It’s not uncommon for young people to gravitate towards hallucinogenic drugs in an effort to avoid the dangers of addiction. As a group, hallucinogens tend to carry a lower addiction potential. This is not the case with ketamine.
Along with it’s high addiction potential, ketamine abuse comes with certain hidden dangers, one of which is the K-Hole effect. Considering ketamine’s intended purpose is as an anesthetic, frequent ketamine use has the potential to cause widespread damage, both physical and psychological.
Effects of Ketamine Abuse and the K-Hole Experience
One of the most dangerous aspects of ketamine abuse lies in the drug’s ability to slow the brain’s electrical activity and shut down communications between the brain and body. According to British Journal of Pharmacology, ketamine does this by increasing glutamate neurotransmitter production rates.
Ketamine also increases dopamine neurotransmitter production. In effect, elevated dopamine levels act as the key driver for a developing addiction.
These interactions combined set the stage for the K-Hole experience. With a K-Hole episode, the anesthetic effects of the drug are at work, producing the following effects:
- Feeling disconnected from one’s body
- Inability to interact with your surrounding environment
- Loss of verbal abilities
- Comatose-like state
Tolerance Level Increases
Unlike most other hallucinogens, the brain’s tolerance for ketamine develops at a fast rate. As tolerance levels rise, your ability to experience the drug’s desired effects fades, so larger doses of the drug are needed to get “high” over time.
With ketamine tolerance levels rising so quickly, users have to resort to bingeing practices where multiple doses of the drug must be ingested at a time, according to the University of Maryland. This practice in and of itself makes it that much easier for a K-Hole episode to spin out of control.
Ketamine doses as small as two milligrams can bring on a K-Hole episode. The drug’s ability to interfere with glutamate production rates sets off a chain reaction, altering other vital neurotransmitter systems in the brain.
Consequently, ketamine abuse can produce a range of side effects brought on by growing brain chemical imbalances. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, K-Hole side effects may take the form of:
- Respiratory failure
- Elevated heart rates
- Stiffening of the muscles
Not surprisingly, the repeated fluctuations in brain chemistry that come with ketamine abuse place users at considerable risk of developing mental health problems. Much like the rising tolerance level effects, psychological dysfunction grows increasingly worse with continued drug use.
What starts out as fleeting bouts of depression or anxiety can eventually evolve into full-blown depression disorder, anxiety disorder or even schizophrenia.
While ketamine may not produce the types of physical withdrawal effects seen in opiate and cocaine addiction, it does produce psychological withdrawal. Psychological withdrawal develops out of a growing “mental” dependence on ketamine’s effects to cope with daily life stressors.
In essence, psychological dependence lies at the heart of an addiction problem.
If you or someone you know struggles with ketamine abuse and are considering getting treatment help, please don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 800-601-3889 to speak with one of our addiction counselors.