Josh Chandler | April 27, 2023

Ketamine Side Effects

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is an anesthetic drug developed to treat animals and relieve pain. Medical research and evidence have proven ketamine to be an effective pain reliever within the human medical field. In recent years, there have been clinical trials for ketamine to be used as a method to treat symptoms of depression. When used in microdoses, research has shown that it can be an alternative method for treating depression without posing a risk of developing a dependency on this substance. 

The psychoactive effects of ketamine have made it become a popular recreational drug for humans to abuse. Often referred to as a “club drug”, ketamine, otherwise known as Special K, Vitamin K, Kit Kat, Cat Valium, or Dorothy, has become a popular substance that is used for recreational purposes. Ketamine is characterized as a dissociative anesthetic that provides sedating effects and produces feelings of euphoria. Ketamine users often report having “out of body experiences” that detach them from their inner thoughts and the world around them. When you are under the influence of ketamine, people will often experience distortion of sights and sounds that make moving challenging. This often leaves people in a state of sedation otherwise known as a “K Hole”.

The impacts of using ketamine are a quick, short-lived high. This leads people to continue to use more and more to reach the same desired effects. Ketamine users are known to be at higher risk of developing an addiction to ketamine as users continue to chase the same intensity of the first high they experienced. 

Ketamine is commonly sold as a street drug. It can be sold in liquid form, injected, or in a white powder form. Powder forms of ketamine can be snorted or compacted into a capsule or tablet format that can be ingested or dissolved into water or other beverages. Each person will experience varying levels of impact from the use of ketamine. Due to the unpredictability of this substance, it can be challenging for a person to determine how much is too much when taking ketamine which increases the risks of experiencing an overdose or becoming susceptible to an addiction to ketamine. 

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Why Is Abuse of Ketamine on the Rise?

side effects ketamine

Ketamine abuse has consistently been rising over the last couple of decades. Although the use of ketamine as a club drug has been around since the 1990s, as of 2019, the use of ketamine increased by 81%. Law enforcement seizures of ketamine have dramatically increased and reached the peak number of seizures in 2019. While ketamine has become more widely spoken about in the media for the medical properties and benefits it can have in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, the use of this drug for recreational purposes still exists. It is important to note that although recreational ketamine use has increased,  ketamine is by no means the most predominant drug being abused on the illicit drug market. The number of people abusing ketamine remains relatively low compared to other illicit substances. 

20 Short-Term Ketamine Side Effects

Ketamine is a fast-acting drug that produces a high that lasts for up to 15 minutes. As you continue to use ketamine, you may experience physical and mental side effects that can include some or all of the following: 

  1. Nausea 
  2. Vomiting 
  3. The inability to move or walk often causes someone to stay in the same spot for prolonged periods 
  4. Dizziness 
  5. Confusion 
  6. Poor muscle coordination 
  7. Clumsiness 
  8. Slow, altered breathing rates that can be dangerously low 
  9. Difficulty speaking or having slurred speech 
  10. The sensation of feeling the lightness 
  11. Feeling disconnected from your body 
  12. High blood pressure 
  13. Elevated heart rate 
  14. Muscle stiffening 
  15. Lack of attention or focus 
  16. Loss of memory 
  17. Anxiety or feeling uneasy 
  18. Paranoia 
  19. Lower urinary tract issues 
  20. Hallucinations 

15 Long-Term Ketamine Side Effects

After engaging in long-term ketamine use, there is an increased risk of experiencing long-term, severe side effects that impact both your physical and psychological health. Depending on the severity of your ketamine addiction, there is potential for you to experience life-threatening side effects that need to be treated and monitored by experienced medical professionals. Long-term side effects of ketamine abuse can include mild long-term impacts to severe, long-lasting effects that can influence your quality of life. 

  1. Changes in vision including experiencing anomalies that change your ability to see during day-to-day tasks 
  2. Long-term use of ketamine can cause damage to your kidneys and liver. As your body works to process this harmful substance, it strains the functioning of your kidneys and livers which impact your overall physical health and daily functioning. This can lead to problems with digestive functioning.
  3. Heavy ketamine use is known to cause your bladder to become inflamed leading to urinary tract issues. As urinary tract concerns persist, ketamine users are at an increased risk of developing ulcerative cystitis which results in severe pelvic pain and ulcers. 
  4. Changes in heart rate including rapid heart rate or heart palpitations 
  5. Reduced kidney functioning 
  6. High blood pressure rates 
  7. Respiratory concerns and complications 
  8. Chronic stomach pain 
  9. Seizures 
  10. Significant changes in mood 
  11. The decline in cognitive functioning 
  12. Difficulty with memory or memory loss 
  13. Problems with short memory 
  14. Visual memory impacted 
  15. Depression 

If you are using ketamine and mixing it with other substances including alcohol or other drugs, you’re at an increased risk of developing serious life-threatening side effects of: 

  • Shallow or slow breathing 
  • Coma 
  • Stupor 
  • Heart attack 
  • Decreased heart rate 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Seizure 

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Due to the varying impacts of ketamine on substance users, it can be hard to gauge how much a person should take. As a person’s tolerance increases for ketamine, the more someone is at risk of abusing higher levels of ketamine. As your use of ketamine increases and becomes frequent, the more at risk you are of becoming dependent on ketamine. If you’ve become reliant on ketamine, it can be hard to stop your use of ketamine on your own as you continually have the urge and compulsion to continue using it to chase the original feeling you once got when you initially used ketamine. 

Due to the physical and emotional impacts of ketamine, to effectively overcome your ketamine use, you must have assistance from experienced medical professionals and addiction therapists. An addiction treatment program provides you with the appropriate levels of care to safely remove the harmful impacts of ketamine and store your body and mind from the impacts of ketamine use. 

Overcome Ketamine Side Effects with Help from Muse Treatment

At Muse Treatment Centers, we offer our patients a full continuum of care that allows them to safely overcome their addiction to ketamine and relieve any physical or psychological dependency that has developed. Patients are invited to participate in medically supervised detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment programs, sober living programs, and aftercare programming that fosters long-term success in addiction recovery. No matter what phase you begin your recovery program in, you’ll be provided with an individualized treatment plan that includes medical treatments, evidence-based therapy methods, and holistic therapeutic methods that support you in healing from the impacts of addiction within your body, mind, and spirit. Our team will be with you every step of the way as you create a new foundation in life that is centered around healing, personal growth, and recovery. Call our admission team at Muse at 800-426-1818 to have any questions answered and begin your healing journey today. 

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Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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