It’s hard to overcome a drug addiction without help even if you want to stop using. This is just as true for a ketamine addiction as it is for addictions to other drugs. However, treatment is available so that you can manage your addiction and go on to live a healthy, sober life. Before looking for treatment, learn more about why it’s so important.

An Overview of Ketamine

young man in black tshirt worries he has ketamine addictionPeople refer to ketamine by several names such as K, Vitamin K, and Special K. It’s a very strong hallucinogenic anesthetic for medical procedures. Ketamine is so powerful that many people call it a date rape drug. It can make users feel as if they’re detached from their bodies.

Ketamine is available in a few forms, including a liquid, pills and white powder. Any of these forms is unpredictable. Users have trouble gauging when their dose is too much. Overdoses can happen with small amounts of ketamine, especially when users take other drugs with it.

How Ketamine Affects the Body

As a hallucinogenic tranquilizer, ketamine can give people out-of-body experiences and makes them very relaxed. This usually lasts for less than an hour.

Ketamine can also give people auditory and visual disturbances and reduce their sense of touch. Numbness is common and can lead to accidents and injuries. Although they’re still awake, some people have temporary paralysis as well. This can prevent them from moving or talking.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

People who have ketamine addictions may show several signs of their addiction. The following signs generally become more severe when they use higher doses:

  • Agitation
  • Changes in color and sound perception
  • Delusions
  • Dementia
  • Departure from body or identity
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • High blood pressure that drops slowly
  • Nausea
  • Slow breathing
  • Trouble learning or thinking
  • Uncontrolled muscle movement
  • Unusual calmness

Many people who abuse ketamine take so much of the drug that they feel totally separated from their bodies. This can leave them unable to respond to lights, touch and voices. They remain in this state for up to one hour before the high starts to fade.

With chronic abuse, users become psychologically dependent. This usually leaves them unable to think clearly and retain information. They might even have periods of amnesia. It’s common for the drug to cause depression as well.

Ketamine addiction also makes users crave the drug so strongly that they may commit crimes to satisfy the cravings. Although they might feel guilty for committing crimes, they continue abusing the drug because of the strength of the addiction.

Furthermore, people who abuse ketamine often fail to maintain responsibilities at home, school, and work. They also tend to neglect family members and friends, destroying their relationships.

Health Risks of Long-Term Ketamine Use

Along with the above signs of ketamine addiction, there are many health risks associated with long-term use. It affects nearly every part of the body.

Primarily, ketamine can cause abdominal pain. It also damages the bladder and urinary tract. This leads to ketamine bladder syndrome which can cause bladder ulcers, blood in the urine and loss of bladder control.

The likelihood of individuals harming themselves increases because ketamine is an anesthetic. Since they can’t feel that they’re injured, they don’t address the problem. In turn, their injuries tend to be worse. Those who experience temporary paralysis may even be unable to clear their airways. This can lead to choking and other respiratory issues, which can result in death.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction

Individuals who try to stop using ketamine after developing addictions often experience withdrawal symptoms. These are similar to having the flu and can include chills, stiff muscles, sweating, and tiredness. However, other symptoms include anxiety, cravings, depression, dilated pupils, and nightmares. 

Users who want to recover can get help managing these symptoms in proper medical detox. Excitotoxicity can result from ketamine withdrawal, which occurs as a result of long-term ketamine abuse. 

Excitotoxicity is the degeneration and damage of nerve cells as a result of increased exposure to neurotransmitters. The damage is often permanent. 

Other symptoms that characterize ketamine withdrawal include:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Problems with coordination and motor skills.
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate).
  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing).
  • Double vision.

Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms

Ketamine tends to get mixed with other drugs since it’s considered a party drug. This makes the ketamine itself more dangerous as multiple drugs can alter the effects it has.

Withdrawal symptoms of ketamine abuse will be more severe if:

  • Larger doses were taken.
  • Use was frequent.
  • Other drugs were combined 

Ketamine and alcohol are commonly taken together in a party-like setting. If the user tries to stop “cold-turkey,” withdrawal symptoms will occur. Alcohol and ketamine withdrawal symptoms can have fatal consequences if not monitored in a safely controlled medical setting. 

Detox for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine withdrawal does not generally involve intense physical symptoms. Thus, it is often possible to stop drug use altogether without tapering the dose. Stopping ketamine use is crucial to improve bladder function after the damage has been caused.

The detox will vary based on each patient. The severity of the addiction, along with the frequency of use, are important factors to consider. 

The drug detox process helps addicted people to get personalized treatment. In most cases, the process involves three steps:

  • Evaluation

During the evaluation process, doctors use blood tests to measure the number of drugs in the patient’s system. Along with other medical tests, this process helps determine whether or not medication is necessary.

  • Stabilization

Medical and psychological therapy are then administered to the patient. The goal of stabilization is to prevent any form of harm to the individual. 

  • Preparation

This is the final step of the detox process for ketamine addiction. Our medical staff will educate you on the next steps in your treatment plan. Residential treatment provides the best chances of success after detox.

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

After detox, individuals with addictions need to continue treatment to truly recover. In Pompano Beach, Florida, 1st Step Behavioral Health assigns a primary care therapist to each of our clients. We also offer inpatient and outpatient programs. The intensive outpatient treatment program includes:

  • Evidence-based therapies
  • Regular individual and group counseling sessions
  • Structure and support

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is also known as inpatient drug rehabilitation. This requires the patient to reside at a specific facility on a full-time basis. Inpatient rehab for ketamine addiction provides 24/7 medical care and assistance. One of the many reasons this treatment works best is the community and environment. 

Being in a distraction-free setting allows the patient to focus on recovery fully. Treatment includes an assigned room, meals at the facility, and structured therapy sessions several times per day. The main goal of residential treatment is to remove patients from their original environments, which could trigger harmful behaviors. 

The change of setting is a really helpful way of showing the individual a different kind of lifestyle that doesn’t involve substance abuse. 

It is crucial to take part in a program that offers the critical components of a successful inpatient treatment plan. These key components include:

  • Medical detox
  • Individual therapy
  • Medication management
  • Family or couples counseling
  • Addiction education
  • Skills-building sessions
  • Follow-up care
  • Referrals to support groups

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is similar to residential treatment but offers a much more flexible approach. Patients do not need to reside at the facility. However, patients are required to check in with therapists regularly at the facility. You or a loved one will be able to create a schedule that works best. 

The length of the program will vary based on the patient’s needs. Outpatient rehab works best for people who need the support of family and friends to increase their chance of success. Outpatient rehab is also a great option for those who have obligations they must attend to.

This can include a child to take care of or classes at school. No matter the circumstance, outpatient rehab allows you to create a personalized schedule based on your needs.

Another benefit of outpatient rehab is that it’s generally less expensive than residential care. However, it still provides quality substance abuse counseling. Health insurance is accepted at outpatient treatment facilities and covers the cost of most of the treatments.

In 1995, the International Journal for Quality in Health Care conducted a study that identified eight characteristics of ideal psychiatric outpatient care:

  • Accessibility of the care
  • Contentedness with treatment
  • Relationship between staff and client
  • Continuity of care
  • Professionalism of staff
  • Client information and co-influence
  • Treatment environment
  • Cost of care

Call Us Today

If you or someone you love is ready to end ketamine addiction, 1st Step Behavioral Health is prepared to help you get there. Understanding how treatment works allow you to move forward in getting the treatment you need. Our goal is to set you off on your road to long-lasting sobriety with the necessary tools to maintain it.

No matter what stage you’re at, long-lasting sobriety is possible. You can learn from these challenges and use them to propel you forward. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.