By now, most people well know how addictive opiate- and stimulant-based drugs can be. Anyone wanting to steer clear of these highly addictive substance may opt to try one of the hallucinogen class drugs, such as ketamine.
While hallucinogens, as a group, tend to carry a low addiction potential, ketamine is the exception to the rule. Ketamine produces hallucinogenic effects like other drugs in its class, but it also shares certain similarities with other more addictive drug classes like opiates and stimulants.
Once addicted to ketamine, a person stands to experience many of the same difficulties as any other form of addiction. Understanding how the ketamine abuse cycle takes shape can help you avoid this drug’s powerful addiction potential.
Call our toll-free helpline at 800-601-3889 to ask about available treatment options.
Ketamine’s Mechanism of Action
Ketamine acts on two essential brain chemical pathways: dopamine and glutamate. Dopamine level changes play a major role in terms of a drug’s addictive potential, whereas glutamate regulates the brain’s overall electrical activity.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ketamine forces the release of large amounts of dopamine while decreasing gluatamate output, which has the effect of shutting down communications between the brain and body. When cut off from the rest of the body, the brain is free to create its own reality in the form of hallucinations.
The Process of Getting Addicted to Ketamine
Ketamine has an incredibly high potency level, with a dose as small as 60 to 125 milligrams rendering a person unconscious, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dosage levels from 30 milligrams on up greatly increase the brain’s dopamine levels, and in turn alter the brain’s reward system processes. Effects had on reward system functioning account for why getting addicted to ketamine is possible.
Brain Tolerance Level Changes
Unlike other hallucinogen drugs, the brain readily adapts to ketamine and adjusts its own chemical outputs accordingly. In effect, the brain develops an increasing tolerance for ketamine so users end up taking larger doses over time in order to keep experiencing its desired “high” effect.
Much like opiate and stimulant drug effects, rising tolerance levels essentially paves the way for a person to get addicted to ketamine.
Ketamine most resembles stimulant-based drugs like cocaine in terms of the likelihood a person will gravitate towards bingeing practices. Bingeing entails consuming multiple doses at a single sitting.
The need to binge develops out of the brain’s growing tolerance for the drug. This practice greatly speeds up the rate at which a person becomes addicted to ketamine.
Over time ketamine’s effects on the brain’s chemical system changes the way a person thinks to the point where a psychological dependence on ketamine takes shape. Psychological dependence lies at the heart of addiction, causing a person to believe he or she can’t cope with daily life without the drug’s effects.
Once psychological dependence develops, the mind’s perceived need for the drug compounds rates of drug use and ultimately forms a vicious cycle of ketamine abuse over time.