What is Ketamine?

Before gaining popularity as a recreational drug, ketamine was primarily used for medical procedures such as surgery, diagnostic tests, and medical interventions because of its ability to induce anesthesia and provide pain relief.

Ketamine is a dissociative drug that can make a person feel disconnected from themselves and their surroundings. It has gained popularity in recent years as a recreational drug, with many users drawn to the experience for its sensory changes and escape from reality.

The most common phenomenon associated with higher doses of ketamine is the ‘K-hole,’ or out-of-body sensation in which the user enters a dissociative state and becomes disconnected from reality, causing severe impairment and lack of control over their body. This is also referred to and described as a near-death experience.

Ketamine’s effects on both the brain and body contribute to its unique psychoactive properties, making it a popular choice in medical settings, as well as a recreational drug.

How Does Ketamine Work?

Ketamine affects the brain by blocking a neurotransmitter called glutamate. This blockage decreases the activity of specific brain circuits responsible for perception, emotion, and memory. Additionally, ketamine interacts with other parts of the brain involved in mood and pain sensations, leading to altered sensory perceptions, dissociation, and hallucinations.

What Does a K-Hole Feel Like?

Experiencing a K-hole or “falling into a K-hole” is described as a dreamlike state in which the user is completely disconnected from reality, their own body and may have difficulty moving or speaking. People often report sensations of floating, hallucinations, time distortion, and an altered perception of reality, where everyday sensations are distorted or completely absent. The person in the K-hole may appear to have become catatonic or zombie-like to those observing.

How Long Does a K-Hole Last?

The duration of a K-hole depends on multiple factors, including the user’s metabolism, the dose of ketamine consumed, and their sensitivity to the drug. A typical K-hole experience may last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. However, the physical and psychological effects of ketamine can linger for several hours after consumption, including disorientation, confusion, and paranoia.

K-Hole Short-term Effects

While some individuals may seek out K-Holes for their unique experiences on the mind and body, others may find the effects overwhelming. Short-term effects of a K-Hole may include:


Individuals may feel completely detached from their surroundings, themselves, and reality, leading to a sense of being disconnected or “floating” away.

Altered Perception and Hallucinations

Users may experience changes in visual, auditory, and tactile experiences. Colors may appear more vibrant, sounds distorted, and sensations may feel heightened or dulled. Additionally, immersive hallucinations may occur.

Time Distortion

Time may feel prolonged or condensed, leading to a sense of timelessness or disorientation.

Impaired Motor Function

Movement may become difficult or impaired, leading individuals to feel “stuck” or unable to move their bodies voluntarily.

Psychological Impact

While the dissociative effects of Ketamine leave some individuals experiencing feelings of euphoria or tranquility during a K-hole, others may experience intense anxiety, panic, or confusion, which may lead to long-term psychological distress.

K-Hole Long-term Effects

While the effects of a K-hole are typically temporary, long-term misuse of ketamine can lead to ongoing dissociative and psychotic symptoms in some individuals, including:

Physical Harm

Individuals in a K-hole may be unable to move or respond to their environment, increasing the risk of accidents or injury, especially if they are alone. Other physical effects of K-holes include nausea, dizziness, irregular heart rate, seizures, and paralysis.

Psychological Distress

The intense psychological effects of a K-hole can lead to the user feeling detached from reality and increased feelings of confusion, anxiety, paranoia or panic.

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)

In rare cases, overuse of ketamine can lead to HPPD, a condition in which one has flashbacks or visual disturbances such as geometric patterns, distorted sizes or colors, and bright lights that won’t fade. These disturbances can persist even after the effects of ketamine wear off and may cause distress and difficulty in daily life.

Respiratory Depression

High doses of ketamine can suppress breathing, posing a risk to respiratory health. The risks become greater when ketamine is used with other drugs that also impact breathing.

Memory Loss

Chronic ketamine use has been known to cause short-term memory loss. Additionally, even after someone stops using ketamine, they might have prolonged trouble with memory and learning.

Mental Health Risks

Prolonged ketamine use has been associated with the development of several psychiatric disorders and mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.


Chronic misuse of ketamine, including frequent experiences of K-holes, may lead to long-term addictive properties such as tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

The intense experience of a K-hole may lead individuals to seek out ketamine repeatedly, therefore increasing the risk of addiction. Knowing the signs of ketamine addiction and ketamine overdose is important for anyone worried about themselves or their loved ones. By recognizing the signs of addiction, one can take the necessary steps to get help.

  • Increased Tolerance: Needing more ketamine to achieve the desired effects.
  • Withdrawal: Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms similar to a K-hole when not using ketamine such as hallucinations, out-of-body sensations and altered reality.
  • Cravings: Strong urge or desire to use ketamine.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to ketamine use.
  • Financial Problems: Spending a significant amount of money on acquiring ketamine.
  • Health Issues: Experiencing physical or mental health problems as a result of ketamine use, such as anxiety, depression, decreased motor control, or difficulty breathing.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Significant changes in behavior, habits, or routines to accommodate ketamine use such as social isolation.
  • Continued Use Despite Consequences: Using ketamine despite causing persistent harm.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for ketamine use disorders involve a combination of therapies tailored to the individual’s needs. Common treatment options include:

Get Help Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, we’re here to help. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, our expert team of addiction specialists and therapists is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where individuals can begin their journey to long-lasting recovery. Contact us today to get started.

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