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Ketamine Addiction: The Potential for Dependency and the Effects of Abuse

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Ketamine is a drug that has very little practical application, and often is discussed more in the context of abuse and addiction than as a substance employed medically. Its effects have proven to be helpful for some patients and animal surgeries but illicit use occurs often. One brand name for ketamine is Ketalar, and other names like LidoProfen and MKO Troche are brand names for mixes of substances that contain ketamine.

Because the effect of ketamine is often seen as desirable or pleasant, the risk for abuse is high. Ketamine can be acquired illicitly through illegal manufacturing, or obtained illegally from veterinary offices. However it might be obtained, ketamine misuse can lead to dangerous symptoms or even overdose.

What Type of Drug Is Ketamine?

Medically, doctors apply ketamine as an anesthetic, which means it primarily sedates or treats pain. In small doses or in situations where supplies are limited, ketamine can be used as a short-term anesthetic for surgeries. Usually, if ketamine is used.-,Intramuscular%20and%20intravenous%20forms%20of%20ketamine%20are%20commonly%20used%20to%20provide,which%20can%20reduce%20the%20adverse%20psychological%20symptoms%20that%20occur%20during%20emergence.,-%5B4%5D%20Off) at all, it’s applied in conjunction with benzodiazepines (often called benzos), which are usually used to curb anxiety symptoms. Benzos can reduce the negative effects that sometimes occur with ketamine administration.

While it is used as a sedative in medical applications, ketamine’s actual classification is a hallucinogen. It creates a kind of dissociative state and altered reality for people who take it. It can create a feeling of being out of one’s own body. Other ketamine use symptoms can include:

  • Unconsciousness

  • Trouble thinking clearly

  • Change in mental state, resulting in paranoia or other mental delusions

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Erratic eye movements

When taken, ketamine takes action in the brain, affecting many of the same receptors that opioid painkillers do. While it does affect the same receptors, it produces a slightly different effect, and also is processed by the body quicker. These unique characteristics make it valuable for some experimental treatments.

However, the effects of ketamine don’t last particularly long. This makes the substance valuable in scenarios where short emergency procedures need to be done. Beyond that, ketamine rarely sees medical use.

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Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine’s popularity as a recreational drug begs the question of its potential for addiction. The hallucinogenic effect and the sedation seems desirable to some, but can addiction truly develop?

Physical Dependence vs. Psychological Dependence

While the substance can be dangerous to abuse, its actual status as an addictive substance is unclear. Usually, substances are addictive due to the fact that physical dependence develops as a person continues to abuse it. Physical dependence is responsible for causing withdrawal symptoms, and those painful symptoms often drive individuals to continue abusing a substance. However, there doesn’t seem to be any concrete evidence that physical dependence to ketamine can develop.

So physical dependence may be unlikely or even impossible to occur, but does that mean ketamine addiction won’t develop? It may be true that physical dependence is unlikely, but psychological dependence is a strong possibility. Someone who uses ketamine may continue taking it for the pleasant feeling that they experience while high.

Consciously or unconsciously, that person could start feeling like they can’t function without a regular dose of the drug. In this context, ketamine addiction can occur, and repeated use of the drug might result in other risks.

Continued or unmonitored abuse of ketamine can put someone at risk of an overdose, and can also increase the risk of adverse symptoms. In medical applications, the dose sizes are controlled carefully so the worst of the symptoms are nothing more than unpleasant. Without a controlled dose, however, the effects of ketamine use can be significantly more unpleasant, even dangerous, resulting in more serious symptoms or even an overdose:

  • Decreased or stopped breathing

  • Seizures

  • Low blood pressure

  • Decreased heart rate

  • Heart attack

  • Coma

Long-term ketamine misuse or addiction can result in serious damage to organs over time, which can be life-threatening. In serious cases of ketamine overdose, it can also be fatal. Misusing any substance brings more risk than it’s worth.

Without a controlled dose, the effects of ketamine use can be significantly more unpleasant, even dangerous.

Know When To Reach Out

Ketamine can have limited use in the medical field. Mostly used when supplies are limited or when an emergency procedure needs to occur, the substance can be helpful as a short-term anesthetic. Additionally, it can be a valuable tool for veterinarians treating animals or performing surgery on pets.

However, the sensations that ketamine produces can be seen as desirable, and many misuse the substance.

While the drug isn’t particularly likely to cause physical dependence, the cycle of use and craving can put individuals into a psychological dependence, leading to addiction. If you think you or a loved one is suffering from ketamine addiction or another type of substance addiction, contact us today. It’s never too soon to start working towards recovery.