How to Help a Ketamine Addict

On This Page

Warning ketamine sign

Help for Ketamine Addicts

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic–a chemical cousin of PCP. It has the potential to lead to addiction in humans. Its popular use as a recreational drug can further increase the risk of addiction, and can hasten the emergence of long-term psychological effects, including:

  • Memory impairment.
  • Personality changes.
  • Slowed reactions.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Symptoms of psychosis.

Those who are addicted to ketamine or similar drugs – such as PCPneed to seek help to lower the risks of experiencing serious side effects as a consequence of their addiction. In addition to the effects listed above, medical complications of ketamine abuse have been reported as well. They include epigastric/upper stomach pain, liver dysfunction, gallbladder problems, kidney failure, cystitis and other urinary tract problems (Bokor and Anderson, 2014). Also because anesthesia is common with ketamine, vomiting and subsequent choking is possible. Brain damage from ketamine use was also detected during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 21 test subjects in a 2013 study.

Help is available for ketamine addiction, and professionals in addiction treatment centers are no strangers to treating these effects of ketamine. You should be able to easily find a treatment center that will help you overcome your addiction to ketamine.

Don’t let another day go by without help.
Call 1-888-744-0069 today to start living a life you love.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine’s capacity to elicit a marked euphoria, dissociation from pain, and detachment from one’s environment is a primary motivator for its abuse, and subsequent addictive potential (Gahlinger, 2004).

Ketamine was originally developed as a safer alternative to PCP to induce anesthesia prior to surgery. It continues to be used as an anesthetic–most notably in animal surgical procedures. Like many other psychoactive drugs with potential medical applications, addiction can still develop when ketamine is taken in excess, or over a long period of time.

The particular route of administration of any drug can accelerate the addiction process; ketamine is no exception. The green crystals are usually snorted but can also be smoked, quickly delivering a powerful and reinforcing punch (Inaba and Cohen, 2011). The euphoria, and the indifference to pain and environment are intensely pleasurable effects–stimulating the addict to repeat and increase the ketamine use. In other words, you go from ‘liking’ ketamine to ‘wanting more’ ketamine.

3 Stages of Addiction

Addiction to ketamine follows a trajectory not unlike other drugs of addiction. There are thought to be 3 stages of the addiction cycle (Koob et al., 2014):

  1. Binge/Intoxication Stage (“This is fun!”). This is the period of experiencing rewarding effects of ketamine, but you may also begin to want it more than other things which used to give you happiness.
  2. The Withdrawal/Negative Affect Stage (“This is not fun anymore!”). This is the stage of negative reinforcement, where you need the ketamine simply to avoid unpleasant effects associated with absence of the drug or withdrawal.
  3. The Preoccupation/Anticipation Stage (“This is bad!”) This is the stage of cravings, when your brain’s ‘brake systems’ don’t work anymore, and trying to ‘stay clean’ becomes an increasing struggle in the presence of continued stress from drug cues or ‘triggers’, such as ‘people, places, and things’.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

The major sign of ketamine addiction is simply this–you keep taking the drug regardless of its negative consequences, and cannot stop even when you want to.

Signs of ketamine addiction don’t simply involve the addicted individual. Other signs of ketamine addiction are visible in family and work obligations as well. Addiction to ketamine has the potential to leave a lot of pain, anguish, sadness, loss, and alienation in its wake.

Am I Addicted to Ketamine?

Success in life does not simply consist of having the right answers but in asking the right questions.

The following questions will help you determine whether you have a problem:

  • Do you ever get angry or feel guilty when confronted by your drug use?
  • Do you try to stop using ketamine, or cut down on your use of it without success despite numerous efforts to do so?
  • Do you need more and more ketamine to get the desired effect?
  • Do you find yourself getting increasingly depressed, while suspecting that it’s probably the “Special K”?
  • Do you find that the activities you used to love, like athletics or playing with the kids, have now taken a back seat to your ketamine use?
  • Have you had or sustained any injuries because you felt indifferent to pain while on ketamine?
  • Have you stolen ketamine from the vet’s office, or procured it through other illegal means?
  • Do you find that you live in a world of power and invincibility while on ketamine, oblivious to the real world in which you and your family have to live and survive (delusions)?

