Ketamine is a drug that is used in both human and veterinary medicine as an anesthetic. The drug has shown to also have hallucinogenic and other properties in humans. Ketamine is similar to PCP and tiletamine which are two drugs of the same class as ketamine. The drug is a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States, and it is also a commonly abused drug because of its availability on the illegal drug market.
Ketamine supplies for illicit use come from diverted legitimate suppliers and importation from other countries in which ketamine use is not heavily regulated. Ketamine abuse and addiction have become common since the drug has become more available for illegal purchase. The drug is abused for its dissociative properties as well as its hallucinogenic effects that are somewhat similar to phencyclidine (PCP) and dextromethorphan (DXM). Because the drug is odorless and tasteless, it is sometimes used as a date rape drug.
Treatments for ketamine abuse and addiction may take place at drug rehab centers. Typically, treatment of ketamine abuse or addiction involves an initial individual assessment to address the needs of the patient. Treatment of ketamine abuse may then involve psychotherapy, detoxification, and group therapy. Because ketamine has been shown to be psychologically addictive, there are psychological withdrawal symptoms that often need to be treated in cases of ketamine abuse and addiction.
Ketamine Abuse Symptoms
Ketamine abuse symptoms vary between the level of addiction and individual. Spotting ketamine abuse symptoms in a ketamine addict is important for obtaining early and prompt treatment. The drug has potentially serious physical and psychological effects. Physical side effects of ketamine abuse include nausea, increased heart rate, numbness, decreased respiration, loss of coordination, muscle rigidity, high blood pressure, and impaired motor function. Large doses may cause potentially fatal respiratory failure.
The psychological ketamine effects are substantial and include hallucinations, delirium, depersonalization, disassociation, mental clouding, loss of memory, impaired attention, flashbacks, amnesia, and aggressive behavior. The drug produces intense physical and psychological effects in its users that can last from 1 to 2 hours. Large doses of ketamine produce an effect nicknamed the “K-hole” which is a state of disassociation from reality and is likened to an out-of-body experience.
Ketamine is typically sold in powder form for the purpose of inhalation, injection, or oral intake. The drug can also be smoked in a pipe or mixed with marijuana. Ketamine can also be injected intramuscularly in the leg. Abusers of Ketamine will often have paraphernalia associated with ketamine abuse such as needles, pipes, joint papers, or small containers filled with ketamine powder. The drug produces a dangerously vulnerable and unpredictable state in its users. As a result, cases of ketamine abuse and addiction should be taken very seriously.
Since ketamine is psychologically addictive, cases of ketamine abuse and addiction have a number of psychological and sometimes physical withdrawal symptoms. The drug has also been shown to produce a tolerance in its abusers. This results in abusers taking increasingly larger doses over time to attain an effect. The psychological addiction may lead to binge behavior in which the user continues ingesting ketamine drugs over a short period of time which then may lead to dangerous psychological and physical ketamine effects.
Although ketamine is not shown to produce physical withdrawal symptoms, there may be several psychological symptoms associated with ketamine withdrawal. Some of the reported psychological withdrawal effects from the drug include restlessness, depression, insomnia, and irritability. The psychological withdrawal symptoms may be severe in cases of chronic ketamine abuse and patients in many cases will require monitoring and medical supervision as they go through the withdrawal process.
Patients often require psychotherapy to deal with related psychological problems of ketamine addiction and abuse. The most severe side effects of ketamine withdrawal are psychological in nature and may require long term treatment over a period of weeks. Many patients with ketamine addiction may also have psychological disorders such as depression or mania that also need to be treated along with their addiction.
Ketamine detoxification may be required for patients that have been using ketamine drugs for a short or long period of time. Detoxification may occur at drug rehab centers or at a hospital or other medical facility. Typically, detoxification will include monitoring the patient for any physical and psychological symptoms. Psychiatric medications may be provided to treat psychological symptoms of the drug. Cases in which a patient has taken a large dose of ketamine drugs may be considered a medical emergency and require detoxification at an emergency room. Delirium, schizophrenia-like effects, hallucinations, and other very potent psychological side effects often require medical supervision to ensure that patients do not harm themselves.
Detoxification from ketamine should never be performed at home. Without the supervision of trained addiction and medical specialists, the safety of the patient is compromised if he or she is not monitored while detoxifying from the drug. In many cases of ketamine abuse, it is not just the drug that causes danger to the patient, but the patient may be involved in dangerous activities such as driving while under the influence of ketamine or mixing ketamine with other harmful drugs. Patients may also resort to binge behavior if they are not monitored while undergoing ketamine detoxification, and at high doses ketamine may cause fatal respiratory depression.
Ketamine Addiction Treatment
Ketamine addiction is a serious medical illness that is best treated with the help of drug rehab centers. Ketamine addiction may be treated with a wide range of methods at a rehab center. The drug’s psychological addiction may cause severe symptoms, and these symptoms may place the patient in serious danger. As a result, patients are monitored closely at drug rehab centers as they undergo withdrawal and recover from ketamine addiction. Patients may receive counseling, behavioral modification therapy, and group therapy to help them overcome their addiction.
Psychological counseling may address any underlying causes that are contributing to the patient’s abuse of the drug. Psychological counseling is also used to provide support for the patient. Also, psychiatric medications may be used to treat any psychological effects of ketamine withdrawal such as anxiety and depression. Patients may also experience withdrawal insomnia that may be treated with medications. Patients will often need to be monitored for an extended period of time as they recover from their ketamine addiction to ensure that they do not relapse.
Drug rehab centers provide ketamine addicts a protected environment where they are not exposed to harmful influences that may be contributing to their addiction. They receive all of the medical and psychological support that they need. Outpatient programs can treat those addicted to ketamine without requiring them to stay at a facility. Inpatient programs may be required for other cases of ketamine abuse and addiction and offer the advantage of continual support and monitoring of the patient.