Ketamine Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

A Treatment Guide for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug that has been used since the 1960s as a general anesthetic. It can also be used as a sedative or as a painkiller. Ketamine is taken as a white powder and in liquid form when it can be injected or used with an inhaler. It is often used as a club drug and is commonly referred to as Special K, Ket, or K. When taken, the effects can last from a few hours to one week, but they can also last for months if the user continues taking it repeatedly, which is why ketamine has become a popular recreational drug. It has a potential for addiction, but with ketamine addiction treatment, addiction can be overcome.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

Ketamine Abuse

In the past, ketamine was not considered a drug of abuse but more as a party drug that could be used by people who wanted to have a trance-like state. However, in recent years, it has gained a reputation for being a potentially dangerous drug that can cause addiction and that can lead to other problems like memory loss and hallucinations. The main problem with ketamine is that it has become popular in clubs as a party drug since it is affordable and can be bought easily on the black market. However, ketamine does not need to be taken with other drugs. It can cause hallucinations when taken by itself and is highly addictive. Ketamine addiction is a condition in which one experiences a compulsion to use ketamine, whether it be occasionally, daily, or even multiple times per day.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Many people believe that ketamine is not an addictive drug, but this simply is not true. Ketamine addiction is a condition that can cause a person to experience cravings for the drug despite being aware of the physical harm it can create. It has been shown that when taken regularly over a long period of time, ketamine can cause serious health complications. These include memory loss, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Ketamine addiction is a condition that can be overcome with the right treatment plan.

How Ketamine addiction Affects the Brain

Ketamine is a drug that acts on the central nervous system by raising its level in the brain. When consumed orally, ketamine will enter the bloodstream very slowly and can have a long-lasting effect. When it is smoked or snorted, the drug will enter the bloodstream faster, and the user will begin to feel its effects almost immediately. The effects of ketamine include confusion, impaired motor skills, emotional blunting, and hallucination. When ketamine is used regularly, it can have a negative effect on the brain, resulting in both physical and psychological problems.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

The signs of ketamine addiction generally include the following.

Cravings of ketamine addiction

A person who is addicted to ketamine will experience cravings for the drug along with other symptoms of craving. Cravings are considered a physiological need to use the drug and can be a sign of addiction. The cravings result from the brain thinking that ketamine is an important substance, and not having enough of it in the bloodstream will cause a person to experience psychological withdrawals, which are similar to what happens with other drugs.

Compulsive Drug Use

Compulsive use of ketamine may be a sign of addiction. When an addict experiences compulsive drug use, they feel the need to keep using the drug frequently, and this will lead to other problems, like health and social issues. The compulsive use of ketamine can also lead to problems with the law, domestic violence, divorce and relationships, homelessness, and unemployment.

Behavioral Change

A significant behavior change is also a sign that a person is addicted to ketamine. A person who is addicted to ketamine will experience behavioral changes when they do not take the drug, like excessive fear of withdrawal symptoms. They may also act violent, irritable, and angry, leading to violent outbursts.

Memory Loss

Memory loss is a sign of addiction to ketamine because when taking ketamine, it works to affect the brain. Some people can end up with anterograde amnesia, which means they will have problems remembering things that happened while they were under the influence.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person who is addicted to ketamine tries to stop using it, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.


When a person has withdrawal symptoms from ketamine, they may experience nausea. This is one of the most common aspects of withdrawal and may last for a period of one to two weeks.


Insomnia is another common symptom of withdrawal from ketamine and can last for a period of seven to 10 days. Their body is experiencing some changes as it goes into withdrawal from the drug, and this can lead to insomnia. Insomnia is caused by the changes in the brain during withdrawal from the drug and can sometimes last for months after a person has stopped using ketamine.


Paranoia is also another common symptom of withdrawal from ketamine. The paranoia is caused by other changes that are taking place in the brain during withdrawal and can last for weeks after stopping the use of ketamine.

Involuntary Muscle Movements

In some cases of withdrawal from ketamine, a person may experience involuntary muscle movements. These symptoms may begin very soon after ketamine is taken but can last for up to two weeks.


Chills are also a common sign of withdrawal from ketamine, but only in a few cases. Chills are considered to be one of the more severe symptoms of withdrawal from ketamine and can last for weeks after stopping the use of the drug.


People who are addicted to ketamine can experience agitation and anxiety during withdrawal from the drug. Agitation can last for a period of one to two weeks.


