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Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is legally used in the medical field in human anesthesia and is additionally widely used in veterinary medicine. As a hallucinogen, it works by causing an individual to feel detached from reality. It induces a dissociative state, while also providing pain relief, memory loss, and sedation. When ketamine is used legally only a qualified professional administers it. Ketamine that is illegally procured is often done so via a veterinarians’ office. Ketamine is manufactured as an injectable liquid, but when sold illicitly is often evaporated to form a powder. It is odorless and tasteless. When used illegally, ketamine can be snorted, smoked, injected and/ or eaten. In 1999, ketamine was classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. 

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is different and may exhibit a unique combination of signs and symptoms when it comes to ketamine abuse. Commonly reported signs and/ or symptoms associated with ketamine abuse include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Amnesia
  • Impaired motor function
  • Delirium 
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Agitation
  • Bladder pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness 

With prolonged abuse, any individual will likely develop a tolerance to ketamine, which can increase his or her risk for developing severe short and long-term consequences. 

Detox and Withdrawal

As is true when beginning treatment for any habitually abused substance, it must begin with the detox process. The detox phase rids one’s body of any abused and/ or foreign substances. This is an essential step an individual must undergo when recovering from ketamine abuse. According to American Addiction Centers, ketamine withdrawal symptoms begin approximately twenty-four hours after an individual’s last dose and will generally subside around six days after one’s last dose. Some common withdrawal symptoms from ketamine addiction include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nightmares
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Restlessness 

Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s physical manifestation of experiencing the absence of a substance (ketamine) of which it had become reliant upon to properly function. The most dangerous withdrawal symptom associated with ketamine detox is severe depression that can lead to suicidal urges. The combination of withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person, as will the severity of the symptoms experienced.


Ketamine addiction is a serious problem and if left untreated can lead to fatal consequences. After an individual has successfully completed the detox process it is essential to attend some form of formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. Addiction is a mental health condition that is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (abusing ketamine) without regard for the negative effects it has on all areas of one’s life. An individual that is addicted to ketamine has developed and reinforced damaging habits and harmful patterns. Those do not simply disappear when one stops abusing ketamine. The old patterns must be shed and new habits and patterns must be established, which require steadfast commitment. A formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program can provide an individual with the fundamental tools needed to continue on a path of recovery. 

There are inpatient treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs available. Inpatient treatment programs require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program, and outpatient programs allow an individual to work through the program while residing at home. Addiction treatment programs offer a variety of therapeutic modalities. Many offer various combinations of psychotherapeutic approaches, creative arts therapies, relaxation techniques (i.e. yoga, mindfulness practices, meditation…etc.), as well as encourage implementing healthy lifestyle changes (i.e. obtaining ample sleep, proper nutrition, regular exercise…etc.). Most individuals that attend an addiction treatment program will be provided with a customized treatment plan to ensure the nuanced needs that accompany each individual’s recovery process are sufficiently met. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.