Ketamine is a member of the family of club drugs, which include Ecstasy, MDMA, LSD and ketamine. These drugs are popular at parties, nightclubs, music venues and raves. Because of their popularity among youths at these fun events, the misconception that they are safe is far too pervasive. They are not safe. Sovereign Health takes club drug addiction seriously, as it is no less dangerous than heroin or methamphetamine addiction. Ketamine addiction can create a lot of hazards and stressful life events if not recognized or treated appropriately.

Ketamine Abuse

A tranquilizer, analgesic and dissociative anesthetic, ketamine is commonly used in surgeries and medical procedures for humans and animals. The drug blocks the neurotransmitter glutamate at its receptor, resulting in a trance-like dissociative state. Originally used to induce anesthesia in soldiers undergoing procedures on the battlefield during the Vietnam War, ketamine replaced the medical use of PCP in the 1960s and, hence, the first cases of ketamine addiction likely occurred in Vietnam veterans.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies ketamine as a Schedule III drug, and it is still widely used in human and veterinary medicine today. Because it can be synthetically produced in a laboratory, ketamine is commonly used as a street drug. Ketamine abuse is common among partygoers and clubbers. Street names include special K, vitamin K, kit kat, cat Valium and many others. Ketamine addiction occurs after multiple uses of the drug, which induces a euphoric state.

Ketamine is odorless, tasteless and available as a clear liquid or a white crystalline powder. The liquid form is injected and mixed into drinks. Ketamine’s amnesic effects enable its abuse as a “date rape” drug, which sexual predators slip into their victims’ drinks to render them unconscious. Ketamine can be snorted, taken orally or injected. Because it is difficult to manufacture, it is commonly isolated from pharmaceutical drugs used in human or veterinary medicine. Medically used ketamine is produced in the United States and in other countries. Most illegally used ketamine is stolen from legitimate sources, especially veterinary clinics, or smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, reports the DEA.

Side Effects Of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine produces a host of mental and physical side effects. As a hallucinogen, the drug distorts perceptions, including sights and sounds, and gives the user a sense of being disconnected or out of control, reports the DEA. These effects occur only a few minutes after taking the drug. Compared to LSD and PCP, ketamine’s hallucinogenic effects are relatively short and might last 30 to 60 minutes, rather than several hours.

Mental side effects of ketamine use include:

  • Agitation
  • Amnesia
  • Cognitive Difficulties
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Unconsciousness

Physical side effects of ketamine use include:

  • Dangerously slow breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Involuntary rapid eye movement
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Salivation
  • Tear secretion

Ketamine Addiction Recovery

Ketamine is generally used as a party drug to enhance the state of mind and create euphoria, but it does not have withdrawal effects like heroin or cocaine and, therefore, does not have as high of an addiction potential. The party life itself can be an addictive lifestyle with late nights, substance abuse, euphoria and constant socialization, and when the partying stops, the person can crave that excitement again.

Although no specific medications are available for ketamine treatment, many psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and neurofeedback help patients recover from ketamine addiction. Ketamine addiction recovery is not specific but rather encompasses an all-around psychological approach to treating substance use disorders. Although research on treatment options for ketamine is limited, Sovereign Health is a leading provider of addiction and mental health treatment services. With ketamine treatment centers around the United States, the experienced and licensed staff can help diagnose and treat ketamine addiction.

Ketamine Treatment at Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health’s behavioral health facility at Rancho San Diego is equipped with the latest treatment options and information on new designer drugs, providing the highest level of care for teens ages 12 to 17 years of age, regardless of how new or obscure the substance may be. Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectal behavior therapy, neurofeedback and cognitive remediation are proven therapies to help patients recover from substance addiction. Although no specific treatments are available for ketamine abuse, it is important for the patient to gain, firsthand, the tools available to fight against addiction triggers to live a healthy lifestyle.

If you are interested in learning more about Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego’s adolescent treatment programs for substance abuse, mental health or co-occurring disorders, contact our admissions team through our 24/7 helpline.

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