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What are the Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Abuse on My Teenager?

Today’s fast-paced world leaves teenagers to contend with any number of challenges and temptations while having to manage the physical and emotional changes taking place inside their own lives. Under these conditions, it can be easy for a teen to turn to drugs as a way to cope with everyday pressures. Ketamine, one of a handful of dissociative-type hallucinogens, has become a popular recreational drug commonly used by teens who actively engage in the “party scene.”

With frequent ketamine abuse teens open themselves up to a range of damaging effects, some of which can be long-term in nature. While hallucinogens as a group typically carry a low risk for abuse and addiction, frequent ketamine abuse does come with a high risk for addiction, which makes teenagers even more so susceptible to the long-term effects of the drug.

Ketamine Effects

Ketamine is best known for its ability to produce unusual hallucinatory experiences and “out-of-body” sensations. These effects stem from ketamine’s interactions within the brain’s chemical system.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ketamine disrupts the brain’s electrical activity, cutting off all incoming information from the body to the brain, which can leave users in a comatose-like state. Over time, ketamine abuse not only has adverse effects on a teen’s psychological well-being, but can also cause serious health problems down the road.

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Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Psychological Effects

Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Delusional thinking and personality changes are potential long-term effects of ketamine abuse.

The teenage years encompass a transitional period of growth and development placing teens in a state of ongoing physical and emotional change. Ketamine’s ability to interfere with fundamental brain chemical processes can cause serious long-term problems for those who engage in ketamine abuse on a frequent basis.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, long-term psychological effects associated with ketamine abuse run the spectrum and can vary from person to person, some of which include:

  • Impaired memory functions
  • Tendencies towards social withdrawal
  • Ongoing sleep problems
  • Delusional thinking
  • Changes in personality
  • Lethargy

Ultimately, the longer a teen continues to engage in ketamine abuse the more severe these effects become.


While regular ketamine users seldom experience actual physical-type withdrawal effects from the drug, the way the body metabolizes ketamine causes considerable damage to the bladder and urinary tract. According to BJU International, ketamine byproducts have toxic effects, causing widespread cell damage in the bladder that can develop into long-term health problems for teens.

Over time, damage to the bladder and urinary tract causes eventual tissue death and overall structural damage. With continued ketamine abuse, teenagers can develop serious bladder problems that compromise both kidney and bladder functions causing urinary incontinence issues down the road.

Teenage Ketamine-Alcohol Fatality Risks & the Need for Treatment


Perhaps the greatest threat to a teen’s ability to avoid the long-term effects of ketamine abuse has to do with the drug’s addiction potential. As with other types of addictive drugs, the brain quickly develops a tolerance for ketamine, which drives teens to keep increasing their dosage amounts with ongoing use.

Ketamine also interferes with the brain’s reward system functions, the area most involved in the addiction process. In effect, teens come to rely on ketamine to cope with daily life stressors as addiction takes hold, which drives the compulsive drug-using behaviors that characterize addiction.

If you suspect your teen may be struggling with ketamine abuse and have more questions, or need helping finding a treatment program, 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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