Hallucinogens are known for their ability to induce “out-of-body” states of mind. These types of drugs have become quite popular within the party circuit. According to the University of Maryland, ketamine, one of a handful of dissociative-type hallucinogens, alters a person’s perception of time and space while inciting hallucinatory experiences.
In general, hallucinogen drugs don’t carry a high risk of dependency or addiction unless used on a regular basis. Likewise, ketamine tolerance only becomes an issue when a person engages in frequent drug use.
When ketamine tolerance does become an issue, users enter into a cycle of drug abuse that ultimately leads to addiction. In the process, the types of “highs” experienced along the way can be disturbing, some of which may resurface at any given time. Ultimately, the risks that come with ketamine tolerance endanger a person’s physical and psychological well being, as well as his or her overall safety.
Ketamine most resembles PCP, another dissociative-type hallucinogen, in its effects. Users experience altered states of consciousness that leave them completely unaware of their surroundings. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ketamine alters the way the brain’s cognitive and emotion-based processes operate, which , in turn, distorts a person’s sensory perceptions.
When ingested, ketamine triggers the release of serotonin and glutamate neurotransmitter chemicals, both of which help in regulating the brain’s cognitive functions. Ketamine tolerance develops in response to the drug’s damaging effects on the brain cells that secrete these chemicals. Over time, cell structures start to break down making them less sensitive to ketamine’s effects.
As this takes place, a person must keep ingesting larger doses in order to experience the desired “high” effects from the drug. Meanwhile, the brain gradually adjusts to ketamine’s effects by reducing the amount of neurotransmitters normally secreted by brain cells.
As with any form of drug abuse, withdrawal effects become the driving force that sustains ketamine abuse. As ketamine tolerance levels continue to rise, growing chemical imbalances impair the brain’s ability to maintain normal bodily functions.
In the process, the brain develops a physical dependency on the drug’s effects and so requires ketamine in order to maintain any semblance of normal functioning. As physical dependency grows, users start to experience withdrawal effects when needed amounts of the drug are lacking.
Withdrawal effects commonly experienced as ketamine tolerance levels rise include:
- Extreme anxiety
- Severe depression
- Psychotic-like behavior displays
Elevated Pain Threshold
Ketamine is actually a legal drug that’s commonly used as an anesthetic for humans and animals. The drug’s ability to increase glutamate chemical levels has a slowing effect on the brain’s electrical activity. In high enough doses, ketamine actually shuts down certain areas of the brain altogether.
When used for recreational purposes, this anesthetizing effect poses a considerable danger in terms of diminishing a person’s ability to feel pain sensations. Under these conditions, users can endure incredible degrees of pain without even knowing it, placing them at considerable risk of accident and serious injury.
As ketamine tolerance levels increase, a person is more likely to ingest amounts that induce this overall numbing effect.
In large enough doses, ketamine can bring on a state known as the “K-hole effect,” according to New York University-Steinhardt. Dosage amounts of 60 to 125 million when injecting and 100 to 250 milligrams can immobilize a person as well as block off any physical sensations he or she may be experiencing.
These effects can develop within 10 to 20 minutes, leaving users completely vulnerable. For these reasons, ketamine exists as one of a handful of date-rape drugs. People who develop ketamine tolerance over a period of months can easily ingest these dosage amounts as tolerance levels continue to rise with ongoing drug use.
Hallucinations experienced during a ketamine “high” can vary depending on a person’s mood, the surrounding environment and the people present. Users may have pleasurable, sometimes even transcendent-like experiences or bad experiences made up of horrifying images and disturbing themes. In effect, there’s no way to predict whether any one particular drug experience will be good or bad.
People who’ve developed ketamine tolerance will likely experience as many “bad trips” as “good trips,” if not more. As the drug’s effects gradually alter normal brain chemical processes and ketamine tolerance levels increase, distortions in cognitive processing can increase the likelihood of unpleasant hallucinations.
Over time, regular users may also start to experience flashbacks of hallucinations had when under the influence. According to Brown University Health Education, flashbacks can surface at any time and may draw from good as well as bad hallucination experiences.
While nowhere near as addictive as opiates or amphetamines, heavy ketamine use can set the stage for an addiction cycle to take root. Much like other forms of drug abuse, the chemical imbalances caused by regular ketamine use creates a state of physical dependency within the brain’s chemical system.
Before long, chemical imbalances start to “short circuit” the brain’s reward system, at which point a psychological dependency on the drug forms. All along the way, ketamine tolerance increases drive the ongoing damage that takes place.
People with high ketamine tolerance levels are at greatest risk of addiction. Signs of a growing addiction include:
- Loss of interest in otherwise enjoyable activities
- Neglecting friends and family
- Isolative behaviors
- Problems at work or loss of a job
- Money problems
- Legal problems due to criminal and/or reckless undertakings
Once addiction sets in, a person’s life starts to bottom-out fairly quickly, with circumstances growing increasingly worse with continued drug use.
Ketamine effects on glutamate and serotonin neurotransmitter levels impacts many of the body’s major systems. In large enough does, ketamine can actually shutdown a person’s respiratory and/or circulatory systems, at which point overdose and even death can result.
The dangers associated with ketamine tolerance should not be taken lightly considering the widespread damage this drug causes in the brain. Minimizing noticeable changes in one’s appearance, demeanor and/or behaviors only postpones the inevitable need for professional treatment help.
As ketamine tolerance levels will continue to increase for as long as a person keeps using, the sooner a person gets needed treatment help the better.