Ketamine abuse is a growing concern among teens and young adults in the United States. Known by many as a popular club drug, ketamine is becoming increasingly commonplace among the electronic dance music (EDM) crowd. While ketamine has several legitimate applications in hospitals and veterinary settings, recreational use of the drug occurs largely for its ability to elicit a dissociated, out-of-body experience. A ketamine high can be very dangerous, and ketamine abuse can lead to serious long-term problems. Chronic, long-term ketamine use is associated with tolerance and psychological ketamine dependence.
This page will provide more insight into ketamine, if it’s addictive, its effects, signs of ketamine abuse, how ketamine addiction is treated, and whether you can use your insurance plan to obtain ketamine addiction treatment and ketamine rehab.
Is Ketamine Addictive?
In 2021, 7.4 million people (2.6%) aged 12 or older used hallucinogens, which include ketamine, in the past year. The highest percentage of people who abused hallucinogens were aged 18-25 (7.1%), with adults 26 and older following with 2.1%.9
Ketamine is a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III drugs are drugs that have a potential for abuse and dependence, but that potential for with physical and psychological dependence is low to moderate.3
However, the misuse and abuse of ketamine can be damaging and even potentially dangerous. Effects from ketamine abuse may also be experienced weeks after use. Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) may occur weeks after use and can involve the same negative side effects that may occur after initial use of the drug.2
Checking Your Insurance Benefits
If you are looking for LSD addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a dissociative drug that is used medically as an anesthetic in both humans and animals.1 Recreationally, people use it because it distorts perceptions and has some hallucinogenic properties. Ketamine can cause an out-of-body experience and can be very sedating, sometimes making users almost completely immobile. The drug promotes feelings of calmness and physical relaxation.1,2
Street names for ketamine include:2
- Special K.
- Kit Kat.
- Super K.
- Vitamin K.
- Cat Tranquilizer.
- Cat Valium.
- Jet K.
Illicit ketamine is typically encountered as a clear liquid or a white powder.2 Depending on the source and type, ketamine can come in a small vial, plastic bag, gel capsule, or folded into paper or tinfoil. For recreational use, ketamine may be snorted, injected, smoked, or swallowed.5
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction?
There are various signs and symptoms of ketamine addiction. Short-term effects of ketamine abuse may include:5
- Loss of memory.
- Raised blood pressure.
- Attention, learning, and memory problems.
- Dangerously slowed breathing.
Long-term effects of ketamine misuse may include:5
- Kidney problems.
- Stomach pain.
- Poor memory.
- Ulcers and bladder pain.
Ketamine may cause:2
- Cognitive difficulties.
Soon after taking ketamine, an individual may have increased blood pressure and heart rate. They may become unresponsive to stimuli and experience dilated pupils, involuntarily rapid eye movement, salivation, and stiffening of the muscles.2
Side Effects of Ketamine Abuse
The effects of ketamine on the brain and body are similar to some other dissociative and hallucinogenic drugs, such as phencyclidine (PCP). During a ketamine high, users have a distorted sense of perception that can alter sights and sounds. The strength and duration of the effects varies depending on the dose. Small doses produce euphoric sensations that last about an hour.4 Higher doses can lead to an intense, hallucinatory experience that users refer to as “K-land” or a “K-hole.”1,2
A K-hole is often described as a near-death experience that can be spiritual in nature. It is desirable to many users but may be associated with adverse physical effects such as respiratory depression, muscle twitches, dizziness, slurred speech, and vomiting. Other ketamine effects may include:1,2,4
- Impaired motor functioning.
- Increased heart rate.
- Loss of touch with reality.
- Loss of coordination.
- Muscle rigidity.
- Aggressive and violent behavior.
- Flashbacks that occur days or weeks after using the drug.
There is also an increased risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases from shared needles.5
A dangerous side effect of ketamine use is overdose. If an individual overdoses on ketamine, they may experience dangerously slowed breathing and unconsciousness.2 Additional symptoms of overdose may include:10
- Respiratory depression.
- Periods of stopped breathing.
- Slow heart rate.
- Cardiac arrest.
While there are no physical withdrawal symptoms with the use of ketamine, long-term use of ketamine has been linked to psychological dependence.10
Death from ketamine overdose is rare if the drug is taken alone. However, if it is combined with alcohol, death is more likely as both substances impact breathing and cardiovascular function.11
Ketamine Addiction Treatment
While it can be difficult to overcome an addiction to hallucinogens it can be effectively managed.6,7 There is not one type of facility or program that is suitable for everyone.6 Addiction treatment should address both your substance abuse and the various ways it has negatively impacted your life, including physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.6,7
There are various types of treatment options available to address the wide range of needs that people experience.8 Programs typically provide an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs. They often use a combination of different techniques to address your addiction and how it has affected you.8
These can include:6-8
- Detox from ketamine addiction can help the body clear the drug from the system. While physical withdrawal symptoms are unlikely, it is still necessary to rid the body of the drug as individuals begin working on their recovery. Additionally, medically supervised detox may be necessary for those who are detoxing from multiple substances, especially alcohol, as there are risks associated with those withdrawal symptoms.
- Residential treatment, where you live at a facility, and receive care and/or support around the clock. This is a structured setting with counseling, support, and a strong emphasis on peer and social interactions.
- Inpatient programming typically involves a shorter stay at a facility—often around 4 weeks —with around-the-clock monitoring and care, intense group therapy, and individual counseling.
- Outpatient treatment offers less intensive group and individual counseling while you live at home. This type of care allows you to work, attend school, and participate in daily life while learning how to adjust to stressors and receiving the support of peers and staff.
- Behavioral therapy in a group, individual, and/or family settings is highly effective for treating addiction to hallucinogens, dissociative drugs, and other substances. These techniques can help you learn how to stay sober, improve your relationships with others, cope with stress in healthy ways, and participate in positive activities.
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders, which addresses mental health disorders at the same time as a substance use disorder, is generally more effective than treating these issues separately. Therapy, medications, and other supportive services are commonly utilized in this type of treatment.
If you are seeking ketamine treatment in the United States, you have a wide array of options including private rehab facilities, state-run treatment facilities, and local treatment programs.
There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bond, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.
Where Can I Learn More about Treating Ketamine Addiction?
For more information about ketamine abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for ketamine abuse treatment.
There are various treatment programs and strategies available for ketamine addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs.