Causes & Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Understanding Ketamine Abuse

Learn about ketamine abuse

Ketamine is a substance used as an anaesthetic, for pain management, and within veterinary medicine. However, this drug has become a popular substance of abuse because it creates a tranquilizing, catatonic high.

Unfortunately, because of these effects, ketamine is also used as a date rape drug. Ketamine can be smoked, injected, snorted, or even added to drinks because it is tasteless. When a person unknowingly ingests ketamine, they may be rendered unconscious and defenseless.

Due to its potency, many who abuse ketamine face serious damages to their health and well-being, and addiction is a very real risk. If you have developed a dependence on ketamine, know that you are not alone. The staff members at Duffy’s are here to offer you the treatment services you need to overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.


Ketamine abuse statistics

Dissociative drugs like ketamine are abused much less frequently than other substances. Therefore, there is a lack of credible information surrounding the current rates of ketamine abuse. A 2010 survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides some insight into ketamine use among the young:

  • Ketamine use was reported by 1% of 8th-graders (an increase from 2008 of .05%).
  • 10th-graders reported ketamine use at 1.3%.
  • 7% of 12th-graders reported using ketamine.

It should be noted that the percentages of 10th– and 12th-graders reporting ketamine use in 2010, while still relatively low, declined significantly from previous years.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ketamine abuse

Your risk for ketamine abuse and addiction can be influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Having easy access to ketamine
  • Having a novelty-seeking personality
  • Lacking impulse control
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ketamine abuse

The following signs and symptoms of ketamine abuse may indicate that a person has a problem with this drug:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Continuing to use ketamine despite negative side effects
  • Using ketamine in dangerous situations
  • Taking ketamine more frequently or in larger doses than prescribed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Trying but failing to stop using ketamine
  • Trying to steal ketamine
  • Trying to borrow or steal money in order to buy ketamine
  • Trying to obtain ketamine illegally

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Depression

Mental symptoms:

  • Poor decision-making
  • Amnesia
  • Hallucinations
  • Experiencing the “K-Hole,” an out-of-body experience
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to focus


Effects of ketamine abuse

The side effects of ketamine abuse can include the following:

  • Legal problems
  • Social isolation
  • Sexual problems
  • Job loss
  • Family discord
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Suicide attempts
  • Homelessness
  • Money problems
  • Development of mental health problems
  • Respiratory damage
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Strained relationships

Dual Diagnosis

Ketamine abuse and dual diagnosis

If you struggle with ketamine abuse and addiction, you may also have a heightened risk for developing certain additional mental health disorders. Clinicians refer to the simultaneous presence of ketamine addiction and another mental health disorder as dual diagnosis. Ketamine abuse and addiction have been associated with the following disorders:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder

The signs, symptoms, and effects of ketamine addiction can be impacted by the presence of additional disorders. People whose addiction is accompanied by other disorders need comprehensive dual diagnosis care. If you fail to receive effective professional dual diagnosis programming, you may struggle to achieve and maintain long-term recovery.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of ketamine withdrawal and overdose

Effects of withdrawal: If you become dependent upon ketamine, your body will adapt to the presence of the drug. When you try to end your ketamine use, your body may respond with various uncomfortable symptoms. Common ketamine withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Watery eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Strong cravings for ketamine
  • Inability to sleep
  • Twitches and tremors
  • Runny nose

Effects of overdose: If a person abuses ketamine and then experiences the following symptoms, they may have overdosed. Anyone who overdoses on ketamine needs immediate medical attention:

  • Coma
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing problems
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed heart rate


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