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Ketamine Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic approved by the FDA in 1970, is commonly utilized for anesthetic procedures in both humans and animals. While it played a significant role as an anesthetic during the Vietnam War, its more recent applications extend to managing treatment-resistant depression. Additionally, ketamine has been considered for treating chronic pain, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

Despite its therapeutic uses, ketamine is also used recreationally to induce euphoric and dissociative effects that can cause someone to feel as if they are melting into their surroundings or having a full out of body experience. Regrettably, ketamine has also been misused as a date-rape drug, immobilizing victims against their will.

In 1999, pharmaceutical ketamine was classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. While recognized for its therapeutic benefits, ketamine carries a potential for misuse, heightening the risk of various undesirable effects, including both physical and psychological dependence. Read on to discover:

  • How addictive is ketamine?
  • Can you get addicted to ketamine after therapeutic use?
  • How to get help for ketamine addiction in California.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

While initially developed as an anesthetic with therapeutic applications, ketamine addiction risk means it was categorized as a Schedule III drug. Several factors contribute to ketamine’s addictive nature. People using ketamine may develop tolerance over time, meaning that higher doses are required to deliver the same effects. Tolerance build-up can contribute to an escalation in usage and the acceleration of physical dependence on ketamine.

Ketamine abuse is often associated with intense cravings and urges. The desire to re-experience the euphoric and dissociative effects of the drug can lead to compulsive use.

Long-term ketamine abuse effects may include both physical and psychological dependence. The body may become reliant on the substance to function normally and attempts to quit may trigger ketamine withdrawals symptoms. These symptoms can include anxiety, depression, irritability, and physical discomfort.

Ketamine addiction often leads to a neglect of daily responsibilities, strained relationships, and a decline in overall well-being. If the substance begins to interfere significantly with work, school, or personal life, it indicates an addictive pattern. Even when people are aware of the negative physical, mental, and social consequences of ketamine use, the addictive nature of the substance can make it challenging to quit.

The onset of withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological, when attempting to cease ketamine use is a clear indication of addiction.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

Addiction to ketamine can rapidly develop due to tolerance build-up. When someone becomes addicted to ketamine, the following signs may manifest:

  • Sweating
  • Excessive salivation
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Watery eyes
  • Delusions
  • Shaking
  • Low appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Nightmares
  • Chills

Ketamine addiction not only leads to physical symptoms but also disrupts daily life and activities. If substance misuse begins to interfere with work, school, and personal relationships, it serves as a potential indicator of ketamine addiction.

image of woman representing ketamine addiction symptoms

Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction

DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) outlines the following symptoms of ketamine addiction:

  1. Devoting a significant amount of time to acquiring, consuming, and recovering from the physical and psychological effects of ketamine.
  2. Persistent desire to quit ketamine use, with unsuccessful attempts despite multiple attempts.
  3. Taking ketamine in larger amounts or over longer durations than initially intended.
  4. Strong and recurring cravings for ketamine consumption.
  5. Inability to carry out daily tasks and activities due to an excessive preoccupation with ketamine.
  6. Continued usage despite awareness of the negative physical and psychological consequences, such as a ketamine comedown.
  7. Disengagement from once-enjoyed activities in favor of using ketamine.
  8. Social and recreational group avoidance, leading to an interruption in social connections.
  9. Continued ketamine use despite potential negative consequences, such as impaired driving.
  10. Increased tolerance, meaning that more ketamine is required to achieve desired effects.
  11. Onset of withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological, when ketamine use is discontinued.

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Addressing ketamine addiction typically involves a comprehensive and personalized approach that considers the person’s physical and psychological well-being. Several different treatment modalities may be employed to support individuals in overcoming ketamine addiction.

Medical detoxification

In cases of severe ketamine dependence, a supervised medical detoxification may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms safely. This process involves gradually tapering the drug under medical supervision.

Inpatient rehab

Inpatient rehab provides a structured and supportive environment for individuals to focus on recovery. This often includes counseling, therapy, and activities designed to address the underlying factors contributing to addiction.

Outpatient rehab

Outpatient programs allow individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily responsibilities. This approach may involve counseling, group therapy, and support meetings.

Behavioral therapies

Various behavioral therapies, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and contingency management, can be effective in addressing the psychological aspects of ketamine addiction. These therapies help people identify and modify patterns of thinking and behavior associated with substance use.

Support groups

Participation in support groups like 12-step programs or group therapy provides people in recovery with a sense of community and shared experiences. These groups offer a platform for mutual support and encouragement.

Individual counseling

One-on-one counseling sessions with a trained therapist or counselor can help people explore underlying issues contributing to addiction, develop coping strategies, and set goals for recovery.

Family therapy

Involving family members in the recovery process can be beneficial for everyone concerned. Family therapy helps address interpersonal dynamics, enhance communication, and create a supportive environment for the individual in recovery.

Holistic interventions

Holistic therapies, including mindfulness, yoga, and art therapy, can complement traditional treatment methods by promoting overall well-being and stress reduction.

Aftercare planning

A robust aftercare plan can increase the chances of sustained recovery. This might include ongoing therapy, participation in support groups, and strategies to navigate challenges in daily life without resorting to substance use.

Dual diagnosis treatment

For individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders, a dual diagnosis approach addresses both substance use and mental health issues simultaneously.

Seeking professional guidance is paramount in determining the most appropriate treatment plan for ketamine addiction. Tailoring interventions to the individual’s needs ensures a more effective and sustainable recovery journey. Here’s how you can get help right away in Southern California.

a man celebrating which represents how to get ketamine addiction treatment

Get Treatment for Ketamine Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you find yourself trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction, reach out to Drug Rehab Centers for on-the-spot assistance.

We can help you access medical detox centers, inpatient rehabs, outpatient treatment centers, and addiction specialists throughout California, enabling you to connect with ketamine addiction treatment at an appropriate level of intensity.

All the rehab centers that we recommend employ evidence-based treatments that deliver effective outcomes. Call 844.739.2005 today and begin your recovery from ketamine addiction right away.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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