Ketamine is a drug, like PCP, that is classified as a dissociative. Dissociatives are a type of hallucinogen that cause a state of detachment from reality, one’s environment and self identity. It is used medically at times in a hospital setting as an anesthetic as well as for veterinary anesthesia. It is abused as a designer drug for the trance-like euphoric feelings it can induce. Regular and repetitive use can quickly lead to a psychological dependence.
While most drugs referred to as psychedelics, such as ketamine, aren’t typically considered to be addictive substances, ketamine in particular, is known to lead to a fully developed psychological dependence in many cases. Professional treatment may be required to address such an addiction to ketamine once it becomes significant and problematic.
High doses or overdoses of ketamine cause intense visual and auditory hallucinations and a substantial loss of control over one’s body. It can cause respiratory failure at this level, increased heart rate and coma. Users refer to the high dosage effects like the hallucinations, distortions and a sense of an out of body experience as being, “lost in a K-hole.”
As with any addiction to any substance a preoccupation with ketamine will occur. Obsessing, using and arranging to obtain more of the drug will consume the forefront of the addict’s mind. A tolerance to low doses of ketamine will develop in regular, repetitive users. Therefore, they will take higher doses that approach and arrive at the anesthetic level. At this point intoxication will be apparent and obvious. It will be characterized by drowsiness, incoherent speech and lack of coordination. Unusual sleeping patterns are a common concern. A ketamine addict may be awake for prolonged periods of time using ketamine and then they may sleep for days. Eventually paranoia will become a symptom. Some may become extremely anxious. They may express irrational fear of misconceived danger. They may be perceived to be talking to themselves or seeing things that aren’t there.
Like other abused drugs, ketamine will have a cumulative effect on the brain over time. The sooner that steps are taken to overcome an addiction to ketamine the better. Long term effects may lead to permanent psychosis and a reduced ability to function properly in daily life. As with treating other psychological addictions, treating an addiction to ketamine will primarily involve counseling and therapy geared towards understanding the cause of an individual’s drug use and drug seeking behavior. Once such factors are understood, awareness and a willingness towards psychological therapeutic work can be paramount in treating a ketamine addiction. Seeking help is the first step on a path to reclaiming one’s life. Recovery is real and it’s possible.