People who favor hallucinogens over the more commonly used opiate and stimulant-based drugs can take some comfort in knowing most hallucinogens carry a low addiction potential, but this hardly means that such drug use is safe. While ketamine exists as one of a handful of dissociative hallucinogens, it nonetheless carries a high risk for abuse and addiction.
Like most any other form of addiction, ketamine addiction develops over time based on how often it’s used and in what amounts. Unlike other types of addictive drugs, ketamine addiction takes its greatest toll on the mind rather than the body. Once ketamine addiction takes over, the need for treatment becomes more and more obvious with each passing day.
Ketamine’s classification as a dissociative drug stems from its ability to “disconnect” communication lines between the body and the brain. According to New York University at Steinhardt, it does this by blocking glutamate production processes in the brain.
Glutamate, a primary neurotransmitter chemical, regulates electrical activity in terms of how quickly brain cells process incoming information. Subsequently, most all incoming and outgoing information from the brain to the body is cut off, which accounts for the near comatose states users enter into while under the influence. In the process, the brain is left to create a reality all its own in the form of hallucinations.
Ketamine is one of the few hallucinogen drugs that carries a high tolerance potential in terms of how quickly the brain adapts to the drug’s effects. According to Pennsylvania State University, the brain and body metabolize ketamine quickly so it only produces short-term effects.
Before long, users have to ingest increasingly larger doses in order to experience the desired “high” effect. These developments set the ketamine tolerance cycle in motion as more frequent drug use evolves into bingeing behavior where a person ingests multiple doses at a time. Each of these effects contributes to ketamine’s addiction potential.
Ketamine addiction has more to do with the drug’s effects on the mind than the body. While ketamine doesn’t necessarily produce withdrawal effects or physical dependency, it does produce psychological dependency, leaving users unable to cope with daily life pressures without the drug’s effects.
Under these conditions, signs of ketamine addiction tend to show up in a person’s behaviors and overall lifestyle rather than his or her physical condition. Signs to watch out for include:
- Decline in work performance or loss of employment
- Relationship conflicts surrounding drug use
- Money problems
- A growing obsession with getting and using ketamine
- Loss of interest in once enjoyed activities
- Difficulties with focus and concentration
- Muddled thinking
- Experiencing flashbacks episodes from past drug “trips”
With frequent drug use, ketamine’s dissociative effects start to linger leaving users feeling detached from everyday life. As this state intensifies, a person will likely start to isolate from others and ultimately live a diminishing quality of life.
If you suspect you or someone you know struggles with ketamine addiction and need help finding treatment programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-601-3889(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.