Ketamine’s classification as a “designer drug” has made for a popular recreational drug within raves and nightclub scenes. As one of a handful of dissociative-based hallucinogen drugs, ketamine produces more than a few atypical effects when compared to other hallucinogens.
Unlike the majority of hallucinogenic drugs, regular ketamine use does come with a high risk for addiction. Being able to spot signs of a developing ketamine addiction better equips you to avoid the pitfalls that come with an out-of-control drug problem.
Ketamine’s Interactions in the Brain
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ketamine’s ability to force the brain to produce copious amounts of glutamate and dopamine neurotransmitter chemicals accounts for its hallucinatory effects.
These interactions essentially shut down communications between the brain and the body, allowing a person to enter into an altered state of consciousness where his or her perceptions, thoughts and emotions can interact with a self-made reality.
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4 Signs of a Developing Ketamine Addiction
Ketamine’s chemical makeup integrates easily within the brain’s chemical system as the brain readjusts its own chemical processes to accommodate ketamine’s effects. According to Pennsylvania State University, ketamine also as a short elimination half-life of two hours, at which point half of the amount ingested has already been fully metabolized.
These characteristics enable the brain to tolerate ketamine effects at a fast rate. As tolerance levels rise, a person must keep taking larger doses to experience the drug’s desired “high” effects. Consequently, increasing tolerance levels set the ketamine addiction cycle in motion.
Ketamine holds true to form as a hallucinogen in that it doesn’t typically produce physical withdrawal. However, frequent ketamine use does produce an emotional-type withdrawal due to its effects on the areas of the brain that regulate thinking and emotions. These changes mark the beginnings of a developing ketamine addiction. Symptoms commonly experienced during withdrawal:
- Feelings of depression
- Bouts of anxiety
- Frequent mood swings
- Inability to experience any sense of satisfaction or contentment
3. Bingeing Behaviors
The brain’s ability to tolerate ketamine’s effects coupled with the need to gain relief from uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can drive a person to keep increasing his or dosage amounts at a fast rate. Before long, ketamine use turns into the type of bingeing behaviors that characterize cocaine addictions. In effect, a person must ingest multiple doses of ketamine at a single sitting in order to experience a “high.” At this point, ketamine addiction has likely taken hold.
4. Lifestyle Effects
Once a full-blown ketamine addiction develops, a person’s habits and behaviors change in noticeable ways to the point where getting and using the drug has taken top priority in a person’s life at the expense of other major life areas. Lifestyle effects to watch out for include:
- Problems at work, or employment loss
- Decline in grooming and hygiene
- Change in social group
- Loss of interest in normally enjoyed pursuits
- Money problems
- Legal problems
- Relationship conflicts
When left unattended, ketamine addiction can take over a person’s life just like any other form of addiction. If you suspect you or someone you know may be at risk of developing ketamine addiction, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-601-3889 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.