As one of many hallucinogen drug types, ketamine exists as one of three well-known substances that fall within the dissociative category of hallucinogen drugs. Hallucinogen drugs produce altered states of consciousness in various ways, depending on the parts of the brain affected by any one drug type.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, dissociative drugs like ketamine, PCP and magic mushrooms are known for their ability to produce “out-of-body” experiences by altering the way the brain processes sensory information. While not nearly as addictive as opiate and stimulant drug classes, using ketamine on a frequent basis does come with a risk of addiction.
Once addicted to ketamine, a person starts to think and behave differently as a result of the drug’s damaging effects on brain function. Without ketamine addiction treatment, addicts will continue to see considerable decline in their ability to function normally in everyday life.
Ketamine addiction treatment works to undo the damage brought on by ongoing drug use. Without needed ketamine addiction treatment, the likelihood of developing serious brain damage remains high.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be struggling with addiction, here are eight signs that warrant getting ketamine addiction treatment help –
1. Needing to Take Larger Doses
The dissociative state brought on by ketamine results from the drug’s ability to increase glutamate and serotonin neurotransmitter production in the brain. With each dose of ketamine, the drug stimulates certain brain cell sites, which release glutamate and serotonin in copious amounts.
With repeated use, these interactions overwork cell sites, leaving them in a weakened state. Over time, users will have to keep increasing drug dosage amounts in order to experience the expected “high” effect. Meanwhile, the brain’s tolerance for ketamine continues to rise for as long as a person keeps taking the drug.
For these reasons, ketamine addiction treatment entails a process by which brain functions have a chance to heal while a person develops much needed coping skills for living life without the need for drugs.
2. Physical Withdrawal Signs
Over time, elevated levels of neurotransmitter chemicals gradually offset the brain’s delicate chemical balance. As chemical imbalances worsen, the brain loses its ability to maintain the body’s various physical processes. When this happens, a person starts to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Someone experiencing withdrawal signs on a regular basis has developed a physical dependency on the drug. With continued drug use, withdrawal signs grow increasingly more severe and start to happen on a more frequent basis. At this point, the need for ketamine addiction treatment becomes more so apparent.
Some entering ketamine addiction treatment will have likely experienced the following withdrawal symptoms on a frequent basis over the course of several months –
- Muscle stiffness
- Changes in appetite
- Shakiness or tremors
- Noticeable changes in body temperature
- Elevated heart rate
3. Elevated Pain Threshold
Ketamine’s intended purpose works as an anesthetic for both humans and animals. In effect, ketamine all but shuts down specific areas of the brain, particularly areas that regulate cognition and pain sensations.
Consequently, someone in need of ketamine addiction treatment has developed an unusually high tolerance for pain, according to Brown University Health Education. Feelings of numbness as well as feeling detached from one’s surrounding environment also start to develop.
4. Psychological Signs
Ketamine’s effects on glutamate and serotonin chemical levels can cause considerable psychological distress and dysfunction in those who most need ketamine addiction treatment. Glutamine works to regulate electrical activity in the brain, while serotonin regulates cognitive functions.
In increased amounts, these chemicals distort a person’s sensory perceptions and cognitive/emotional processing. According to Bryn Mawr College, these combined effects bring on a range of adverse psychological effects, some of which include –
- Frequent and extreme mood swings
- Incoherent speech
- Feelings of panic
In the absence of ketamine addiction treatment, these symptoms worsen over time leaving addicts incapable of managing daily life affairs.
5. Behavioral Signs
Over time, ketamine’s effects create a type of diseased chemical environment in the brain. After a certain point, these imbalances start to alter the actual brain structures as well as reconfigure how the brain works.
Behavioral signs of ketamine addiction indicate changes taking place within a person’s overall psychological make-up as the brain’s cognitive and emotional centers continue to see steady declines in function. Behaviors warranting ketamine addiction treatment typically include –
- Mental confusion
- Persistent anxiety
- Moderate to severe depression symptoms
- Violent behavior displays
- Feeling tense or restless
Once a person starts exhibiting behavioral signs of addiction, ketamine addiction treatment is most definitely needed.
6. Diminished Functional Capacity
Perhaps the most harmful effects of ketamine addiction have to do with the overall decline in functional capacity exhibited by someone addicted to the drug. Flooding the brain with abnormally large amounts of neurotransmitters on a continuous basis has a deteriorating effect on brain structures, neural pathways as well as central nervous system functions.
Diminished functioning may take the form of –
- Impaired motor coordination
- A decrease in learning and memory capabilities
- Loss impulse control
- Decline in communication skills
People in need of ketamine addiction treatment often develop considerable brain damage after months or years of drug abuse. In some cases, damage may be long-term or even permanent.
7. Residual Effects
After experiencing so many drug “trips,” the brain loses its ability to fully recover from ketamine’s effects. Under these conditions, a person will continue to experience mild degrees of sensory distortion on a random basis, also known as residual effects.
Residual effects warranting ketamine addiction treatment include:
- Feeling phantom skin sensations, such as bugs crawling
- Hearing imagined sounds
- Seeing things that aren’t there
- Experiencing flashbacks of past hallucinations
8. Lifestyle Signs
By the time a person starts exhibiting signs of addiction in his or her daily lifestyle, the need for ketamine addiction treatment will have become glaringly obvious. Lifestyle signs affect a person’s quality of life and overall sense of well-being.
Lifestyle signs to watch out for include –
- Job loss
- Missing days from work
- Divorce, broken family relationships
- Financial problems
- Problems with the law
An addict’s quality of life will continue to see decline without needed treatment help.