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What is Ketamine?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

There are a lot of drugs out there. Some of them aren’t as well known as others. One drug that sometimes flies under the radar is ketamine. Ketamine is a depressant that also produces psychedelic effects. It became popular in the club scene in the ’80s, and some people still use it to get high.

While ketamine does have legitimate medical uses, people who take it recreationally can get addicted, causing serious physical and social problems. Luckily, there are solutions. Granite Recovery Centers’ evidence-based substance use treatment program is designed to address the underlying reasons for an individual’s addiction, and to show them how they can live a sober and happy life.

 

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is labeled as a dissociative anesthetic. This means that it leads to dissociative feelings, or feeling detached from reality. These feelings can even be euphoric. As an anesthetic, it also slows the body down and causes feelings of calm and relaxation. It can even make people fall asleep.

Other names for ketamine include:

  • Special K
  • K
  • Vitamin K
  • Keller
  • Green
  • Kit Kat

Ketamine comes in liquid form and can be injected. However, the liquid can be turned into tablet form or powder form. In a tablet, people take it like any other pill. People can snort it in powder form. The drug is odorless and tasteless, making it commonly used as a date rape drug.

Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance. This means that ketamine can potentially cause physical dependence and will likely cause psychological dependence. People in possession of ketamine must have a valid prescription in their name. It is illegal to operate vehicles or heavy machinery while under the influence of ketamine.

 

Uses of Ketamine

While an addictive substance, ketamine is useful when used responsibly, such as in veterinary medicine. Vets and other people who work with animals can use it to keep sedate or put animals to sleep, and keep them under control during potentially dangerous interactions. This can also work effectively for children in extreme situations. It was even used on the battlefields of the Vietnam War to help injured soldiers.

Secondly, ketamine can offer relief for people who suffer from severe depression. While still in the new stages of research, many scientists are using it in cases where antidepressants don’t work. With the dangers of ketamine, only the most severe cases of depression will receive ketamine as treatment.

 

Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine use makes people feel good and at ease. The user may also have an out-of-body experience. While in this detached state, the user may not exhibit full control of their actions. This experience from ketamine is known as “going down the k-hole.” While high, a person will have high blood pressure, a high heart rate, muscle stiffness, and paranoia.

While “in the k-hole,” the out-of-body experience can make someone feel good for a couple of hours. However, the experience will end and lead to a period of “coming down.” During this period, someone may feel anger or sadness as well as panic and paranoia. The effects can last over 24 hours.

Habitual ketamine use can lead to serious problems. For example, you can end up getting arrested for driving while high on ketamine, or for unlawful possession. These things can affect your career, your relationships, and your life.

Ketamine can also wreak havoc on the body. Some of the extreme effects it can bring on include:

  • Chest pain
  • Impaired vision
  • Respiratory problems
  • Frequent urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Confusion
  • Swallowing
  • Sweating

Repeated use can lead to problems with motor functions, breathing, memory, and blood pressure. Many people also get flashbacks from going “down the k-hole” that lead to prolonged anxiety and depression that may require professional treatment. Of course, misusing ketamine can also lead to a substance use disorder that will require treatment. In some cases, if the disorder is not treated, it could be fatal.

 

People Who Misuse Ketamine

Anyone can become addicted to ketamine. However, it can be helpful to know the statistics. Globally, 2.3 million people have tried ketamine. Most people who use the drug are young. In fact, 74% of people who admitted to using the drug in a federal study were 24 years of age or younger.

While we can’t be sure what draws people to this particular drug, certain people tend to fall into ketamine substance use disorder quicker and more severely than others. Some of the risk factors that indicate you can be at risk for substance abuse disorder include:

  • Mental Illness: Mental illness can make someone want to abuse drugs in order to numb the pain or create a feeling of joy that they don’t feel anymore naturally. People with mental health problems need psychological attention. Getting to the bottom of the mental health disorder will create longer-lasting sobriety. When someone comes to therapy for both substance abuse and mental illness, it is known as a dual-diagnosis treatment. We have helped numerous patients with co-occurring disorders get help at Granite Recovery Centers.
  • Family Substance Abuse: Studies have shown that addictive personality traits can pass down to the next generation. Anyone with parents who experienced addiction should be particularly careful about their own substance use. If you have substance use disorders in your family, tell your doctor.
  • Regular Ketamine Use: People who use ketamine on a regular basis may develop a tolerance, which means that the person will require more ketamine in order to experience the same effects. This means people who receive ketamine regularly, whether for depression or anesthesiology, may start to take more and more to the point where it becomes dangerous.

