Ketamine’s growing popularity has led to a rise in addiction and related health issues. Some government figures show that almost 1% of British adults had used ketamine in 2022 alone.
If you suspect a loved one is addicted to ketamine and you’re worried about them, rest assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as recovery can be overcome with the right education and support.
What is ketamine addiction?
Ketamine, also known as ket, K, special K, KitKat and super K, is a dissociative drug that causes a detachment from reality. It triggers the release of the brain’s chemicals and produces auditory and visual distortion. It is often taken to heighten mood or suppress bad emotions, and can be taken either orally or can be injected.
Trying to use ketamine to ‘self-medicate’ a mood disorder can drastically increase the chances of developing a ketamine addiction, a disorder which causes the user to rely on the drug both mentally and physically. Ketamine addiction can lead to some serious physical and psychological consequences. The profound dissociative effects of ketamine use can result in distressing effects over time.
Why is ketamine addictive
Ketamine releases neurotransmitters into the brain, and too many of them can alter the brain’s normal functions. Excessive use of this drug can lead to addiction and dependence. Because of its affordable price, more people may become addicted to it.
What causes ketamine addiction?
People can become addicted to ketamine for various reasons; however, genetics and the surrounding environment can play a significant role:
- Genetics: Some people were born with specific genes that make them predisposed to developing an addiction
- Surrounding environment: Being surrounded by family or peers who misuse substances and traumatic life experiences or events can increase the chances of developing an addiction
Ketamine abuse’s short-term effects depend on various factors, such as weight, health, history of drug use, the amount taken and the strength of the drug.
Common side effects of ketamine addiction include:
- Confusion and clumsiness
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Lowered sensitivity to pain
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Feeling detached from your body (‘falling into a k-hole’)
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
Long-term ketamine abuse can cause severe consequences for the mind and body. Some of these effects can include:
- Relationship, financial or work-related issues
- Abdominal cramps, known as ‘K cramps’
- Difficulty smelling
- Liver damage
- Damage to the veins which may result in abscesses
- Long-term bladder and urinary tract problems, sometimes resulting in your bladder needing to be surgically removed
- Mental health problems like schizophrenia, drug-induced psychosis and flashbacks
- Respiratory arrest
- Heart problems
- Permanent brain damage, resulting in memory, concentration and thinking problems
Can you overdose on ketamine?
Ketamine overdose is possible, though usually not fatal. However, if mixed with alcohol, opiates and amphetamines, chances of fatal overdose increase.
Signs of overdose include:
- Inability to move due to rigid muscles
- High blood pressure
- Fast heartbeat
- Unconsciousness and ‘near death’ experiences
If someone is showing signs of an overdose, call 999 immediately.
How do I know if I am addicted to ketamine?
It can be challenging to spot ketamine addiction in others due to the nature of the disease. However, the following side effects are common among users:
- Wanting to stop but not being able to
- Intense cravings
- Withdrawal symptoms if ketamine is not regularly taken
- Not being able to uphold responsibilities in relationships or at work
- Being secretive or defensive about drug-taking
- New legal or financial troubles
- Social withdrawal
- Change in social circles
- Changes in appetite
- New health issues
- Memory loss
- Uncharacteristic mood swings
- Exacerbation of mental health issues
- Loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy
Is there help available for my ketamine addiction?
Battling ketamine addiction can feel lonely but remember, you’re not alone. At Oasis Bradford, we offer high-quality care and support along the way. Our clinic is based in Bradford and offers both ketamine detox and ketamine rehab to address both aspects of your reliance on ketamine.
At Oasis Bradford, we pride ourselves in helping people with addiction, and have done since 2009. We aim to create a safe and supportive environment for clients and families.
Contact Oasis Bradford today to learn about how we can help you with your ketamine addiction and start your journey to a better life.