Ketamine Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Special K, Super K, K2, K, Jet K, Kit Kat, Vitamin K, and cat tranquilizer, and cat Valium. While these names might be cute or funny, the drug it represents is anything but. That drug is ketamine.

Ketamine is a synthetic (man-made) drug that can be very dangerous because it has dissociative properties. That means it can make you feel as if your mind is dissociated or disconnected from your body. It can give you memory problems and doesn’t have a smell or a taste. Because of those properties, sexual predators sometimes add ketamine to victims’ drinks in order to make them more vulnerable to assault.

Since ketamine allows people to disassociate themselves from bodily sensations like pain, doctors use the drug as an general anesthetic for surgery. Veterinarians have used the drug for the same purpose, leading to cat-related nicknames such as Kit Kat, cat tranquilizer, and cat Valium. (Other names for illegal forms of the drug include Special LA Coke, Green, Purple, Mauve, and Super C.) Researchers are also conducting studies to determine whether ketamine could be used as an antidepressant to treat bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.

The drug comes in different forms. Doctors and veterinarians use injectable liquid forms of ketamine known as Ketalar, Ketaset, and Ketaject. Illegal users also snort or smoke the drug in its powdered form. Because ketamine can cause people to abuse themselves and others, it is important to recognize the dangers of the drug and how ketamine abuse can be treated.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 203,000 people aged twelve and over used ketamine in 2006. The amount of people twelve and over who used ketamine at least once in their lives is an even higher number: 2,277,000.

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Ketamine Addiction and Abuse

Ketamine is classified as a dissociative drug. Other drugs in this class include PCP. These drugs create a disconnected feeling between your head your body. Yet ketamine also has hallucinogenic properties. Like other drugs with hallucinogenic properties, ketamine can and is combined with other drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), amphetamines, and methamphetamine (meth). This kind of combination makes a dangerous drug even more dangerous.

Ketamine is popularly known as a club drug or a party drug due to its use at parties, nightclubs, and raves. Since ketamine can produce hallucinations, people abuse the drug at those places to alter their realities and change the way they feel and sense things. Sometimes these changes can even make a person feel more calm and relaxed due to the drug’s dissociative properties.

The drug affects the body by affecting the activity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter (chemical) in the brain. Glutamate affects our emotions, how we feel pain, and how we learn and form memories. This means that ketamine abuse can actually alter the chemistry of a person’s brain. People abusing the drug could feel its absence when they stop taking it because the drugs are no longer there to stimulate their brains’ chemicals in the same way. An addiction occurs when the body physically needs the stimulation that ketamine provides.

Ketamine Signs and Symptoms

It’s clear that ketamine users use the drug to produce particular effects. Unfortunately, they also often experience side effects that they didn’t anticipate.

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Short-term and Long-term Effects of Ketamine

Using ketamine can produce a number of short-term and long-term effects. These effects can depend on the amount of ketamine you take at one time.

In lower doses, the drug can make you feel detached from things, change the way you see you see yourself and other things, make you hallucinate for about thirty to sixty minutes, and make you nauseous.

In higher doses, ketamine can produce hallucinations as well as memory loss. Psychologically, the drug could produce symptoms of psychological distress by making you feel panicky, anxiety, and paranoid. It can make you aggressive and feel as if you’re extremely strong and nothing can hurt you.

There are even different names for different types of ketamine experiences:

  • Baby food means users feel happy and like babies during their ketamine usage.
  • K land is a colorful ketamine experience where users feel mellow.
  • God experiences are incidents where ketamine users feel that they’ve met God.
  • K hole is an experience where users feel as if they’ve left their bodies and are close to death.

In addition, your muscles might stiffen, your pupils might dilate, and you might experience rapid eye movement if you take ketamine. You might have trouble remembering things, speaking, or moving. Some researchers have found that ketamine use can also produce kidney problems as well as ulcers in the bladder.

Even after your usage, ketamine can cause other effects by creating flashbacks. This means you can relive your ketamine experiences hours or weeks after actually using the drug.

Overdose Symptoms of Ketamine

Because ketamine affects your brain chemistry, it can severely affect your mood. Overdose can cause extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic, depression, or suicidal thoughts, which can make you hurt yourself and others.

It can also do great damage to your body by elevating your heart rate and blood pressure. Other dangerous symptoms include a slowed rate of breathing and even unconsciousness and death.

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Ketamine Withdrawal and Detox

Because of all those nasty side effects, it’s important to remove ketamine from the body. That’s why you should go through detox if you suffer from abuse or addiction.