Flashbacks are a common withdrawal symptom from ketamine and occur in some cases. Flashbacks are a reoccurrence of the hallucinations and other sensory distortions that the drug causes. They may be caused by some of the changes that occur in brain chemistry when stopping ketamine use.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

There are many different methods of treatment for addiction to ketamine. The type of treatment that will be used depends on the age, the severity of the addiction, and other factors. Here are some of the options that are typically used.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most common type of addiction to ketamine treatment and is suitable for those who need a long-term solution to the ketamine problem. Inpatient treatment is a residential program that lasts up to several months, and this form of treatment can be used for both adults and adolescents. The ketamine addict will receive drug testing, group therapy, and individual therapy sessions. The goal of this type of treatment is to help the individual overcome addiction to ketamine, learn some of the effects, and develop coping skills so they can avoid future drug use.

Outpatient Ketamine Treatment

Outpatient ketamine treatment is suitable for those who do not need a residential ketamine treatment but who do want some of the help that results from these programs. The outpatient treatment may be used for children and adolescents who are still in school, but this could also be a viable option for adults. The outpatient ketamine treatment will give an addict the tools that they need to fight the cravings for the drug and develop coping skills.

Support Groups

Addiction to ketamine support groups is another common form of treatment for addiction to ketamine. These groups provide a safe place for people to come and share their experiences. They also give people the opportunity to talk about their families and friends, how they stopped using ketamine, and how they are recovering from their addiction.


Ketamine detoxification is a form of treatment that is very popular with those who are addicted to the drug. Ketamine detoxification gives an addict the help needed to stop using the drug and keep their cravings under control. It involves medical supervision and can help the person cope with the symptoms of withdrawal.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is also another form of treatment for addiction to ketamine. Individual therapy involves helping a person to understand why they started using the drug and how their life has changed because of it. It gives an individual the tools that they need to overcome their problems and get back on track. Individual therapy is used for both children and adults.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a form of treatment that helps to change the thought patterns of an individual. CBT is known to have a positive effect on the neurotransmitter levels in the brain and can help an individual to change the way they think. It gives the person positive coping strategies, which can help to avoid relapse and learn some of the effects and consequences of using ketamine.


Meditation is a form of ketamine recovery that can be used for both children and adults. It gives the individual tools to cope with the effects of the drug and helps them to break away from the thought patterns that are causing them to use ketamine again. The calm, quiet, and relaxing nature of meditation can give an individual some relief from the effects of ketamine.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is another form of ketamine recovery that is recommended for children, adolescents, and adults. Group therapy is also useful for helping an individual to overcome the cravings that result from ketamine. Group therapy gives the person with ketamine addiction the tools needed to put them in a better state of mind and change their thought patterns. They can work with others to learn how to cope with their addiction and the effects that it has had on their life. Group therapy can also help an individual learn how to deal with the thoughts and ideas that are causing them to use ketamine again.

What to Expect During Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Addiction to ketamine treatment is a way for an individual to overcome their addiction to this drug. The person will have help from both the doctors and other professionals, who can provide guidance and support throughout the recovery process. Here are a few of the things that an individual can experience while they are being treated for addiction to ketamine.


One of the most common side effects of stopping ketamine use is a return of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Cravings are common as the brain needs to be stimulated, and normal chemical processing needs to occur in order for various parts of the brain to function properly. Stopping ketamine results in chemical imbalances, and the brain requires a series of adjustments, which can cause cravings. These cravings can be extremely powerful, and it is important for an individual to get help in order to cope with them. Treatment centers can provide the help that an individual needs to cope with the cravings and help them to recover from their cravings.


Ketamine withdrawal typically occurs around 12 hours after the last dose of ketamine and can last up to a week. The withdrawal symptoms are very similar in pattern to those that occur with other addictive drugs. An individual will experience a period of depression, lack of energy, and a pronounced craving for the drug. It is important for an individual who is withdrawing from ketamine to get in touch with the medical professionals who are supervising their treatment, so the withdrawal can be managed and kept under control. Treatment centers can provide around-the-clock monitoring and supervision that can help to ensure that no complications arise while an individual undergoes ketamine withdrawal.

Addiction to ketamine is a serious problem for many people. The physical and mental effects of the drug can be devastating and difficult to handle. The effects can also be hard to control, which can make it hard for an individual to fight their addiction. There are many different forms of addiction to ketamine treatment, which can give an individual the help they need to combat the side effects of ketamine abuse. The most important part of overcoming an addiction is to get help and start the recovery process. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to ketamine, contact a treatment center today.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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