What are the Signs of Ketamine Abuse and Where Should Someone Go for Treatment?

Ketamine Abuse and Treatment

Ketamine is a synthetic drug that is used in veterinary practices as a tranquilizer. But unfortunately, ketamine started becoming known as a “club drug” in the late 1980s. Despite its medical benefits, the substance does have a high risk of abuse. When taken for recreational purposes, ketamine can cause severe distortions in a user’s perception and cause amnesia. It is sometimes used as a date rape drug. Unfortunately, some people may find the effects of ketamine enjoyable and become addicted to the drug.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a liquid anesthetic that is mostly used in veterinary medicine but is sometimes used to treat depression and other health problems in humans. In medical settings, ketamine is injected. But when used illicitly, ketamine is usually evaporated into a powder form. When taken to get high, ketamine produces a hallucinatory effect. Chemically and structurally, the drug is similar to PCP.

What are the effects of ketamine?

After someone snorts or swallows ketamine, they will experience many effects shortly after taking the drug. Those effects can include the following symptoms of a ketamine high:

  • Extreme calmness
  • Changes in perceptions of sound and color
  • Feeling dissociated from the body or an identity
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Problems concentrating
  • Stomach upset
  • Dilated pupils
  • Spasms
  • Amnesia
  • Depressed breathing
  • An initial increase in blood pressure before blood pressure drops
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium

A ketamine high only lasts about an hour before the effects begin to fade away. High doses of ketamine can cause severe cognitive impairment, memory problems, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory issues. Some users may even experience clinical depression after high doses of ketamine abuse.

Despite the dangers, some users may enjoy the dissociative and hallucinatory effects of the drug and may start to take more and more of it. Eventually, their body will become tolerant of ketamine. It can be easy for people to become psychologically dependent on the drug.

Who is most likely to abuse ketamine?

People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rates of ketamine abuse. Those who suffer from clinical depression and suicide ideation are at high-risk of self-medicating with ketamine. In fact, ketamine is currently being studied as an alternative therapy for suicidal urges and major depression. Controlled doses of ketamine in medical settings have been found to alleviate suicidal urges in depressed patients immediately. Although controlled doses of ketamine have a therapeutic effect, ketamine’s potential for abuse is still a concern. Ketamine is most often abuse in nightclubs and at parties, where it is used as a way to get high quickly.

How addictive is ketamine?

neural pathways. Once someone becomes addicted to ketamine, they usually experience significant cognitive symptoms that can make it incredibly difficult for them to quit on their own. Ketamine addiction is also associated with distressing withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnea
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Problems with motor skills and coordination
  • Double vision

Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity, depending on how much ketamine the person abused and how long they abused the drug. Since ketamine is a party drug and is often taken in nightclub settings, users typically abuse other substances in addition to ketamine. When someone attempts to quit both ketamine and another drug at the same time, withdrawal symptoms are heightened. Polydrug use is usually associated with more severe withdrawal periods and higher relapse rates. Although polydrug abuse is harder to treat, it is not impossible. With help from professionals, people who abuse ketamine and other substances can safely recover from addiction to multiple substances.

Who needs treatment for ketamine abuse?

Ketamine is a dangerous drug that can cause significant impairment in day-to-day functioning. Also, there are many long-term health consequences associated with the drug. If someone is exhibiting signs of ketamine addiction, then they need to receive prompt drug abuse treatment. The most common symptoms of ketamine addiction include the following:

  • Changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia, and fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Problems concentrating
  • Frequent states of drowsiness and distraction
  • Reduced ability to feel pain or physical discomfort
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Flushing
  • Incontinence

If a person continues to use ketamine despite the negative consequences, then they are suffering from addiction. For concerned friends and family, it is crucial that they encourage their loved one to attend a detox facility and rehab center.

Because many people who abuse ketamine are self-medicating depression symptoms, a drug abuse center can help uncover underlying, comorbid issues that may be contributing to a person’s ketamine addiction. Almost 50% of people who enter a drug rehabilitation center are also suffering from an untreated, comorbid mental health condition.

What does treatment for ketamine addiction look like?

Once someone stops taking ketamine, the cravings for the drug and the cognitive side effects of ketamine use can last for weeks, or sometimes months. If someone goes to a detox and rehab center, they can receive round-the-clock supervision by trained and licensed medical doctors. Medical detox can help someone safely taper off ketamine and prevent withdrawal symptoms from being severe or long-lasting. Being in a supportive and drug-free environment can also prevent someone from relapsing during the worst of the withdrawal phase.

After someone safely withdrawals from ketamine, they can benefit from one-on-one therapy or group therapy settings. Becoming addicted to a drug and then going through the painful process of withdrawal and rehabilitation can cause a lot of overwhelming emotions. Therapy gives people a chance to process these emotions and develop healthy coping skills to prevent relapse.

If someone became addicted to ketamine as a well to self-medicate depression symptoms, depression disorder could be addressed in therapy. Patients can be given the tools necessary to prevent a relapse of both depression and drug addiction.

While drug addiction is a devastating and dangerous disease, it is treatable. Please reach out to a drug abuse therapist to explore your treatment options for drug addiction and Mission Harbor will assist you or your loved ones in their time of need.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

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