The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies ketamine as a schedule III controlled substance, meaning it has the potential for mild-moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence. This means that users may rely on the drug emotionally or physically and therefore experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly discontinue use.
Addiction is different from dependence, although it typically involves dependence. Addiction is hallmarked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the repeated incurrence of adverse consequences. Addictive can develop concerning the use of any intoxicating or mind-altering drug, including ketamine.
More About Ketamine
Ketamine (commonly known on the street as special K) is a dissociative anesthetic with legitimate medical uses. Unfortunately, it is also frequently abused for its mind- and perception-altering effects. When used clinically, ketamine is typically administered intravenously to induce anesthesia. Illicitly, it can be found as a pill or powder that can be snorted or smoked or as a liquid that can be placed in a drink. It is believed to be most prevalent in nightclubs and touted as a party or “club drug.”
Ketamine can induce a variety of physical and psychoemotional effects on the user, including the following:
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Weakness and fainting
- Involuntary movements
- Impaired motor skills
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale or bluish lips and nails
- Rash or hives
- Blurry vision
- Difficult or frequent urination
- Convulsions and seizures
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Out of body experiences
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Altered perception
- Dreamlike states
- Agitation and restlessness
- Impaired concentration
- Impaired memory
In general, ketamine used for recreational purposes induces hallucinations, distorts perceptions of sight and sound and one’s environment, and makes the user feel disconnected and have a loss of control (also sometimes referred to as a “k-hole“).
A “Special K” trip is sometimes lauded as being better than that of LSD or PCP because its hallucinatory effects are relatively brief in duration, lasting approximately 30 to 60 minutes as opposed to several hours.
Risks of Using Ketamine
Using ketamine over time can lead to adverse long-term effects, including the following:
- Bladder ulcers
- Kidney problems
- Abdominal pain
- Attention dysfunction
- Memory loss
Ketamine also has a significant risk of overdose, especially when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Ketamine’s effects can make users vulnerable to injury or assault. Due to the drug’s potent dissociative properties, users may sustain severe injuries and not be aware of it. In addition, motor impairment caused by ketamine makes it challenging for a person to fight or defend themselves. For this reason, ketamine is sometimes utilized used as a date rape drug.
Ketamine for PTSD and Depression
Recently, ketamine has been a research subject as a potential treatment for the off-label (not approved by the FDA) treatment of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even alcohol dependence. For these purposes, it can be administered via infusion or nasal spray.
Some patients have found that ketamine relieves their depression or PTSD symptoms, especially suicidal thoughts. However, there is the risk of abuse with this drug. Still, recent research and practices suggests that ketamine may be an effective treatment for depression and PTSD.
How Is Ketamine Addiction Treated?
While no medications are approved to address ketamine addiction, the disorder is treated using medically supervised detox and long-term therapy and counseling. In addition, many individuals benefit from structured, individualized rehab programs, such as intensive outpatient treatment or a stay in a residential treatment center.
Highly skilled therapists and drug counselors work to alter their clients’ attitudes regarding drug use and replace unhealthy behaviors with more constructive and positive behaviors. They may use various evidence-based techniques to show individuals how to identify and challenge irrational thoughts and feelings, improve coping mechanisms, and prevent relapse.
It can be challenging to stop using substances on one’s own. However, having mental and medical health professionals to guide people through the process can make a huge impact. In addition, therapists and counselors can offer insights and clinically proven techniques and, most importantly, encourage individuals to remain motivated throughout their recovery journey.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment programs designed to treat the whole individual, including emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness. Therapeutic modalities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Substance abuse education
- 12-step group support
- Health and wellness education
- Mindfulness meditation
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events