How Long Does Ketamine Stay In Your System?

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Ketamine is a prescription drug, intended to be administered only by medical professionals. Ketamine has been used since it was approved by the FDA in 1970, primarily as an anesthetic. Ketamine is very similar to the drug PCP. Ketamine has a lower risk of negative side effects when compared to many other anesthetics, and it has pain-relieving effects. Ketamine has also been studied for its antidepressant effects. Ketamine is used to put patients to sleep before surgery and also to prevent discomfort before certain procedures. In hospital and clinical settings, ketamine is usually given intravenously. It’s important that when someone is given ketamine, their vital signs including respiration, heart rate and blood pressure are carefully monitored.

Ketamine How Long Does It Stay In Your System?

It’s illegal to possess or use ketamine outside of medical purposes, yet it is diverted and misused recreationally. Ketamine can produce euphoria, dissociation, out-of-body experiences and hallucinations. As a result, it’s misused as a party or rave drug in some cases. Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act. A schedule III drug is one that has a potential for physical and psychological dependence. Other Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Ketamine is very similar to PCP. Both drugs are hallucinogenic. Drugs described as a hallucinogenic are very diverse in their specific effects, but they all change perception, thoughts and feelings of those who take it. When someone uses a hallucinogenic, they may see and feel things they think are real, even though they aren’t. Like ketamine, PCP was once used as an anesthetic, but it’s not used for medical purposes anymore because of the risks. DXM is a cough suppressant that can be available over-the-counter but can have hallucinogenic effects. Salvia is a hallucinogen that comes from Mexico and Central and South America and has similar properties. It’s believed that hallucinogens work by changing communication between brain chemicals. Many hallucinogens also affect the brain chemical serotonin, which is responsible for regulating everything from mood and sensory perception, to sexual behavior.

When someone uses a dissociative drug like ketamine, it changes their brain chemistry. In particular, ketamine affects something called glutamate. Glutamate plays a role in learning, memory, emotions and the perception of pain. Ketamine also changes dopamine levels, which is why people feel a euphoric rush with this drug. In the short-term, when someone uses ketamine, they will often feel like they’re floating and detached from their body. Other effects of Ketamine on the brain and body can include anxiety, the feeling of being near death, impaired motor function and numbness. It’s really difficult to determine what effects ketamine will have on the brain and body specifically because every person’s experience is different. Generally, at lower doses, ketamine effects include numbness, disorientation, changes in sensory perception, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and respiration. At higher doses, ketamine effects can include memory loss, physical and psychological distress, paranoia, anxiety, panic and fear.

The half-life of ketamine is around 2.5 to 3 hours in adults. This means in a healthy adult, the average elimination time for ketamine is between 13 hours and 45 minutes, to 16 hours and 30 minutes. These are averages, so everyone is going to be a little different regarding how long it takes their body to eliminate ketamine. Ketamine does have metabolites that form as the body is processing it, but these have a shorter elimination half-life than the parent drug of ketamine. For most people, within 24 hours of the last dose of ketamine, the majority is out of the body. Within a few days, all of the ketamine should be out of the system of the person taking it.

While eliminating ketamine takes most people’s bodies anywhere from 11 to 17 hours on average, there are individual factors that play a role. For example, age, body mass, genetics, hepatic function and overall health all play a role in how long ketamine stays in your system. Ketamine is likely to leave the system of a young, healthy person more quickly than an elderly person as an example. Most ketamine is excreted in urine, so someone who is hydrated may get rid of the drug more quickly than someone who isn’t well-hydrated. Metabolic rate is important as well. The faster someone’s metabolism, the more quickly they’re going to eliminate certain drugs. The higher the dose someone uses of ketamine, the longer it will take the system to eliminate the drug, and how often someone uses ketamine can be relevant.

While ketamine clears the system of people who take it within one to three days, it can show up on drug tests for longer, depending on whether or not metabolites are left behind. A standard drug screening panel won’t detect ketamine, but specialized tests can. It’s possible to detect ketamine in a urine drug test for up to 14 days after someone uses it. There has even been some research showing it can appear in a urine test for more than 30 days after someone uses it. Hair tests can show ketamine use for months after someone’s last dose. A blood test usually only shows ketamine for up to 24 hours after someone last used it.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.