Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine is a common anesthetic for painful medical procedures. Additionally, it has also been approved as an option for patients suffering from severe depression that do not respond to other treatments. Brand names for these applications of ketamine include Ketalar, Spravato, or Ketaset. Ketamine is derived from phencyclidine (PCP) and considered a dissociative drug. This class of drugs cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment. As usage increases, so does the concern around ketamine abuse and addiction.

Generally, with proper use, risk of overdose or addiction is strikingly low. Using ketamine without medical supervision, however, increases the likelihood of abuse and long-term effects.

Robbery of a veterinary clinic is the most common way ketamine is acquired for illicit use. It’s then sold under street names such as:

  • K
  • Cat Valium
  • Lady K
  • Special K
  • Vitamin K
  • Super K
  • Kit-Kat
  • Keets
  • Super Acid
  • Jet

Over the past 10 years, Ketamine has grown in popularity as a “club drug” for its hallucinogenic effects.


Club drugs” are substances common at nightclubs, music festivals, raves, and dance parties to enhance social intimacy and sensory stimulation. These environments make them prime candidates for polysubstance abuse, meaning they are usually combined with alcohol and/or other often adulterated or misrepresented drug substances.

ketamine addiction - club drugs

Club drugs continue to grow in popularity for four main reasons:

  1. Low cost 
  2. Convenient distribution as small pills, powders, or liquids
  3. The belief that their status as a pharmaceutical makes them less dangerous 
  4. Their appeal as a way to intensify social interactions 

So far, the interaction of ketamine with other drugs is largely unknown. Ultimately, this makes casual use of ketamine more dangerous, being that it is frequently supplied as part of a “trail mix” of methamphetamine, cocaine, sildenafil citrate (Viagra), or heroin.


Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. In a manner similar to PCP, it works by blocking calcium flow by binding to the NMDA receptor, resulting in an increased dopamine release. While considered less intense than PCP, even low doses of ketamine produce psychedelic effects quickly.

ketamine addiction


Recreational use of ketamine is neither legal nor safe. The sense of physical closeness, empathy, and euphoria it creates encourages dependence upon the drug for social interaction. The short duration of these feelings can begin a cycle of abuse in the effort to re-experience this temporary relief of tension or anxiety.

During this dream-like state, the loss of touch with reality can encourage a sense of invulnerability or exaggerated sense of strength. However, the numbness & loss of coordination that comes with these feelings often results in unintentional injuries as the user is insensitive to pain. Hallucinations and aggressive or violent behaviour are also negative side effects regularly seen even with small doses.

Consuming too much ketamine can be fatal.  A ketamine overdose is most likely when other substances are present. Vomiting, convulsions, & amnesia are strong signs of overdose on ketamine or a related hallucinogen.

Even if overdose symptoms never surface, the short- and long-term effects of ketamine use can mean:

ketamine addiction - short-term and long-term effects


The effects of a ‘high’ usually last an hour but they can last for 4-6 hours. Generally, 24-48 hours are necessary before the user feels completely “normal” again. Studies have observed memory impairment as well as paranoia and personality disorder-like effects even three days after dosage. Effects of the chronic use of ketamine may take from several months to two years to wear off completely.


According to the DEA, ketamine does have the potential for abuse and “…may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” A serious risk in using illicit ketamine is always the presence of other substances. Other substances are potentially highly addictive and increase the risk of overdose.

The length of use and amount of the drug plays a significant part the severity of dependence. While it is not necessarily as highly addictive as other drugs, the potential for abuse and dependence exists. Further, many people react differently and some might develop a dependence while others have not.

The intent of dissociative drugs is to give a consumer relief from pain. Recreational use of them out of a desire to alter or cope with social situations significantly increases the likelihood of psychological dependence.

To emphasize, you should only accept ketamine with careful monitoring by a certified medical professional. The combination of illicit or even commonplace prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products could make it harder to recover from ketamine’s effects.


Critically, people turn to drugs as a way to alter their interaction with the world around them. A desire to disconnect from pain or feel connected to people can drive someone to seek substances that drastically alter their state of mind. While experiencing a high can appear a harmless activity, ketamine overdose can lead to physical injury, brain damage, and even death.

If you or a loved one suffers from habitual substance use in an effort to form meaningful connections, there is hope. Empathetic community & accountability are cornerstone elements of a road to recovery that lasts a lifetime. And increased social connection is just one of the major side effects of spending time in nature. Both are integral at Mountain View Recovery. Contact us today to see how Adventure Therapy can help.

MountainView Recovery

5475 Mark Dabling Blvd #102
Colorado Springs, Co 80918

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