If you suffer from a Ketamine addiction in England or Wales, let us guide you towards rehab options near you.
*This page was medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever in April 2021.
If you have become addicted to Ketamine and want to get help to come off it, call us for help. If you are interested in learning more about how to get off ketamine, but don’t have a firm plan to quit yet, then keep reading. This page contains all you need to know about Ketamine addictions and treatments.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a drug that has been on the recreational drug scene since the 1980s. It’s described scientifically as a “dissociative anaesthetic” which means that it can make the user feel as if they are having an out-of-body experience at the same time as feeling sedated. Thanks to the unusual qualities of the drug, people who use it often report a range of effects. Some abusers say that they have what feels like a near-death experience, coming close to the point where they can perceive their spirit leaving their bodies. Other’s report feeling euphoric and free from worry.
What is Ketamine Addiction?
Ketamine is addictive because of the impact that it has on the brain. Ketamine changes the chemistry of the brain, leading to an increase in tolerance and a desire for more of the drug to prevent the inevitable crash.
It is believed that it may produce similar changes in the brain to cocaine and amphetamines, thanks to its similar chemical structure. It is, therefore, possible for chronic users to become addicted to ketamine over the long-term, making it no less dangerous than “hard” drugs.
What does Ketamine do to your Body?
Ketamine was developed in the 60s and was used in the battlefields of the Vietnam War[i]. At high doses, people can slip into a profound unconscious state of where they experience vivid dreams and visions. Many people say that they feel blissful or happy, but others can find the experience of the drug terrifying and upsetting. How a user feels varies from person to person, based on personality type and a host of other factors.
Ketamine induces what may feel like a spiritual experience, although this is the effect of the substance, rather than anything deeper or more meaningful. Trips on ketamine usually last about an hour and can induce feelings of profound relaxation. Sights and sounds becoming distorted at lower doses, leading people to feel as if they are leaving their troubles behind.
Other Names for Ketamine
Because ketamine was originally intended for animals, it goes by some animal-related names, including Ket, Kit Kat, K, special K and “Dorothy.”[ii] Ketamine is also used for children who cannot tolerate other kinds of anaesthetics, thanks to its “short-lived” duration in the body.
How is Ketamine Used?
Ketamine comes as a white or light brown powder. It is snorted, mixed into drinks to be taken orally, or injected[iii].
Ketamine addiction facts and statistics
Ketamine falls into the same category of drugs as codeine and anabolic steroids. A government crime survey of England and Wales in 2019 found that 141,000 more people used Ketamine in 2019 than had been recorded the year before. The increase was particularly prevalent in the 16-24 year old age group, where usage jumped from 1.2% of adults, to 3.2%. This rise prompted UK journalists to speculate over the rise in that younger demographic.
In the UK, ketamine was upgraded from a class C to a class B drug in 2014[iv], following a spate of bladder removals of people who had taken high doses of the drug. People caught trafficking class B drugs face a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. It can cause both physical and behavioural addiction.
What are the Causes of Ketamine Addiction?
There are no hard and fast reasons why someone turns to drugs. However, science tends to classify the causes of addiction as follows:
- Social and environmental – did you grow up in a bad area? Do you have ketamine users in your friend group?
- Addiction of Parents – if your parents were addicts, there’s a greater risk you will be, too.
- Addiction from birth – some babies are born with an addiction which may lead to a propensity towards drug use in later life.
- Genetic predisposition – for whatever reasons, some of us have a predisposition towards addiction written into our DNA[v].
- Life Events – a job loss, loss of a loved one, financial ruin, and other stressful life events cause addiction[vi].
What are some common signs of Ketamine Use?
There are several visible signs that you or somebody you know might be in the throes of ketamine addiction.
Redness Of the Skin
If you suddenly notice redness of the skin, it could be a sign that a person is addicted to ketamine. Skin redness on the face and around the neck can occur in some cases of ketamine abuse, particularly when a person takes a high dose.
Ketamine is a sedative. Because of this, it can interfere with a person’s ability to form coherent speech patterns. Slurred speech is a sign that a person isn’t well in general, but if they have no other health problems, it is a strong indication that a person may be consuming controlled substances.
As discussed, ketamine produces a high which negatively affects the chemical composition of the brain. The brain begins to down regulate feel-good factors while exposed to ketamine, believing that it has enough. However, the drug induces changes in brain chemistry which may cause users to feel depression. Sudden onset of depression may, therefore, be an indication of ketamine use.
Ketamine use can cause insomnia despite the user feeling sleepy.
