Ketamine Abuse Issues

Ketamine is a drug that has been used in veterinary medicine since the 1960s. However, many curious drug users take this drug from veterinary offices. Then ketamine is used for recreational purposes.The use of the drug in this way can have a catastrophic and long-lasting impact on a person’s health.

Ketamine’s Short-Term Effects

ketamine abuseUsers typically inject ketamine into their muscles. However, some users choose to drink or snort the drug. Ketamine travels to the glutamate receptors in the brain.This causes changes in the way the brain produces and processes this neurotransmitter. Those under the influence of ketamine may experience sensory hallucinations.This includes seeing distorted colors and shapes. Users might also hear sounds others cannot hear.

While this might sound pleasant, those who take ketamine may also experience terrifying visions that seem real. Ketamine can also cause a sense of disassociation. When this happens, the user feels completely detached from his body. He is also unable to control his body. People who are on a “bad trip” may lash out in violent attacks against the people who surround them. Those who have these symptoms might also hurt themselves as they attempt to fight back against demons no one else sees. It’s worth mentioning that ketamine abuse is illegal.Some individuals go to jail for merely possessing the drug.

Ketamine’s effects are short-lived and last for about 30 minutes or less. Because of this, ketamine users may be tempted to piggyback one dose on top of another. This is an extremely dangerous practice. Users may take high doses of the drug during one of these binges. They may even land in the emergency room as a result. In 2011, there were 529 emergency visits blamed on ketamine.[1] It’s quite possible that other people landed in the emergency room due to ketamine as well. However, ketamine is relatively new, so it is likely the user’s visits weren’t attributed to ketamine. Once an individual goes to the hospital, he is often treated with supportive measures. These help him stay safe and hydrated until the drug wears off.

As mentioned above, some ketamine users experience very negative side effects while they’re under the influence. These symptoms can vary, but common negative side effects include:

  • Inability to speak
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of coordination
  • Increased body temperature[2]

Researchers note that many users found these symptoms to be so disturbing that they chose to stop taking the drug altogether. The experience was a deterrent to future drug use. While not everyone experiences these negative symptoms, those who continue drug use may face even more side effects.

Long-Term Problems

health effectsPeople who take very high doses of ketamine can develop a flashback syndrome in which their brains replay the negative side effects of drug abuse. These episodes can occur anytime, even when the person is driving, at work or asleep. While therapy helps people cope with these flashbacks, there are no reliable treatments that can keep flashbacks from returning.

A ketamine binge can lead to the development of dystonia. This is a condition in which the muscles twist and contort in a way the person cannot control. While dystonia caused by ketamine can sometimes be treated with medications, and the condition can be resolved in a matter of hours. But it’s possible that high doses of ketamine could cause the damage to take longer to resolve or perhaps not resolve at all.[3]

Some ketamine users develop very high blood pressure and pulse readings. After the drug leaves the body, the heart tends to return to its normal patterns. However, if a person has an underlying heart condition, ketamine abuse can cause stress to the heart. This makes the original illness much worse. Sometimes, this damage is not reversible.

teenResearch shows that ketamine attacks the urinary tract. A study found that 71 percent had inflammation in the cells of the bladder, and 51 percent had hydronephrosis (water inside the kidneys). These patients displayed a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Increased urinary frequency
  • A severe urge to urinate
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in the urine[4]

Some urinary issues can be resolved with medication. Individuals with severe damage may need to use dialysis machines for the rest of their lives. Organ transplants can help with the damage, but these transplants are not available to current drug users. It is vital that anyone who has urinary tract issues stops ketamine abuse immediately.

Getting Help

Experts typically describe a drug as addictive once a user develops a tolerance to it. In addition, the individual is not able to discontinue drug use. According to research cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is some evidence that suggests that people who abuse ketamine can develop a tolerance for the drug. This leads to using higher doses of the drug because the original dosage does not cause any effects at all.[5]

Therapy is very effective in the fight against a ketamine addiction. In therapy, people learn more about the core reason for drug use. They also learn how to use the power of the mind to keep urges to use drugs under control. At The Canyon, we offer both inpatient and outpatient care for ketamine addiction. We’re happy to help you make a decision about the type of care that’s right for you. Please call our toll-free line to talk to a counselor.

[1] Club Drugs Facts and Figures.

[2] Patterns of use and harms associated with non-medical ketamine use. Dillon, Paul.

[3] Dystonic reaction after ketamine abuse. Felser, James.

[4] The destruction of the lower urinary tract by ketamine abuse: a new syndrome? Chu, Peggy Sau-Kwan. August 1st, 2008.

[5] Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.