Ketamine is not a drug you can easily get from a doctor. It is usually obtained through illegal diversions from legitimate sources or via smugglers into the United States. In 1999, it was listed as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
While it has been considered a relatively safe drug for use in human and veterinarian medicine, ketamine abuse is occurring at alarming rates and those seeking treatment for ketamine dependency and withdrawals are relatively increasing.
Ketamine is commonly abused for its ability to produce euphoria, dissociative sensations, and hallucinations. It elicits the sense of freedom or out of the body sensations described as “floating”.
The emergence of ketamine abuse began shortly after it was marketed and gained momentum among dance parties, club scenes, and underground subcultures. Ketamine is often used in combination with other drugs and to “top up” or shift the stimulant effects of ecstasy.
Ketamine can be snorted, injected, or smoked on leafy substances such as marijuana or tobacco, and sometimes is dissolved in alcohol or other liquids to drink.
According to an article published in the Journal of Psychiatric Drugs and made available through the National Institutes of Health, “many regular ketamine injectors initiated their injecting careers with ketamine, and had no prior experience injecting “hard drugs,” such as heroin or cocaine.”
Ketamine dependence involves cravings for the drug after a developed tolerance. Those using ketamine regularly will experience varying symptoms of withdrawals with increasing severity depending on frequency, amounts, and methods of use.
Reports of psychological dependence are well documented with ketamine abusers, but, for the most part, physical dependence has been considered insignificant in comparison.
Physical Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical withdrawal symptoms from ketamine usually last a couple of days and are less severe than withdrawals from other drugs such as heroin or methamphetamines. However, some individuals may be predisposed to complications due to impaired physical health and certain conditions can be dangerous.
Physical withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Irregular heart rate or blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Lack of motor skills
- Double vision
- Hearing loss
- Decreased appetite
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
The psychological impairments from Ketamine abuse can have long term effects and psychological withdrawal symptoms range from a wide array of mental health instability to behavioral issues that are bizarre, violent, and uncontrollable.
Psychological withdrawals symptoms may include:
- Intense cravings
- Suicidal or violent tendencies
- Aggression and hostility
- Schizophrenia-like behaviors