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What Is Ketamine, and Is It Dangerous?

By on Nov 30, 2023 in Addiction

Ketamine is a type of dissociative drug, which means it changes the way the brain perceives what’s really happening around you. By distorting sensory perception, it can make a person feel as if they have left their body and are in a very different environment.

This drug, which is similar to phencyclidine (PCP) in the way it impacts people, is dangerous, creating both short-term and long-term risks. Individuals who use it consistently can develop addiction and dependency as well.

How Does Ketamine Make You Feel?

Ketamine often has a hallucinogenic effect, in which it distorts perceptions of the sights and sounds around you. In some situations, it can create a sense of calm and even have a sedative quality to it. Some people use it because it can offer a break from pain. However, it can also cause immobility and a blackout-like loss of memory, making a person more at risk for sexual assault, according to the Department of Justice.

If you’ve heard of a “Special K trip,” then you may have some idea of what to expect when a person is using ketamine. Each period of use typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes, after which a person may feel ill or may struggle with health complications. Typically, the initial effects come on fast, creating a hallucinogenic feeling, and then fade away. However, some people may experience a recurrence of the hallucinations later, even several weeks after taking the drug.

What Are the Short-Term Risks of Ketamine Use?

Though some people think that just using it once isn’t a problem, ketamine can create a substantial change in your perception, and thus make you vulnerable to what is occurring around you. Ketamine may cause agitation and cognitive damage, and in some people, it can lead to amnesia, depression, and unconsciousness, with very slowed breathing. If this happens, a person could be overdosing on ketamine and need immediate medical care.

Ketamine can cause a rapid heart rate and decreased blood pressure. During that time, a person may also display rapid eye movement, tear secretions, dilated pupils, and tensing of the muscles. While most of these changes will be alleviated once the drug is no longer active in the body, it can be life-threatening if these conditions worsen other health problems, like heart disease or respiratory distress.

What Are the Long-Term Risks of Ketamine Use?

The long-term effects and risks associated with ketamine are well documented, though doctors are still working to understand why this drug causes the dissociative state it does and how recurrency of hallucinations can come on at any point, even months later.

However, long-term risks typically include the development of compulsive use and dependency. Ketamine can lead to a substance use disorder, meaning that the brain and body become dependent on the presence of the substance, and you continue to seek it out.

Also notable is that people can develop tolerance to ketamine, meaning they need to use a higher dose to get the same type of experience. In doing so, they increase their risk of overdose and life-threatening complications. When a person stops using it, they may experience extensive sleepiness, intense cravings, and depression symptoms.

Don’t overlook the cognitive and overall neurological risks that come from continued ketamine use. This drug can damage the function of the brain, leading to difficulty with cognitive functions like memory, thought processing, and concentration.

How to Get Help for Ketamine Addiction

If you are using ketamine and have experienced a desire to seek out and continue using this substance, even to an obsessive level, you may need addiction treatment. Depending on the severity of your substance use disorder, you may benefit from detoxification as a first step. This allows the body and brain to re-adjust to the lack of ketamine in the system while providing you with support for the withdrawal symptoms.

Both inpatient residential and intensive outpatient treatment may help those who have ketamine dependence, which means that long-term care is often beneficial. It allows you to learn how to maintain sobriety and take back control over your life.

Ongoing therapy and support through outpatient care is often beneficial to people as well. Outpatient care can help people improve their overall health while also creating connections with others who are going through the same type of struggle. An alumni program is another great way to foster long-term success. Let our team in Lafayette, LA, help you overcome the common barriers of addiction treatment and start on a path of recovery. Contact Victory Addiction Recovery Center now to discuss your ketamine addiction treatment needs and learn how you can start a better future.

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