If you find your own struggles coming to mind while asking those questions, you should know that there is a way out and a way forward. Call 1-888-744-0069 to learn more.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

Treatment is not something that just happens to you, but a process which engages you in the work of your recovery.

Ketamine addiction doesn’t have to be a lifelong burden, and anyone who abuses ketamine can seek help. Ketamine addiction treatment helps you get back on track, reversing a lot of the negative brain effects associated with craving the drug, and subsequently relapsing time and time again. Successful treatment often includes family therapy–helping heal relationships impaired or broken by your ketamine addiction.

The first treatment consideration for you may revolve around the questions of residential treatment or outpatient treatment. Which one is right for you depends on your treatment needs. Here are a few considerations:

  • If you have medical complications arising from ketamine use, requiring clinical supervision or laboratory services, you should consider inpatient/residential treatment.
  • Inpatient treatment has been found to benefit those who have co-occurring personality disorders or psychiatric disorders more than outpatient treatment (Finney et al., 2009).
  • If you are experiencing problems at home, with your employment, or legal problems, inpatient treatment is a better option (Finney).
  • If you lack transportation, are homeless, or live a long distance from a treatment center, residential treatment is better than outpatient treatment (Finney). Having a place to stay, where you feel safe, with access to social services after treatment, gives you a great start to a life of happiness and recovery.

If you have a strong support system at home and minimal medical needs, outpatient treatment may work for you. This is an especially desirable option for those who are unable to continue working or to live away from home for an extended period of time. Often, outpatient treatment is used in combination with residential treatment as continuing care once the initial period of rehab ends.

Other questions frequently include “What happens in treatment?” and “Does treatment really work?”

Treatment does work. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition, like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes or asthma. Similar to other medical conditions, it is treatable and manageable. If there is a relapse back to ketamine use, this does not mean that treatment is a failure but rather that you may need more intensive treatment, a change in medication, or changes in your personal and social life. Recovery from the chronic illness of addiction is a journey, not an event, so don’t be discouraged as you navigate through your recovery.

Treatment interventions may include medication for depression or other mood disorders resulting from, or exacerbated by, ketamine addiction.

Treatment is not something that you are subjected to, but a process which engages you in the work of your recovery. It addresses your deepest needs, tapping into your strengths and enhancing your motivation. Treatment enables you to move away from the dark grip of addiction by helping you become aware of factors which led to drug dependence, and dealing with the problems that kept you there.

Group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), along with 12-Step meetings (e.g. Narcotics Anonymous), help you develop skills to avoid relapse, increase your self-efficacy (“I can do this”), and draw from the strength of others in recovery. Based on research findings, CBT and MET are among the most effective treatments for addiction (Blonigen et al., 2015). These treatment interventions are non-judgmental and non-confrontational, helping you develop the skills you need to break the bonds addiction.

Of course, recovery is a lifelong process so aftercare is an important tool that allows you to build on successes made in treatment. Specific types of aftercare programs will vary for each individual, but can range from regularly scheduled addiction counseling sessions to ongoing 12-Step meeting participation.

Call Our Hotline Today

If you’re suffering from ketamine addiction, you need to seek help, and our helpline is available 24/7 at 1-888-744-0069 . Treatment support specialists can help find you the right place to go for assistance.

You can begin a new life today.

American Addiction Centers
Treatment Facilities Nationwide
The content on is brought to you by American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide network of leading substance abuse and behavioral treatment facilities.
American Addiction Centers Facility Map
Related Articles
american addiction centers photo
Amanda Lautieri is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert for She holds a bachelor's degree and has reviewed thousands of medical articles on substance abuse and addiction.
Popular Providers