As a street drug, ketamine is one of the favourites of the party scene because of its strong sedating and dissociative effects. It is a preferred date-rape drug for those same reasons. Based on this one property alone, it should be obvious that using ketamine recreationally is not a wise idea.
If you are a ketamine user, the best advice anyone could give you is to stop using the drug. If you need treatment in order to do so, that’s fine. But continuing to use ketamine under the assumption that it’s not going to harm you is dangerous. Ketamine is both addictive and destructive. It can ruin your health, cause psychological problems, destroy all of your personal relationships, land you in jail, and even kill you.
Addiction Helper routinely speaks with ketamine users who know they are in trouble. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you if you are concerned that you or someone you know is struggling with ketamine. Our free helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Contact us by phone or through our website.
Basics of Ketamine Use
Ketamine is a short-acting anaesthetic that is traditionally used in veterinary medicine. It is illegal for human recreational use, but that has not stopped ketamine from becoming increasingly popular in the club scene. The drug easily dissolves in liquid, making it a popular drug for date rape. It can also be injected as a liquid or snorted as a powder.
Ketamine’s effects on the mind and body are the result of its ability to depress the central nervous system. This causes a temporary loss of sensation that can also include auditory and visual hallucinations. Some of those hallucinations can be extremely frightening. At the very least, the loss of sensation creates a dissociative effect in which a person may be completely conscious but have no control over body function. This disassociation can bring with it a distortion of both space and time.
There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that ketamine is physically addictive. However, it is psychologically addictive due to the condition known as tolerance. And because tolerance develops so quickly, it only takes a few incidents of ketamine use for some people to develop psychological addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction
The use of ketamine as a regular recreational drug is relatively new. Therefore, there may be psychological and physical problems associated with the drug that are not yet known. What we do know is that low doses of ketamine can cause nausea, confusion, and distraction. High doses have led to respiratory and heart problems that could ultimately trigger unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. Mixing ketamine with other sedatives, like alcohol, can be fatal with just one dose.
A person who is addicted to ketamine will exhibit some or all the following signs and symptoms:
- Regular feelings of detachment and disassociation
- Regular auditory and visual hallucinations
- Slowed breathing or respiratory distress
- Regular mood swings
- Stomach pains and incontinence
- Increased depression and/or anxiety
- Impaired cognitive function (impaired ability to learn or remember)
- Routine nausea and vomiting
- Gradually increasing paranoia.
Someone you suspect may be using ketamine might reveal an addiction unintentionally through the appearance of white powder residue or used needles and syringes being left around. The ketamine addict will also become gradually preoccupied with the drug and the symptoms it produces.
The dangers of using this drug are numerous, depending on how often it is used. For example, even a single use of ketamine as a date rape drug could land the user in prison for a long time. Ongoing use can encourage a person to also become addicted to the clubbing lifestyle, which could ultimately lead to the use of harder drugs.
In terms of long-term physical and psychological problems, long-term ketamine use has been linked to bladder and urinary tract problems (including ketamine bladder syndrome), incontinence, bladder ulcers, chronic abdominal pain, and even psychosis. People who use the drug recreationally are also more prone to injuries as a result of reckless behaviour. Those injuries can be exacerbated by the individual’s inability to feel pain while high on the drug.
Treatment for Ketamine Addiction
If there is any good news about ketamine, it is the lack of physical dependence on the drug. There are no withdrawal symptoms and, thus, no need for detox. Treatment can focus entirely on the psychological addiction and its effects on rational thinking. Treatment may also include medical care made necessary by the physical effects of ketamine on the body.
Like most other substance addictions, treatment for ketamine begins with a comprehensive analysis of the patient’s current situation. That assessment will help determine how the patient will be best served. Treatment can be received in one of two ways:
Outpatient – Outpatient treatment involves visiting a treatment centre on a regular schedule to receive counselling therapies and regular medical exams.
Inpatient – Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment, requires the patient to live at the facility for up to 90 days. This is the preferred treatment for long-term addicts whose psychological addiction to the drug is profound.
With both kinds of treatment, the centrepiece is a selection of counselling therapies that help the individual come to terms with his or her drug addiction. Initial therapies help patients understand the root causes of addictive behaviour; subsequent therapies are designed to develop coping and avoidance strategies that will enable the patient to live ketamine-free after leaving rehab.
At Addiction Helper, we can guide you through the treatment options available in your area while providing you and your family with all the support you need in your endeavour to get well. All of our services are free and confidential. Rather than continue to live under the control of ketamine, why not contact us today for a free assessment and referral. We want to see you and your family overcome this terrible drug.