Ketamine addiction

Special K, Vitamin K, Horse. These are all common street names given to ketamine, a commonly abused drug that can have devastating effects on users. Frequent ketamine abuse can impact your health, relationships and future prospects and often leads to ketamine addiction, an all-consuming affliction that can be incredibly difficult to overcome. However, Banbury Lodge has helped many people overcome ketamine addiction and go on to live healthy, happy lives free from the prison of this awful condition.

Ketamine addiction - bag of ketamine

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a powerful and fast-acting dissociative anaesthetic drug that was first developed in the 1960s. It is commonly used as a sedative in medical procedures and as a veterinary anaesthetic but it is also used recreationally for its psychoactive effects. In recent years, ketamine has also shown promise in helping with depression, chronic pain and other medical conditions and it is being studied for its potential therapeutic effects.

When used recreationally, ketamine is typically snorted or injected but it can also be taken orally or rectally. The drug can cause intense feelings of dissociation, euphoria and hallucinations but ketamine abuse can lead to tolerance, dependence and addiction with frequent use.

How does ketamine work?

Ketamine works by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor which is involved in the regulation of mood and emotions in the brain. By blocking this receptor, ketamine can increase the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which are responsible for regulating mood, emotions and cognitive processes. This increase in neurotransmitter activity is also what causes the drug’s psychoactive effects and is also why it can be effective in depression management.

What is ketamine addiction and how does it develop?

Ketamine addiction is a form of drug addiction where you compulsively take ketamine despite it causing negative consequences. There are two main routes to ketamine addiction, prescription and recreational.

To explain how these routes unfold, meet Amy and Tom. Both of them have experienced ketamine addiction but their stories are very different.

Amy had a history of depression and her psychiatrist prescribed her ketamine to help with the symptoms. At first, she was hesitant to try it because she knew it was a potent drug with a reputation for abuse. However, after experiencing positive effects and feeling a sense of euphoria, she began to take ketamine more regularly. Amy started to notice that she needed more of it to achieve the same effects and she began to feel anxious when she couldn’t get her hands on it. Over time, Amy became physically dependent on ketamine and eventually developed a severe ketamine addiction that affected every aspect of her life.

Tom, on the other hand, started taking ketamine recreationally at parties. He was intrigued by the intense psychoactive effects and the sense of disconnection from reality. Tom found that he enjoyed taking ketamine more and more frequently and soon he was using it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Tom began to experience negative consequences in his personal and professional life but he couldn’t stop using the drug because he felt like he needed it just to function and to feel normal. Eventually, Tom realised that he had developed a severe addiction and needed professional help to overcome it.

Both Amy and Tom’s stories illustrate how ketamine addiction can develop, whether through prescription or recreational use, without a person even being aware of what is happening until it’s too late.

Who is most at risk of becoming addicted to ketamine?

Ketamine addiction can affect anyone who uses the drug, regardless of age, gender or background. However, some individuals may be at higher risk of developing a ketamine addiction than others. Here are some factors that may increase a person’s risk of becoming addicted to ketamine:

  • Individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction
  • People with mental health conditions who use ketamine to self-medicate or cope with their symptoms
  • Individuals with a history of trauma who use ketamine as a way of coping with emotional pain
  • People who use ketamine frequently or in high doses as tolerance and dependence are more likely to form
  • People who combine ketamine with other substances as this can increase the risk of negative side effects and more likely to lead to ketamine addiction
  • Individuals who have easy access to ketamine as this can increase the likelihood of frequent use and addiction
  • Young people who may be more likely to experiment with drugs and engage in risky behaviours

Am I addicted to ketamine?

Recognising the signs of ketamine addiction is crucial in getting help as soon as possible. However, ketamine addiction is a master of deception so it can be challenging to recognise ketamine addiction signs, especially in the early stages.