 

Signs of Ketamine Misuse

Whether you use ketamine recreationally or you get it prescribed, it’s important to recognize the signs of substance misuse. Knowing the signs can encourage you to get help before the problem gets worse. Here are some of the signs of ketamine use disorder.

  • Needing More: It’s a bad sign when you constantly need more and more ketamine to achieve the same feeling. When you develop this tolerance, it will lead to more spending and more damage to the body. It also becomes a habit to constantly increase the amount used over and over again, and it may even increase the frequency as well.
  • Obsession: Are you constantly thinking about your next hit? Do you plan your day around drugs? This obsession indicates that your body craves the drug in an unhealthy way that can lead to poor judgment.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Every adult has certain responsibilities to themselves, their families, their career, and their community. If you misuse ketamine, it can interfere with your ability to handle your responsibilities. You may sleep through work or neglect your child while watching them. When this happens, you need to get help right away so that you don’t lose the privileges that come with those responsibilities.
  • Legal Trouble: Legal trouble can create serious problems in both your career and personal aspirations. You may jeopardize your job or the custody of your children. Plus, legal expenses add up quickly, prohibiting you from using the money on other things.

If you do find yourself in legal trouble because of ketamine use, treatment can help. The judge and everyone else in your life will see how serious you are about getting help, and entering treatment can often lead to a reduced sentence, should it come to that.

 

Treatment for Ketamine Use Disorder

If you see certain things that indicate that you need help, you have options. Here are some common ketamine substance use disorder treatments that may help you eliminate the habit for good.

  • Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment is the most intensive treatment available. Patients will stay on-site at a rehabilitation center where they will have no access to drugs or alcohol, preventing relapse. While at the treatment center, the residents participate in individual and group therapy. Medical staff can prescribe medication for mental illness and monitor patients to ensure safe withdrawal. They will also take drug tests to ensure that everyone is staying clean. There are strict rules in place about communication with friends and family as well as off-site ventures.
    At Granite Recovery Centers, we make residents as comfortable as possible in our state-of-the-art inpatient treatment centers in New England. To make the adjustment to treatment easier, every new client gets paired with a senior client for support.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment is not quite as intense as inpatient treatment since the patients get the opportunity to sleep in their own beds. People in treatment will spend four to eight hours a day in treatment and go home when treatment is over. People will get drug tested. Many patients can spend time with family or even work when they’re not at the center.
    At Granite Recovery Centers, intensive outpatient treatment options allow patients to get treatment while staying current on important responsibilities, and it’s amazing how far people can come when their family is behind them. Treatment involves drug testing and therapy.
  • 12-Step Program: Tried-and-true, 12-step programs offer a structured treatment program for people while still allowing them to go about their other daily tasks. Meetings take place at a number of different times in almost every city in the country, so you can go when it works best for you. During the meetings, a counselor will lead the group. People will talk about their successes and failures on their journey to sobriety, and many people who are just getting clean find a mentor in a 12-step program.
  • Sober Living: Some people want to live a normal life, but they also want the structure of a sober environment. Sober living allows people to live with sober roommates and have support around them. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer sober living solutions that can keep people in a stable environment to ensure that they stay on track when it comes to their sobriety.
  • Talk Therapy: Many people benefit from talk therapy. Therapy can be one-on-one with a psychologist or with a counselor in a group setting. During the therapy sessions, you will get the opportunity to talk about your feelings and your experiences. Just expressing yourself can lead to progress. Also, the therapist can provide input and suggestions on how to reach some of your personal goals. In group therapy, you can find people with similar experiences. These people can provide support to you during weak moments and act as an example of how to have a happy life after treatment.

 

Granite Recovery Centers

Granite Recovery Centers offers substance use treatment services in New England. We not only treat the substance use disorder, but we also treat the person as a whole. By getting to the root of the problem, we provide long-lasting results that make people walk out happier and healthier.

You can beat your ketamine substance use disorder with hard work and help from the right treatment center. Call Granite Recovery Centers to get help for your ketamine use today.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.