- Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Abuse
- What Are the Effects of Abuse?
- Combining with Other Substances
- How is Ketamine Abuse Diagnosed?
- Who is at Risk for Ketamine Addiction?
- When to Seek Help
- Help for Addicted Friends and Family
- Ketamine Rehab and Treatment Options
- Outpatient programs
- Teen Ketamine Abuse and Addiction
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine, a powerful anesthetic often used in veterinary medicine, saw its first surge in popularity in the 1970s, and since that time, has steadily come into and out of fashion as a recreational drug every few years.
It's increasingly less common in medical settings, but its legal status as an anesthetic has made it easier for some addicts to continue accessing this dangerous drug.
Signs and Symptoms of Ketamine Abuse
Ketamine is an anesthetic, which means that it slows down reaction times, depresses activity in the brain and spinal cord, and often causes memory loss. These side effects are also the factors that make it a popular date rape drug.
Some other signs of ketamine use include:
- Loss of muscle control.
- Sudden changes in behavior.
- Sluggish, apathetic, or negligent behavior.
- Difficulty remembering recent events.
- Frequently disappearing to use ketamine.
- Changes in academic or job performance.
- Seeming detached from reality.
- Difficulty talking or concentrating.
55% of rape victims are drugged at the time of the rape and a significant portion of them have taken ketamine.
Ketamine is one of the most popular and accessible date rape drugs. It's also extremely difficult to detect that you've been drugged with ketamine. However, ketamine's uses aren't just limited to date rapes.
What Are the Effects of Abuse?
Ketamine is an extraordinarily dangerous drug, and even a single use has the power to get a user hooked. It's easy to overdose on, and even "proper" use of the drug results in markedly diminished physical, intellectual and emotional capacity.
Some of the most common effects of ketamine use include:
- Sexual victimization.
- Loss of memories.
- Changes in finances.
- On-the-job difficulties.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Insomnia without ketamine.
- Changes in mental health.
- Accidental overdose.
- Coma, stroke and sudden death.
- Changes in muscle tone or an increase in muscle weakness.
- Low blood pressure.
- Chronic, unexplained gastrointestinal problems.
- Believing things that aren't true (delusions).
- Seeing things that aren't there (hallucinations).
- Chronic fatigue.
- Decreased immunity.
- Increased dependence on ketamine.
Combining with Other Substances
Mixing ketamine with any other drug is an extraordinarily dangerous undertaking.In medical settings, ketamine is often mixed with other drugs to increase drowsiness or prolong the effects of anesthesia. When used recreationally, though, the sophisticated technology that doctors have is not available, which means that mixing ketamine with any other drug is an extraordinarily dangerous undertaking.
Users who take ketamine alongside sleeping pills, painkillers or depressants such as alcohol may experience:
- Difficulty breathing.
- A dangerous drop in blood pressure.
- Cardiac arrest.
If you try to counteract the effects of ketamine by taking stimulant drugs or amphetamine, you can experience:
- Dangerous heart arrhythmia.
- Psychotic behavior.
- Accidental overdose.
How is Ketamine Abuse Diagnosed?
Who is at Risk for Ketamine Addiction?
Doctors, veterinarians and other medical professionals who regularly have access to ketamine are more likely to become addicts, especially when they face other addiction risk factors.
Some other risk factors for addiction include:
- Addiction in your family: This involves learning how to cope through modeling and social influence, along with a genetic predisposition to addictive disorders.
- Stress and dysfunction: People in bad marriages, those living in poverty, and anyone facing chronic stress are more likely to become addicts.
- Mental illness: Some people turn to drugs in order to alleviate the symptoms of mental health problems.
- A history of trauma: Domestic violence, child abuse, or rape.
Of course, the single most significant ketamine addiction risk factor is using ketamine. Frequent use of the drug almost inevitably leads to addiction, and some users are shocked by how quickly they grow dependent on this potentially dangerous substance.
When to Seek Help
There is no safe level of ketamine use, and if you're using ketamine to get high, you're breaking the law. Thus, the best time to seek treatment for a ketamine addiction is today since the ongoing danger of addiction means that tomorrow might never come.
Many ketamine addicts struggle to admit that they have a problem. If you've continued using ketamine in spite of the risks, though, it's a sure sign you need help.
Some other symptoms that it's time to seek help include:
- Doing things you regret while under the influence of ketamine or in an attempt to get ketamine.
- Ignoring people you love in favor of ketamine.
- Neglecting your job, education, or favorite hobbies because of ketamine.
- Using ketamine to cope with mental or physical illness.
- Experiencing ketamine-related health, financial, or legal difficulties.
- Loved ones asking you to please seek help.
- Driving while under the influence of ketamine.
- Difficulty feeling "normal" without ketamine.
- Endangering yourself or people you love because of ketamine.
Help for Addicted Friends and Family
If someone you love is an addict, it is their responsibility to seek treatment. You can't save him or her, and forcing an addict into treatment is a recipe for disaster.
Knowing that addiction is a disease, though, can help you be more sympathetic to the challenges your loved one faces. No one wants to be an addict, but the pain of withdrawal can be daunting. If your loved ones suffer from mental illness, trauma, or ongoing stress, he or she may wonder how to survive without ketamine.
Treatment saves lives every day, so the very best thing you can do for your loved one is encourage them to seek treatment. Offer your unconditional love and support, but don't become an enabler. Giving an addict money, a place to stay, or drugs when he or she is unwilling to get sober only makes it easier to be an addict.
When addiction is easy, addicts have little incentive to seek the treatment they so desperately need. It can be hard to reject the pleas for help of someone you love, and you don't have to kick your loved one to the curb. But "helping" an addict is often harmful.
Ketamine Rehab and Treatment Options
If you're worried that you might be an addict, don't waste precious time delaying treatment. Ketamine addiction gets worse over time, but a vast array of treatment options can help you recover.
Inpatient Treatment Options
If you can't afford rehab or prefer to try a less drastic measure, you're in luck. Outpatient care can be extraordinarily effective, especially when you try several different programs at once. Your treatment options include:
Teen Ketamine Abuse and Addiction
Teens and young adults are more likely to try ketamine than any other age group, but the use of the drug remains relatively low. About 2% of 12th graders have used the drug at least once, and less than 1% report using it in the last month.
Ketamine is highly addictive for teenagers, whose brains and bodies are not fully developed and who can suffer permanent neurological deficits as a result of ketamine use.
If you care about a teen who is addicted to ketamine, know that you can't punish or bribe him or her into getting clean. The only option is drug treatment, which not only helps get a teen clean, but also works to counteract any developmental effects of ketamine, such as memory loss or difficulty controlling emotions. Parents must act quickly to get help for their children, even if that means earning a child's anger.