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Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine is an anesthetic, mostly used on animals. It is a dissociative anesthetic that creates a feeling of detachment that is sometimes euphoric and sometimes a bit scary. A high enough dose will cause a dissociative state–a “k-hole”–similar to an out-of-body or near-death experience.

Ketamine is most often abused as a party drug. It’s short-acting and declines after about an hour. Ketamine also enhances the effect of other drugs, which is dangerous because it can compound the effects of alcohol or opioids.

Ketamine is sometimes used to self-medicate for depression. It has, in fact been used recently in emergency situations to treat patients with suicidal thoughts. After the acute episode has passed, the patient can start regular medication or therapy. Ketamine is only used in an emergency and is not meant to be used as a regular medication for depression, as prolonged use is bad for your body.

Signs of ketamine addiction include frequent distraction or drowsiness, insensitivity to pain, slurred speech, lack of coordination, inability to concentrate, bladder pain, or incontinence. Long-term abuse of ketamine can damage your body in a variety of ways. It can cause severe abdominal pains as well as damage to the kidneys and urinary tract, leading to incontinence. There is also a danger that, because of reduced sensitivity to pain, you may injure yourself, not notice, and continue making the injury worse. Leaving injuries untreated, depending on the severity, may lead to infections or other problems.

Ketamine is not as addictive as alcohol or opioids but prolonged use can result in tolerance and dependence resulting in withdrawal when you stop using. Ketamine withdrawal is not usually dangerous but cravings can last for months after detox. The symptoms of ketamine withdrawal are similar to mild to moderate symptoms of other drug withdrawal and may include loss of appetite, sweating, fatigue, anxiety, depression, tremors, chills, irregular or elevated heart rate, or nightmares. The biggest risk of ketamine withdrawal is suicidal thoughts. Ketamine abuse is often an effort to treat depression and that depression is likely to return after quitting.

Fortunately, unless you work in a veterinary clinic, you are not likely to be tempted to relapse into ketamine use. It is not widespread and relatively few people have ever tried it. Ketamine is still mainly a party drug and if you want to stay clean, it’s best to avoid parties where it might be available.


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