Detox, or detoxification, is a process that removes the physical traces of ketamine or other substances from your body. It requires the use of medical professionals to make sure that your body is physically healthy. It often uses mental health professionals to help you cope emotionally with your drug use and the changes in your body. That’s why it’s important to find the right detox program or detox center within an inpatient rehab center. This center can help mobilize its professionals to get you the medical and psychological help you need.

Ketamine Treatment and Rehab

Locating a rehabilitation facility or other professional help for your ketamine addiction can seem overwhelming at first, but it is possible. You might want to start with the professionals you already know. Different doctors, therapists, school counselors, and lawyers have probably encountered people struggling with substance abuse issues.

If you and your friends are part of a social circle that takes the drug, you probably know others with ketamine problems. Have these people had professional help? If so, maybe you can ask them about their treatment experiences.

Finally, you can use the Internet to research treatment options. During your online search, you could look for an agency that can refer you to different rehab centers for drug addiction. This might be an especially good option if you are looking for a specialized type of rehab center. For example, if you’re a teenager, you might prefer to stay at a center that only treats young people.

  • Step 1: Intake

    When you arrive at your facility you will be assessed by the medical professionals to determine your treatment through detox, as well as your rehabilitation program.

  • Step 2: Detox

    After your assessment or intake you will be taken to your room where you can rest and be monitored while you go through the withdrawal of your drug use. Detox can range from 1 day to a week, depending on the drug of choice and the user.

  • Step 3: Rehab

    After you finish detox you will be ready to begin your addiction treatment, which can range from a variety of different options. This is when you will be able to meet others, attend lectures, participate in group or individual counseling, and learn the tools you need to stay clean.

  • Step 4: Aftercare

    When your time at the facility is over, you will have to go back to your life. This can be a challenge for a lot of people, but part of your treatment includes aftercare. This is usually outpatient counseling in a group or individualized setting, where you are slowly introduced back to your life and responsibilities.

The steps to recovery are tough, it is difficult and scary but also exciting. By going to treatment you are giving yourself a second chance at life, and allowing yourself to be free from your addiction.

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Recognizing and Addressing the Signs of Ketamine Addiction

  • “I just do Special K when I’m at the club.”
  • “I only take drugs socially on the weekends.”

If you are saying those type of things, you might be trying to justify your ketamine use. But if the drug is making you anxious, if it made you hallucinate nightmarish thoughts, or if it caused you to black out, you might have a problem.

Coming to Terms with Your Ketamine Addiction

Recognizing that you are abusing or addicted to ketamine is an important discovery. You can’t just take the drug at clubs or on the weekends. You realize that can’t take it ever because of all the problems it has caused. When you recognize that you have a problem, you can start to figure out how to treat it.

Helping a Friend or Family Member Address Their Ketamine Addiction

Other people, too, might be in denial about their ketamine use. That’s why it can useful to stage an intervention. During this meeting, friends and family members could tell the ketamine user how the person’s drug use has been harmful. They should give specific examples, such as, “When you used ketamine and blacked out, you could’ve really hurt yourself. You also really scared us because you put yourself in so much danger.”

Discussing specific examples can show users how their drug use not only hurts themselves, but others as well. These interventions should be conducted when the ketamine users are not using drugs. This way, everyone at the meeting can clearly assess the situation without the disconnection or emotional changes caused by such a mind-altering dissociative drug.


  • Let them know you are aware of their problem
  • Let them know that you care, and want to help
  • Tell them that there are treatment options for them
  • Tell them that you love them and will be there


  • Bring this up when they are under the influence
  • Make them feel like they are failures
  • Let them convince you they don’t need treatments
  • Bring up too many hurtful reminders of their addiction at once

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The Bottom Line: You Can Beat Ketamine Addiction

If you’ve reached this point it is hard to deny the fact that you’re serious about beating your ketamine addiction, and that is something to have pride in. Your life matters and there is no reason why you should allow a drug to dictate the rest of your life when help is available. Remember, choosing to go into a rehab treatment center for drug abuse will help you rid yourself of the horrible side effects you’ve had to endure, extend your life span, and most importantly place you on track towards regaining you own life. So don’t fight addiction alone. Instead allow us to help you live the life you deserve to have.

Payment Options for Ketamine Abuse Treatment

If you are one of those people who uses ketamine, you can find help. It is important to get this help from others. Enlist your family members, friends, and medical and mental health professionals.

To find more specific help for your ketamine abuse or addiction, your options include getting therapy, attending outpatient rehab centers and other treatment programs, or entering an inpatient rehab facility. This help doesn’t have to be expensive. Since addiction is a medical condition, many medical insurers will cover some of the costs of inpatient treatment, some centers create a payment plan that will get you the treatment that you need and deserve.

Call us today and let us help you get on the road to recovery!