To help you see through the deception and identify ketamine addiction symptoms, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you find yourself using ketamine more often than you originally intended or in larger amounts than you planned?
  • Have you tried to stop using ketamine but have been unsuccessful?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using ketamine, such as sweating, anxiety or tremors?
  • Have you continued to use ketamine despite experiencing negative consequences in your life?
  • Have you neglected important responsibilities or activities due to your use of ketamine?
  • Have you developed a tolerance to ketamine, requiring you to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects?
  • Have you experienced cravings or strong urges to use ketamine?
  • Have you continued to use ketamine despite knowing that it is harming your physical or mental health?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could point to the symptoms of ketamine addiction so you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

The health effects of ketamine abuse and addiction

Ketamine abuse and addiction can have a variety of negative effects on a person’s health, both physical and mental. Some of the most common health effects of ketamine abuse and addiction include:

  • Increased risk of accidents or injuries due to impaired judgment and coordination
  • Memory loss and cognitive impairment
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Chronic bladder problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Social withdrawal and isolation

Ketamine addiction - man having anxiety attack

Another potentially dangerous health effect is commonly known as a “k-hole”. This is a term used to describe the intense dissociative state that can occur when taking high doses of ketamine. It is often described as feeling completely disconnected from reality and can be a frightening and disorienting experience.

During a K-hole, a person may experience:

  • Vivid hallucinations
  • A loss of sense of self
  • A feeling of being outside of their body

The effects of a K-hole can last for several hours and may have long-lasting psychological effects. While some people seek out this experience, it is important to recognise these risks and potential negative consequences associated with taking high doses of ketamine.

Ketamine overdose

Ketamine overdose can occur when a person takes a large amount of the drug, which can cause life-threatening effects on the body. The signs and symptoms of a ketamine overdose can include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure.

Overdose can occur even with a single use of the drug, but the risk increases with high doses and frequent use.

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on ketamine, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Treatment for a ketamine overdose typically involves supportive care such as monitoring vital signs and administering oxygen or fluids. In severe cases, medication may be needed to manage symptoms or prevent complications.

Other effects of ketamine abuse and addiction

In addition to the health effects, ketamine abuse and addiction can have a significant impact on other areas of a person’s life, including:

  • Strained relationships with friends and family members
  • Difficulty maintaining employment or completing schoolwork
  • Legal problems, including arrests for possession or distribution of ketamine
  • Financial problems due to the high cost of the drug and potential legal fees

How is ketamine addiction treated?

Like all forms of hallucinogens addiction, an addiction to ketamine can be incredibly difficult to overcome on your own so professional help is often necessary. Effective treatment for ketamine addiction usually involves:

  • Ketamine detox: The process of safely removing the drug from the body under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Ketamine rehab: A comprehensive programme involving therapy, counselling and support groups to address the underlying issues that led to ketamine addiction and develop healthy coping strategies for maintaining sobriety.

Banbury Lodge provides both of these at our state-of-the-art ketamine addiction recovery centre so get in touch with us today to find out more.

Ketamine addiction - therapy session

Three must-know ketamine facts

  • Ketamine is classified as a Class B drug in the UK which makes it illegal to produce, supply or possess the drug.
  • Street ketamine is commonly “cut” with other potentially harmful substances increasing the risk of serious health effects.
  • Ketamine is a commonly used “date rape drug” because high doses can cause blackouts and memory loss and make it easier to manipulate people.

How to get help for ketamine addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with ketamine addiction, it is essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. Banbury Lodge is a specialised addiction recovery centre that has successfully helped hundreds of people overcome ketamine addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our programmes and how we can help.

Frequently asked questions

Can you become addicted to ketamine after just one use?
While it is possible to experience the psychoactive effects of ketamine after just one use, ketamine addiction typically develops with repeated use over time. However, the chances of developing an addiction to ketamine can vary depending on a person’s individual risk factors. Even a single use of ketamine can be dangerous and can lead to negative consequences such as accidents, injuries or overdose.
Is ketamine really a horse tranquiliser?
Ketamine is sometimes used as a veterinary anaesthetic so is often referred to as a horse tranquiliser, particularly among recreational users and in the media where “horse tranquiliser” is often used for sensationalism. However, ketamine is also used as a human anaesthetic and is prescribed as a medication for depression and chronic pain.
What is esketamine therapy?
Esketamine therapy is a new form of therapy for depression that uses a nasal spray containing esketamine, a derivative of ketamine. It is administered under medical supervision and has a rapid onset of action, with many patients experiencing significant improvement in their depression symptoms. Esketamine therapy is only available through a healthcare provider who is certified to administer it and is typically used in combination with therapy and other depression approaches.
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