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How Ketamine Dependence Can Lead to Addiction

Ketamine, one of the few hallucinogens that offer known medicinal benefits, was first developed in 1963 as an anesthetic drug. Chemically speaking, ketamine derives from phencyclidine, also known as PCP, producing weaker effects overall.

In addition to its anesthetic properties, Ketamine’s ability to cause hallucinations accounts for its popularity as a club drug. When used in this capacity, users face a high risk of developing ketamine dependence.

As with most forms of illicit drug use, ketamine has a cumulative effect on the brain’s chemical pathways, altering normal chemical processes over time. Once ketamine dependence becomes an issue, users become subject to the more dangerous aspects of the drug.

Ketamine Effects on the Body and Mind

With any one ketamine dose, the resulting “high” effects may include feelings of intoxication, an all-encompassing calm, as well as cocaine-like “speed” effects coupled with the imagery and hallucinations characteristic of cannabis. According to the University of Maryland, ketamine can produce any number of effects that vary according to dosage amount with higher dosage levels bringing on near comatose states.

This range of experiences develops out of ketamine’s ability to interfere with neurotransmitter processes in the brain. What most characterizes ketamine from other hallucinogen drugs has to do with the sense of disconnection users experience from their surrounding environments, especially when taking high dosage amounts.

Signs of Ketamine Dependence

Ketamine Dependence

Someone with a ketamine dependence will likely experience irritability and drug cravings.

With frequent ketamine abuse, the brain quickly develops a tolerance for the drug’s effects so users tend to keep increasing their dosage levels along the way. In effect, each time brain tolerance levels increase larger amounts of ketamine are needed to bring on the desired “high” effect. These interactions set the ketamine dependence cycle in motion.

With opiates and stimulant-type drugs, signs of dependence typically take the form of uncomfortable physical symptoms, commonly known as withdrawal effects. Rather than attacking the body, ketamine dependence shows up within a person’s thinking, emotions and behaviors, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to experience a sense of contentment or joy
  • Drug cravings

Addiction Potential

Regardless of the type of drug involved, once a drug’s effects start to alter a person’s character in terms of his or her behaviors and overall mindset, there’s a very real risk of becoming addicted. While the physical effects of ketamine may set the ball in motion, once a person comes to rely on the drug’s effects to cope with daily life stressors and pressures, a psychological dependence has taken root.

When left untreated, users fall into set behavior patterns that eventually turn into a lifestyle made up of habits and routines that work to drive continued drug use. At this point, a person starts to neglect important life areas, such as work, family, hygiene and physical health. Ultimately, signs of ketamine dependence become the first indication of a developing addiction problem.

If you or someone you know struggles with ketamine dependence and have more questions please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-601-3889 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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