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Ketamine, a member of the family of club drugs like Ecstasy, is a dissociative anesthetic with hallucinogenic effects

These drugs are popular at parties, nightclubs, music venues and raves. Known to induce a sense of sedation, the drug has the ability to make its users feel detached from their pain and the environment. Some of its common street names are Special K, Super Acid, Super K, Cat Valium and Jet K, among others. As per the recent data, in 2016, while an estimated 1.4 million people aged 12 or above used hallucinogens, the number was less at approximately 114,000 for adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Though street sales of ketamine are rare, distribution of the drug typically occurs through friends and acquaintances. Because of their popularity among youths, the misconception that these “club drugs” are safe is far too pervasive. They are not safe. Sovereign Health considers club drug addiction as a serious threat, as it is no less dangerous than addiction to heroin or methamphetamine. Ketamine addiction can create many stressful life events, if not identified in time or treated under expert supervision.

Ketamine abuse

Ketamine is commonly used in surgeries and medical procedures on 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 Phencyclidine (PCP) in the 1960s and, hence, the first cases of ketamine addiction likely occurred among Vietnam veterans.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies ketamine as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance and is still widely used in human and veterinary medicine today. The feasibility of producing synthetic ketamine in a laboratory adds to its popularity as a street drug.

Ketamine is odorless, tasteless and is available in various forms, including as pills, powder and liquid. It can be injected, snorted, swallowed, smoked or mixed in drinks. Its amnesic effects enable its abuse as a “date rape” drug, which sexual predators slip into their victims’ drinks to make them unconscious. 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.

Ketamine abuse: side effects

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. These effects can occur within a few minutes of the drug consumption. Compared to LSD and PCP, ketamine’s hallucinogenic effects are of shorter duration and might last for up to 30 to 60 minutes, instead of several hours.

Following are some of the psychological side effects of ketamine abuse:

  • Agitation
  • Amnesia
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Unconsciousness

Following are some of the physical side effects of ketamine abuse:

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

In some cases, ketamine users can experience frightening symptoms of complete sensory detachment that causes them to feel separated from themselves and the world around them. Additionally, high doses of ketamine can increase the risk of experiencing psychosis and hallucinations.

Recovery from ketamine addiction

Being dependent on substance abuse and constant socialization is an addictive lifestyle in itself. This can result in making the drug user crave for that excitement repeatedly. As a result, the person may have to experience several physical and physiological effects in lieu of the desire to enhance the state of mind and experience euphoria. Even though the addiction potential of ketamine is not as high as that of heroin or cocaine, with less severe withdrawal effects, it does not imply that the recovery process is easy. Recovery from ketamine addiction has its own set of challenges, including the detox program and hence, consulting an expert for the same is always recommended.

Recovery from ketamine addiction encompasses a holistic approach to treating substance use disorders. Depending on the duration of the addiction and severity of symptoms, a comprehensive treatment for ketamine addiction involves a medically supervised detoxification treatment followed by intense psychotherapies and counseling sessions. While ketamine detox treatment at any of the ketamine detox centers helps in getting rid of the toxic substances as well as managing the withdrawal symptoms; psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and neurofeedback, help patients recover from ketamine addiction.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

Dual licensed and accredited by the Joint Commission, Sovereign Health’s Rancho San Diego facility provides all its patients with individualized addiction treatment programs basis their needs and symptoms. Our behavioral health facility at Rancho San Diego is equipped with the latest treatment techniques, equipment and information on new designer drugs, providing the highest level of care for teenagers aged 12 to 17 years, regardless of how simple or obscure the substance dependence may be.

Offering top-notch treatments is our forte; our team of licensed clinicians and psychiatrists provide a range of therapies, including CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), neurofeedback and cognitive remediation to help patients recover from substance addiction. Although no specific treatments are available for ketamine addiction, it is important for the patient to be aware of the nuances of addiction, and the necessary tools to fight against the triggers to lead a healthy lifestyle. In addition, patients also receive individual, group and family sessions along with evidence-based treatments and experiential therapies, such as equine therapy, art therapy, and music therapy. Our holistic approach to treatment differentiates us from other rehab centers and makes us the preferred treatment center by many.

To know more about Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego’s adolescent treatment programs for substance abuse, mental health or co-occurring disorders, connect with our admissions team through our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our trained representatives for further assistance.

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