Ketamine Addiction and Abuse

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Ketamine is the generic name for the drug Ketalar, a medication primarily used for anesthesia. It can also act as a pain reliever. Ketamine is sold under other brand names, such as Ketanest, Ketaset, Tekam, among others. People who use ketamine experience a trance-like state, along with sedation. Ketamine does have certain medical benefits, but it can also be addictive and have serious side effects as well.
cocaine in lines

Ketamine was first used during the Vietnam War as an anesthetic. Ketamine is primarily used for the same purpose today, but it is currently being assessed for other uses. Since ketamine can provide pain relief, it is helpful for patients following surgery or to treat healing burns. Ketamine is increasingly used as a way to avoid the use of opioids, such as morphine. Another way doctors and researchers are prescribing ketamine is as a depression treatment option. The drug may be useful for people with severe depression, for people who are suicidal, and escpecially for those with treatment-resistant depression. While ketamine is not currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this use, research is currently taking place. Some studies have shown that ketamine can reduce symptoms of severe depression in just a few hours.

Ketamine is believed to be unique from approved antidepressants because, rather than taking weeks to start working, it can take effect immediately. The theory behind this observation is that ketamine triggers the regrowth of certain brain connections that play a significant role in mood. Ketamine is described as acting like a “flash mob” on the brain, according to WebMD, because it takes over a certain chemical receptor. This may lead to memory loss. Despite the advancements that are being made to treat severely depressed patients with ketamine, the drug will likely only be administered in supervised settings due to its potency and side effects. Currently, ketamine is only approved for use in hospitals and medical settings.

While ketamine does offer some therapeutic value, there is a risk for abuse and addiction. When people use ketamine in high doses, they may experience euphoric effects and even out-of-body experiences. With ketamine abuse, people tend to feel as if they are nearly unconscious. Ketamine can be classified as a hallucinogen, a tranquilizer, and it also has dissociative effects. Ketamine is considered to be a club drug when used recreationally, and is used as a date-rape drug as well.

Ketamine abuse can not only cause a loss of consciousness but also create the feeling of being detached from one’s surroundings. People using ketamine can feel like they’re floating outside their own body, an effect commonly described as the “k-hole.”  Other effects of ketamine abuse can include changes in perception, troubling thinking, nausea, changes in eyesight, uncontrollable eye movements and muscle stiffness. Symptoms can also include slurred speech, slow heartbeat, changes in behavior, amnesia and pressure in the eyes and brain. When ketamine is used in medical settings, it is often combined with other drugs in order to prevent hallucinations.

Street names for ketamine can include KitKat, Cat Valium, Vitamin K, Special K, and Ket, among others. People who abuse ketamine take it in the form of a pill, mix it with another substance, such as marijuana and smoke it, cook it to form a white powder that can be snorted, or make a liquid form that can be ingested orally. The effects of ketamine abuse become apparent within a few minutes and usually start to wear off within an hour. When someone takes very high doses of ketamine, they may be unable to move or communicate. Some people find this to be a desirable effect, while others consider it to be a frightening, adverse side effect. People who abuse ketamine may also experience psychosis, high blood pressure, breathing problems and seizures. There is an additional risk for someone who is abusing ketamine to hurt themselves or others since they are separated from reality and unaware of their surroundings.

In addition to these short-term adverse side effects, there are long-term risks associated with ketamine abuse as well. The long-term effects of ketamine abuse may include mental disorders and psychological problems. Abusing ketamine can increase the risk of developing depression, kidney and bladder problems, and permanent memory loss.

When ketamine is used in combination with another substance it can cause fatal toxicity. If ketamine is combined with a central nervous depressant, like alcohol, it can cause sedation that results in death. There is a high risk for overdosing on ketamine because it takes a significant amount of the drug to produce the effects that people abusing the drug desire.

cocaine drug interaction
Aside from all of the short and long-term risks, is ketamine addictive? The answer is yes. Ketamine is an addictive drug and classified as a Class III controlled substance in the United States. The degree of how addictive ketamine is varies by each individual and the extent of their use. For the most part, ketamine is considered to be very addictive. People who abuse ketamine can not only become psychologically addicted to the drug, but also physically dependent upon it. When a person is physically dependent upon ketamine and tries to stop using it, they can experience serious side effects. Side effects of ketamine withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia, depression and flashbacks.

Ketamine abuse is a serious and dangerous problem. Ketamine has been a recreationally abused drug since the 1980s, especially in the club scene. High doses of ketamine are required to achieve the effects people are seeking, making a potentially fatal overdose likely. Ketamine can also lead to addiction and physical dependence.

If you or a loved one is struggling with ketamine abuse or ketamine addiction, resources are available. The Recovery Village can provide you with answers and the specialized care you or your loved one need to overcome ketamine abuse.


Ketamine Addiction
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