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Ketamine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

image of woman representing ketamine withdrawal

Ketamine differs from many other abused substances in that it doesn’t typically result in physical dependence. That said, ketamine abuse can give rise to significant psychological dependence.

Ceasing ketamine use may trigger uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Individuals seeking recovery from ketamine addiction can safely undergo withdrawal with the guidance and supervision of trained medical professionals.

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Ketamine withdrawal occurs when you discontinue use after developing a dependence or addiction to the dissociative.

Withdrawal symptoms of ketamine can manifest as soon as 24 hours after the last ketamine dose. The comedown from ketamine may last for a few days to a week or more.

Ketamine mainly exerts its effects on the brain’s NMDA receptor and also affects various neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, through inhibitory actions.

These interactions in the brain are responsible for the hallucinogenic and euphoric sensations people seek when using ketamine.

Prolonged ketamine use can lead the brain to rely on the continued presence of the drug to achieve its desired effects. When ketamine is no longer available, the brain reacts with both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Ketamine withdrawals involve both physical and psychological aspects.

One of the most severe and potentially dangerous symptoms of ketamine addiction withdrawal is excitotoxicity, which involves the breakdown and damage of nerve cells due to excessive exposure to neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). While rare, this form of nerve cell damage can result in permanent harm.

Other acute ketamine withdrawal effects include:

  • Double vision
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired motor skills or coordination
  • Nausea
  • Hearing disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation

Ketamine detoxification can be intensely uncomfortable and is best performed under controlled clinical conditions.

image of woman representing ketamine withdrawal symptoms

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms can vary in their duration and presentation during the ketamine comedown. Individual experiences may differ based on factors like the duration and extent of ketamine use, individual metabolism, and overall health. Here’s a general overview of how long ketamine detox lasts:

First 24 to 72 hours

Within the first day or two after the last dose of ketamine, early withdrawal symptoms present. Symptoms may include anxiety, restlessness, increased heart rate, and cravings for ketamine. Some people may also experience mood swings, depression, or insomnia during this period.

Days 3 to 7

In the following days, withdrawal symptoms may intensify and peak. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and cravings may become more pronounced. Physical symptoms like increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and elevated blood pressure can persist. Insomnia may continue to be a challenge for some people.

Days 7 to 14

By the second week of withdrawal, symptoms often start to gradually improve.

The intensity of cravings for ketamine may begin to subside. Mood swings and depression may become more manageable. Physical symptoms like elevated heart rate and blood pressure may start to normalize. Sleep patterns should gradually return to a more regular cycle.

Weeks 2 to 4

In the weeks following ketamine cessation, many people experience a significant reduction in withdrawal symptoms. Cravings for ketamine become less intense and more controllable. Mood stabilizes, and feelings of depression and anxiety continue to improve. Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and rapid breathing typically return to baseline levels. Most people can expect improved sleep quality during this period.

The duration and intensity of ketamine withdrawal can vary widely from person to person. Some people may experience a shorter and less severe withdrawal period, while others may face a more prolonged and challenging recovery process. Seeking medical support and professional guidance during withdrawal is highly recommended to ensure a safer and more comfortable transition to a drug-free state. Additionally, ongoing counseling and therapy may be beneficial for addressing the psychological aspects of ketamine dependence and promoting long-term recovery.

Ketamine Withdrawal Treatment

Managing ketamine withdrawal requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of dependence. Treatment should be individualized to meet the specific needs of the person going through withdrawal.

  • Medical assessment: Before beginning any treatment, a medical assessment is crucial to evaluate the person’s overall health and the extent of ketamine dependence. This assessment helps determine the appropriate level of care and any potential medical complications.
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab: Depending on the severity of ketamine withdrawal and associated medical or psychiatric issues, individuals may undergo treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Inpatient care provides a structured and supportive environment, while outpatient care enables people to pursue their ketamine recovery while living at home.
  • Tapering: In many cases, a gradual tapering of ketamine may be recommended to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms. A medical professional can develop a tapering schedule tailored to the person’s unique needs.
  • Medications: There are currently no specific medications approved for the treatment of ketamine withdrawal. That said, medications may be prescribed to manage specific withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbances.
  • Psychological support: Therapy is a crucial component of ketamine withdrawal treatment. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), MET (motivational enhancement therapy), and CM (contingency management) are effective approaches for addressing the psychological aspects of addiction and helping individuals develop coping strategies.
  • Support groups: Support groups, such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery, can provide valuable peer support and a sense of community for individuals in recovery. These groups offer a platform to share experiences and learn from others who have overcome addiction.
  • Holistic interventions: Complementary therapies like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help people in managing stress, anxiety, and cravings during withdrawal.
  • Nutritional support: A balanced diet and proper hydration during withdrawal will support overall health and accelerate physical recovery.
  • Mental health evaluation: Co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety or depression are common among individuals with ketamine addiction. A comprehensive mental health evaluation can identify any underlying issues that require integrated treatment.
  • Long-term planning: Effective treatment extends beyond the withdrawal phase. A long-term plan for relapse prevention and ongoing support is critical for maintaining sobriety. This may involve continued therapy, participation in support groups, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Family involvement: In many cases, family therapy or education can help family members understand addiction and provide support to their loved ones in recovery.

Ketamine withdrawal can be challenging, and relapse is a strong risk. Therefore, seeking professional help from addiction specialists and healthcare providers is highly advisable. Tailored treatment plans can significantly improve the chances of successful recovery and long-term sobriety from ketamine addiction.

a man celebrating which represents learning about  ketamine withdrawal treatment

Find Treatment for Ketamine Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you or a loved one needs help addressing ketamine addiction, it can be overwhelming trying to locate the most effective treatment. Shortcut your search by reaching out to Drug Rehabs Centers in Southern California.

We can help you find licensed medical detox centers near you, enabling you to begin your recovery the right way. Access to medications and clinical care streamlines the drug or alcohol withdrawal process and enables you to tackle the issue of physical dependence. Detox takes about one week.

We’ll also help connect you with reputable rehabs throughout the state of California. All of the inpatient and outpatient treatment centers we recommend use a blend of evidence-based and holistic therapies to help you move beyond a life defined by addiction.

Call (844) 739-2005 for immediate assistance fighting addiction in Southern California.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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