Loss Of Coordination
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, meaning that it can result in hallucinations and a feeling of being detached from reality. This can also lead to a loss of coordination, as a person cannot accurately determine the position of their body or its relation to their environment.
People can feel agitated while not experiencing the effects of ketamine, again because of changes to their brain chemistry. It is a common sign of ketamine abuse.
Physical Signs of a Ketamine User
Some of the Physical symptoms of ketamine use include:
- Impaired motor function – even in small doses[vii].
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bladder damage – Sometimes users refer to bladder pain as “ket cramps.” Chemical by-products of ketamine consumption cause damage to the lining of the bladder and the tubes leading to it which, in some cases, can necessitate surgery[viii].
- Brain damage – long-term ketamine abuse can lead to permanent damage to the brain.
- Respiratory failure. There are some reports that ketamine usage may result in respiratory failure and death.
- Respiratory distress – resulting from the effects of ketamine at a physiological level and on a person’s nervous system[ix]
- Slowed movement
Physiological Signs of a Ketamine User
Some of the mental effects’ ketamine use will have on a patient include:
- Psychotic episodes and hallucinations
- Impaired judgment – which could lead a person to put themselves in dangerous situations that they would typically avoid
- Distorted perceptions of sight and sound – which again could lead to bad decision-making
How is Ketamine Addiction Treated?
Ketamine addiction can be treated on the NHS but waiting lists are long and progress is short. Instead, opt for private rehab or detox help to get you started. The treatment will include the following stages.
Ketamine Addiction Detox
ketamine detoxification takes between five and seven days. That is the length of time it takes for the body to process the ketamine in the system. Till the ketamine has been processed, it will be detectable in the urine[x].
After the acute detoxification stage, which can last two to four days, comes the therapy and counselling part of rehab. The purpose of talk therapy is to prevent relapse once a patient returns home to their regular environment.
Ketamine Addiction Rehab
Ketamine rehab often involves becoming a resident in a rehab facility for the duration of the detox period (and sometimes longer). While in rehab, you’ll no longer have access to the drugs that are damaging your body and you’ll get around-the-clock support to ensure your health and safety. Ketamine rehab can be a challenging experience, but with the help of support staff, you’ll be on your way to a rapid recovery.
Aftercare and Secondary Rehab Treatments
Secondary rehab treatment aims to ease your transition back into normal life. It usually contains group therapy, telephone support, and sometimes online therapy to help you along.
What are the Symptoms of Ketamine Withdrawal?
Coming off ketamine can be an unpleasant experience. People can experience hearing loss, double vision, loss of coordination, rapid breathing, and a rapid heart rate. For these reasons, it is important for people undergoing ketamine addiction treatment to do so under medical supervision in a safe drug rehab centre.
How much does Rehab for Ketamine Addiction cost?
The cost of rehab can be high in some circumstances. Private rehab facilities typically charge around £1000 per week. But it’s worth remembering that the price is small compared to the benefits of living a life free from addiction to drugs. When you can live free, you can achieve your financial and personal goals.
Can I be treated as an Outpatient?
It is best to go through a medically assisted detox for ketamine addiction, which should always take place as an inpatient. However, you may wish to be seen as an outpatient if you are seeking help on the NHS. You shouldn’t try to rehab at home unless you have discussed it with your doctor.
Ketamine Addiction Recovery Timeline
Bearing in mind that the rehab and detox times will vary per patient, you will need up to 7 days for the Ketamine to fully detox from your system. You will then need to stay in a dedicated rehab clinic until you feel well enough to manage your symptoms on your own. Although 7 day rehab programmes are available, we would always recommend a 14-day or a 28-day treatment plan, instead.
Get a Free Consultation for Ketamine Addiction
You can get a free consultation if you are addicted to ketamine, by following the link at the top of the page. Our consultation will teach you all about your options for getting off drugs. We can help you with professional referrals to rehab, too.
Get Help for Ketamine Addiction
Help4Addiction is an addiction helpline that connects people who need help overcoming ketamine addiction with rehab centres throughout the UK. With our help, you can find a rehab clinic for yourself (or somebody you know) that suits their individual needs. Call now, on 0203 955 7700.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ketamine?
What taking ketamine do to you?
Why is ketamine dangerous?
Is Ketamine illegal?
Can you overdose on Ketamine?
Can using ketamine kill you?
What is a K-Cramp?
Can Ketamine cause psychological or mental health issues?
Is Ketamine addictive?
How do I help someone who is addicted to ket?