A woman suffering from ketamine abuse.

Ketamine Abuse: Warning Signs and Withdrawal Symptoms

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Ketamine abuse is a dangerous realm to get into. Those stuck in the cycle of abuse and addiction can attest to the difficult nature of getting out of it. Ketamine is a potent, powerful drug that can get its grip on a person’s life and jeopardize it. Continuing on a road of addiction to ketamine can lead to impacts to mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. Understanding ketamine and its effects can help be the starting point for anyone trying to break free from the cycle of addiction.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a sedative drug used in veterinary medicine for large animals such as horses. It is used to induce and maintain sedation during medical and veterinary procedures, illicitly it is used as a hallucinogenic drug. Those who have been administered ketamine for its sedative effects often report periods of dissociation from the physical world, hallucinations, impaired motor movements, and amnesia. It is produced and distributed in different forms. From tablets and nasal sprays to liquid used intravenously.

It is known by slang terms such as K, Special K, Super K, and Vitamin K. When used medically for anesthesia purposes, it doesn’t have the respiratory depression effects that other sedatives have, making it a safe alternative medically. However, when used inappropriately for the purpose of getting high, the effects can lead to dangerously devastating results.

Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine abuse is becoming more and more popular across the United States, leading to memory and attention issues, impaired breathing, and other health and psychological problems. Abusing this drug can be done by intravenous injection, intramuscular injection, or snorting it. The effects of ketamine can take effect in up to 30 minutes, sometimes immediately. 

The effects of this drug can be mild to severe, even in clinical settings. Rashes and discoloration at the injection site, facial and tongue swelling, hives, nausea, vomiting, delirium and cardiac and respiratory arrest can all occur as a result of ketamine abuse. Vivid hallucinations are another effect. These hallucinations can feel and seem like they are real, and lead to dangerous reactions.

Higher doses of ketamine can result in a coma and even death. Ketamine overdose requires immediate medical attention, and any person undergoing an overdose should be medically treated as soon as possible to prevent a fatal overdose. 

Signs of ketamine abuse can include decreased sensitivity to pain, paranoia, delirium, panic and anxiety. Other signs to look out for include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Feelings of intense power
  • Lying and hiding usage
  • Stealing 
  • Withdrawal from enjoyable activities
  • Physical symptoms of withdrawal

Ketamine Withdrawal

The effects of ketamine withdrawal are not as well known as other substances. However, there are psychological effects caused by withdrawal from ketamine that should be looked out for and addressed. The symptoms of withdrawal can begin as little as 24 hours after the last use, and can last anywhere from 4 days up to a couple of weeks. The ketamine withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, cravings, irritability, anger, confusion, mood swings, tremors, seizures, and suicidal thoughts. 

Experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts when trying to come off of a drug is dangerous. These mental health conditions can have devastating results. Having professional care as a person ends the abuse of this drug can be extremely beneficial in that any symptoms that arise can be monitored and addressed. It can help to prevent these devastating results from happening. 


As with other drugs, ketamine withdrawal and detox are necessary when starting with a clean slate. Ridding the body of the toxins that were introduced is crucial to having a clear mind and being able to address underlying issues that lead to abusing the drug to begin with. Professional medical detox can make the process of ending ketamine abuse and addiction smoother. Addressing any physical and psychological symptoms as they arise can make the process more comfortable, and addressing the severe symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can ensure someone’s safety through this process. Not everybody recovers at the same pace.

A friend could have had minor symptoms of withdrawal as they go through the process. This could be different for the next person. Their symptoms could be more severe and complicated. Age, mental health, and physical well-being can all play a part in how intense and severe the withdrawal process is. Having proper care is essential to ensuring the best start to the road to recovery from ketamine abuse and addiction.

Help for Ketamine Abuse 

Ketamine is a dangerous substance. The impacts on mental health and physical health are vast and can be severe. From depression and anxiety to organ damage, addiction to ketamine can be a dangerous undertaking requiring professional help to overcome.

If you or a loved one are struggling with Ketamine, Ocean Hills can help. Our on-site professionals are here to help as you begin a journey to a new life and begin to regain control of your life again. Reach out now and begin a journey to a new life!

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