are a variety of risks associated with relapsing soon after undergoing a detox, but the most prevalent is that of a drug overdose. An overdose is likely for freshly recovering addicts, because the process of detox actually reduces an individual’s tolerance. Therefore, a dose of ketamine that would normally get you ‘high’ whilst you were an active drug addict might prove to be too much to handle when you are fresh from leaving detox. Being unaware of this, you may end up using a familiar dose which can lead to an accidental overdose.

In many cases, an accidental overdose can prove to be fatal.This is why it is important to take aftercare seriously, even though it is not mandatory. With aftercare, you stand a greater chance of avoiding a relapse and losing everything you’ve gained from your initial attempt at becoming drug-free.

The Bottom Line: You Can Beat Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine might be a powerful psychoactive drug, whose abuse can lead to addiction. However, your addiction doesn’t have to be a lifetime burden. With the right professional attention, medicine, and support, you can beat your ketamine addiction and regain control of your life, with no lasting side effects.


Why Does Ketamine Use Result in Drug Dependence?

When ketamine is used frequently, physical addiction becomes likely. This is because the frequent usage causes your physiology and brain chemistry to adjust to having ketamine and its chemical influences constantly present in your system. Ketamine causes your brain to release certain ‘feel good’neurotransmitters. Over time, your brain will become unable to release such neurotransmitters on its own. If you stop using ketamine, this will lead to a serious deficit in the release of those feel good neurotransmitters, thus leading to withdrawal symptoms.

Ketamine withdrawal can give rise to symptoms such as paranoia, depression, and emotional imbalance. Even though most Ketamine withdrawal symptoms are not physical, they can still make it difficult to abruptly quit using the substance after constant abusing.

How can I Make Ketamine Withdrawal Easier to Handle?

The best way to ease the effects of ketamine withdrawal is to opt for a medically supervised detox. By doing this, you can access medically assisted detoxification, provided by health professionals. Certain medication might also be prescribed to ease the withdrawal symptoms. A medically supervised detox is definitely much safer than trying to detox on your own and also makes the process less uncomfortable.

What Signals a User’s Dependence on Ketamine?

When a dependence or addiction to ketamine develops, the following symptoms can become apparent:

  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Feelings of detachment/dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired ability to think or learn
  • Memory impairment
  • Bladder pain
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed or difficult breathing

Is Withdrawal Dangerous?

Withdrawal is only dangerous if it is unsupervised by a healthcare professional. This is why medically supervised detox is recommended, as well as rehabilitation to monitor and manage the psychological and physical aspects of an addict’s withdrawal. This way, not only will withdrawal and its symptoms be better managed and more convenient, you also stand a better chance of actually getting over your addiction.

Do I Risk a Relapse?

Every recovering addict risks a relapse. This is even more so if you keep exposing yourself to triggers that can lead to craving ketamine again. To help you stay focused on recovery and remain drug-free, doctors recommend quality aftercare and being part of a support group. Being part of a support group like Narcotics Association will help you stay focused on recovery and also enlighten you with regards how to avoid stressors, triggers, and other temptations that might cause you to relapse.

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