Ketamine Side Effects To Be Aware Of

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

Ketamine Side Effects To Be Aware Of

Often referred to as "K" or "Special K" on the streets, ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic that induces a sense of detachment from reality.

The drug was originally designed for surgical purposes (e.g. ketamine injections) but has found alternative applications, such as pain management and treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While it can provide relief from certain medical conditions and mental health issues, it's essential to be aware of potential side effects and the damage it can cause.

In this blog, we'll delve into the various side effects associated with ketamine use, making it easy to understand and highlighting the importance of responsible consumption.

Is Ketamine Dangerous?

Whether ketamine is dangerous or not depends on how it's used. In a medical setting, when administered by medical professionals, ketamine is generally safe and effective for managing pain and anaesthesia. It may also be used for treating depression and certain mental health conditions when prescribed by a doctor.

However, when people misuse ketamine for its hallucinogenic effects, it can be dangerous. Ketamine misuse can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Abusing ketamine (taking ketamine without supervision or a prescription) can be dangerous and even life-threatening. So, it's crucial to use this drug only as prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider and avoid recreational use to stay safe.

Taking extremely high doses of ketamine can lead to a ketamine overdose. This can lead to serious health problems and even be life-threatening. Symptoms of a ketamine overdose may include extreme confusion, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness.

If you think you are having a ketamine overdose, it's crucial to seek immediate medical help. Doctors can provide treatments to manage the overdose's effects, such as stabilising breathing and heart rate.

Short-Term Effects of Ketamine

If you take ketamine, or a friend or family member takes ketamine, it’s important that you are aware of some common side effects of ketamine use.

Side effects can begin from 5 minutes to 30 minutes after taking the drug orally - with many adverse effects occurring around 15 minutes after use. Some effects may persist for 24 hours or longer.

Hallucinations and Dissociation

One of the primary effects of ketamine is its ability to induce hallucinations and a feeling of detachment from one's body and surroundings.

These experiences can vary from mildly disorienting to profoundly transformative. Some people report experiences that are similar to near-death experiences. That can be both distressing and transformative for users.

Nausea and Vomiting

Ketamine can irritate the stomach lining, leading to nausea, abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting. We recommend that you avoid eating a heavy meal before using ketamine to reduce the likelihood of these side effects.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Ketamine can temporarily elevate heart rate and blood pressure. Increased heart rate and high blood pressure may pose risks for those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.


In lower doses, ketamine can induce a sedative effect, making you feel relaxed and sometimes drowsy.

Impaired Coordination

Ketamine can affect motor skills and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries.

Respiratory Depression

At higher doses or when combined with other depressants like alcohol or opioids, ketamine can lead to slowed breathing, which can be life-threatening.

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine

It’s not just short-term effects that you should be wary of when using ketamine. The drug can also cause some serious long-term effects, including ketamine dependence.

Cognitive Impairment

Chronic ketamine abuse may result in cognitive impairments. This can lead to short and long-term memory loss, as well as impacted attention span and decision-making abilities.

Bladder Problems

A concerning long-term effect is ketamine-induced cystitis, a condition that affects the bladder. Ketamine bladder symptoms include frequent urination, pain, and blood in the urine.

Mental Health Issues

Some users report experiencing anxiety, depression, or mood swings after using ketamine. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions.


Over time, the body can build up a tolerance to ketamine, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. This tolerance can lead to increased health risks and potential overdose.

Ketamine Addiction

While ketamine is less addictive than some other drugs, it is still possible to develop a psychological dependence on it, particularly when used regularly. This can lead to cravings and compulsive use.

When someone stops using ketamine after prolonged use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, mood swings, and physical discomfort.

Ketamine rehab is extremely beneficial for those with ketamine addiction. It offers a structured and supportive environment for recovery. Drug rehab equips you with the tools and skills you need to break free from the cycle of addiction and lead healthier, drug-free lives.

The first step in ketamine rehab is often detoxification. This process helps individuals safely withdraw from ketamine while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Medical supervision is crucial during this phase to ensure the individual's safety and comfort. Medical professionals may provide medications or interventions to manage cravings and address any co-occurring mental health issues.

Following detoxification, individual and group therapy sessions are essential components of ketamine rehab. These sessions help individuals explore the reasons behind their ketamine use and develop healthier coping strategies.

Overcome your ketamine addiction today with Help4Addiction. We can connect you with the best ketamine rehab for you, your needs and your preferences.

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