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How To Know If You Are Suffering From a Ketamine Addiction & What To Do About It

October 2, 2021

Behavioral Signs That You Have an Addiction to Ketamine

Ketamine is a strong dissociative tranquilizer that has a significant following of those who use so-called “club drugs”. Even though it is technically classified as a hallucinogen, it produces strong dissociative effects in those who use it recreationally or due to chemical as well as psychological dependence.

Those who use ketamine recreationally or on any semi-regular basis will begin to develop a tolerance to the effects. This means that the body will not respond in the same way to the same dosages, the more often or the longer it is exposed to them. This leads to the user taking it more and more often, or taking larger and larger doses, to produce the same effect. There are not only behavioral signs but there are physical indications that someone may be living with a ketamine addiction. 

The physical indication may be visible while the individual is under the influence of ketamine, however, they may fade quickly once the drug is metabolized and no longer in the user’s system. If someone close to you is using ketamine, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of coordination, or seeming clumsy
  • Restless behavior and constant movement
  • Irritability or hostility due to difficulty regulating emotions
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, particularly insomnia
  • Nystagmus, or the rapid and uncontrollable movement of the eyes back and forth
  • Bouts of depression, or consistent depressive episodes
  • Unintelligible or slurring speech
  • Increased blood flow to the skin, resulting in redness

If you are close to the individual that may be battling ketamine addiction, you may notice other changes in them related to their behavior. These may be obvious or they may be adept at concealing the various signs from friends and family. The DSM indicates that ketamine use disorder lines up with several of the indicators for general substance use disorder. These signs will often include:

  • Problems with relationships due to the lack of emotional regulation and stability
  • Significant time spent trying to find and acquire the drug
  • Ignoring social, financial, and professional obligations and responsibilities in favor of using ketamine
  • Intense cravings for ketamine
  • Near-complete lack of control over the use of the drug
  • A desire to limit the use of the drug, but a demonstrated inability to do so

The psychological dependence of a ketamine addiction is often defined by a strong and almost constant desire or craving to experience the effects of the drug. The most prominent of these effects include an incredibly strong psychedelic high, generally accompanied by extremely vivid or intense hallucinations. In some situations, the user will be trying to experience the highly dissociative effects that are reported to feel like leaving your body. This is known as going into the “k hole”, or “k-holing” when it is achieved, and it is often a sign that the user has taken a significant dosage.

Though there is generally considered to be minimal harm from the occasional use of ketamine, there are users who live with a ketamine addiction and use larger quantities or much more often, which can lead to very large reductions in emotional and psychological stability, leading some users to display behaviors similar to schizophrenic patients and psychotics. 

What Do Withdrawal Symptoms From a Ketamine Addiction Look Like?

When it comes to ketamine withdrawals, the majority of the symptoms are psychological and physiological. The withdrawals are usually manageable, but it is not uncommon at all for the user to need to be isolated due to becoming emotionally unstable. This isolation is needed to protect themselves and others.

Some of the most common symptoms of ketamine withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Confusion
  • Decrease in respiratory and cardiac functions
  • Fatigue
  • Hearing loss
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis, sometimes with hallucinations and delusions
  • Rage
  • Shakes

The best way to get through detox is with the help of a trusted medical professional. Doctor supervision can ensure detox is done safely. The detoxification process begins anywhere from 24 to 72 hours following the last dose of ketamine. The length of time that detox takes will depend on how much is in the person’s system, as well as the tolerance level, other drugs taken, and how long they have been using.

Withdrawals last as little as 72 hours, but can last several weeks. Days 1-3 will be acute withdrawal symptoms. This can include:

  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing loss
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Rage
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shakes

It is possible to experience withdrawals for weeks, but by the 14 day mark, symptoms should begin to taper off. By the 15th day, most symptoms have stabilized. Unfortunately, any nerve damage caused by the ketamine addiction could be permanent. This can lead to long-term psychological issues.

Detox is the first step in the recovery process, as the drug is leaving the user’s system. The best approach to beating a ketamine addiction is by quitting cold turkey. Unfortunately, this will likely result in a very challenging detoxification process. The user will experience intense cravings along with the psychological discomfort that will follow.

How to Get Help for An Addiction to Ketamine

If you or someone you care about is living with a ketamine addiction, there is a strong possibility that friends and family have previously tried to intervene or help. What is crucial to understand, however, is that healing and recovery are not linear and that individuals that may need recovery help will always have options for treatment.

Even if the individual is not currently open to discussing their ketamine addiction, you can still reach out for professional help to potentially make the entire process easier for them. By working with experienced addiction specialists, the recovering individual will be able to overcome the detox and withdrawals in a safe and medically supervised environment. After that, they will be able to speak to counselors and learn how to manage their recovery going forward.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to ketamine, the time to get help is now. Reach out to a professional detox center to get on the path to a better tomorrow immediately.

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