Ketamine Addiction | What is Ketamine and what does it do?
What is Ketamine
Ketamine is a powerful dissociative anesthetic in use since the 1960s in operating rooms and other emergency medical situations. In the military, it has value for its fast-acting pain relief, where a Ketamine injection brings instant relief for soldiers with wounds.
While it still has a wide range of medical uses, there is also frequent abuse as a recreational drug. There are a number of slang terms including K and Special K.
Ketamine appears in either liquid or powder form. In the medical world it is generally administered as a liquid via injection. With illicit use, it is often evaporated into a powder that is snorted, smoked, or swallowed. Ketamine addiction is a serious concern.
Ketamine for Pain
Ketamine’s effects kick in almost immediately and usually last around an hour. During this time, an individual has a reduction in ability to feel and react to pain. They may also have “out of body” experiences such as feelings of floating or a separation from reality caused by the drug’s dissociative properties.
Because of its strong side effects, ketamine is more often tranquilizer for animals than as a treatment for humans. Many people who use it illegally get their supply from veterinary clinics by robbing their supply stores or via illicit purchases.
Ketamine for Depression
In medically-controlled doses, Ketamine can be a powerful, rapid-action antidepressant. Researchers have been studying its efficacy against suicidal urges for the past 20 years, finding that it could save lives in cases of severe depression. Because it works faster than most depression medications, it can curb suicidal thoughts in emergency mental health situations when other treatments aren’t working. Once a crisis has been averted, doctors and patients can begin looking at other depression treatments.
While some doctors have had incredible success in administering it as an emergency treatment, it is not meant for the long-term. Using Ketamine illegally as self-treatment for depression or pain opens the door to abuse, addiction, and unpredictable side effects.
Ketamine Abuse, Risks, and Addiction
Ketamine has been abused since the 1980s, when it became popular as a “club drug” along with MDMA and cocaine. Its tranquilizing properties also earned it a reputation as a date rape drug in the 1980s and 1990s.
It is still popular among teens and young adults, who take it hoping to experience short-term feelings of euphoria and out-of-body hallucinations. It is frequently in drug cocktails with alcohol, MDMA, and other party drugs, increasing the potential for overdose and negative side effects. Mixing Ketamine and alcohol creates especially dangerous reactions that slow motor reactions, increase risk of amnesia, coma and death.
Ketamine abuse potentially harms the brain and body in many different ways. Its main purpose is also one of its most dangerous side effects: the inability to feel pain. Without medical supervision, people on Ketamine can seriously injure themselves without knowing it. The hallucinatory state it puts people into also increases a person’s likelihood of doing dangerous things. The out-of-body experience can also be incredibly frightening, triggering psychosis and panic attacks. Overdose potentially induces extreme terror, delirium, and life-threatening respiratory problems.
Ketamine Side Effects
Other Ketamine side effects include:
- Slowed motor function
- Bladder pain and ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Urinary tract problems
Long-term Ketamine abuse increases the severity of these side effects and it is possible to result in dependence. It is possible for long-term Ketamine affects to permanently damage cognitive function. Further, the toll Ketamine overdose takes on the body sometimes results in chronic injuries and illness.
Like many other prescriptions drugs that treat mental health and mood disorders, it is possible for ketamine use to deal with depression to backfire. Further, it is possible for self-treatment with high doses to actually worsen someone’s depression over time.
Signs of Ketamine addiction include preoccupation with getting the drug, regular unconsciousness and apathy, serious memory problems, and depression. There is a serious possibility for ketamine addiction to seriously damage the course of someone’s life, including deadly consequences.
Treatment and Recovery
Ketamine addiction is not something most people are able to overcome alone. A medically-supervised detox is usually the right choice for someone going through Ketamine withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms are akin to the flu’s, and possibly include high fever, chills, and body aches along with nightmares, depression, and cravings for up to a week. Medical detox helps ease the pain and discomfort of this time period, and it is better to monitor patients for any serious complications.
After this, inpatient treatment and extended outpatient therapy are vital for ongoing recovery. Long-term Ketamine withdrawal symptoms sometimes continue for months. In some cases, they even include flashbacks or “Ketamine PTSD,” when someone temporarily re-experiences feelings or memories of being on the drug. Treatment and therapy are helpful as an individual learns to manage these, understand how and why the development of addiction, and deal with recurring cravings.
At Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ, we take a different approach to drug addiction rehabilitation. By combining clinical treatment and holistic therapies, we provide our clients with all the tools they need to achieve a life free from addiction.