According to CESAR, “To date, identifying physical withdrawal symptoms [associated with long-term ketamine use] has been limited to only personal accounts, but research is ongoing.” When a person abuses a drug over a long period of time, it is common for them to experience some sort of withdrawal reaction, even if this merely includes intense cravings for the drug itself. However, since ketamine withdrawal has not been as well researched as other withdrawal syndromes, treatment methods for ketamine detox are not as well defined as they are for other drugs.
Still, a person can attend formal treatment for this issue or care for their condition at home (in certain cases). Making sure you understand the severity of your condition and how it can best be treated is extremely important for those about to undergo ketamine detox.
The Severity of Ketamine Withdrawal
As the ketamine withdrawal syndrome is not as well-documented as others, there may be some confusion as to how serious your symptoms, as well as the syndrome itself, will become. According to the NHTSA, “Little evidence of a physiological withdrawal syndrome [exists] unless abrupt discontinuation in chronic users” occurs.” Those who do stop their long-term use of the drug immediately might experience
- Breathing problems (including extremely rapid breathing)
- Loss or coordination
- Hearing problems
- Double vision
- Rapid heart beat
As stated by the NIDA, PCP, another dissociative drug, can cause a withdrawal syndrome that includes “craving for the drug, headaches, and sweating” which could also be experienced by the individual withdrawing from ketamine. The most important aspect to remember is that any of these symptoms could be mild or extremely intense depending on the severity of individual’s abuse, especially those such as depression and cravings. Understanding the intensity of your particular syndrome will help you decide whether you need more intensive treatment.
These facilities can provide those going through intense withdrawal syndromes with the kind of treatments they need. Patients are usually provided with medication that can help minimize the more severe symptoms and therapy sessions that treat the psychological issues of withdrawal. Detox centers often allow patients to stay for a week or more in order to work through their withdrawal syndrome with the help of medical attention.
Some patients may especially need this type of treatment as they could be experiencing severe depression and, as a result, suicidal thoughts. An inpatient detox facility would be the best environment for these individuals as they will need to be constantly monitored. Certain patients will also need to attend detox in a residential facility because they refuse to stop taking ketamine, no matter how detrimental it is to them. In this case, family members may choose to have the individual stay in the facility involuntarily for a certain amount of time.
Detox facilities also help patients who are addicted to ketamine because they are often the first step in addiction treatment. After working through these symptoms, patients will be able to attend addiction treatment. Anyone who is addicted to ketamine should attend formal addiction treatment as it not only helps to change their behavior toward the drug but minimizes their potential for relapse.
In many cases, those who only attend detox end up abusing the drug again later because, although their withdrawal symptoms may have subsided, their addictions are still strong. These facilities can be attended on an inpatient or outpatient basis, just like detox, and allow patients to heal through the use of medication and therapy sessions (both group and individually-based).
Support groups can also be a wonderful treatment method for ketamine withdrawal. For example, certain individuals do not need the intensive care for withdrawal and addiction that others do or they may need additional help after detox and addiction treatment are through. A more hands-off approach to treatment, support groups can help remind individuals why they have decided to quit abusing a drug and how they can take steps toward a better, sober life.
The DOJ states, “Teenagers and young adults represent the majority of ketamine users. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, individuals aged 12 to 25 accounted for 74 percent of the ketamine emergency department mentions in the United States in 2000.” Not all of those who abuse ketamine are heavily addicted, and that is why a treatment type that provides flexible meeting times, sponsorships for those going through particularly difficult times, and the ability to meet others who can strengthen their resolve to quit ketamine can be a great asset during detox from the drug.
Treatment At Home
There are several ways that you can treat your ketamine withdrawal issues at home with over-the-counter medications and other remedies. This should only be attempted by those individuals who do not need intensive treatment for either their ketamine withdrawal or addiction. It will be a difficult few weeks, but you can make it easier by:
- Asking someone you trust to stay with you for the duration of your detox. Having a loved one close by will make it easier to stay on track and it will also give you someone to talk to about what you are going through, which is more important to recovery than many other types of treatment.
- Trying to keep your schedule as routine as you can: going to bed on time, doing light exercise, and eating healthy foods. This kind of tight scheduling will help you recover faster.
- Even so, you may want to take a break from your more stressful activities for a while. Work, school, and other important aspects or your life can be minimized for a time while you are trying to work through your withdrawal symptoms. Just think of it as how you would take care of yourself if you were ill.
- Ask your doctor if there are any prescription or over-the-counter medications you can take to treat any intense withdrawal symptoms. For example, headaches can be treated with painkillers that are easy to buy at the store, but checking with your doctor can ensure that you choose the right kind of medication that will be less detrimental to your current condition.
Because there is no tried-and-true treatment method for ketamine detox and because the syndrome itself can differ from person to person, you should consider your needs thoroughly before choosing the best course of action for your ketamine detox treatment.