Mental Health

Is Ketamine Addictive?

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, sold under the brand name Ketalar and many others is a dissociative injected anesthetic that has been available by prescription in the U.S. since the 1970s for human and veterinary uses. Esketamine (Spravato), the S-enantiomer of racemic ketamine, was approved in 2019 for treatment-resistant depression and is approved for use in depressed patients with acute suicidal ideation or behavior. Ketaset is the brand name of a surgical anesthesia used by veterinarians.

Dissociative drugs can lead to distortion of sights, colors, sounds, self, and one’s environment. Ketamine is available in a clear liquid or off-white powder form for intravenous injection or as a nasal spray. Examples of other dissociative drugs include phencyclidine (PCP) and dextromethorphan (DXM).

In the U.S., ketamine is classified as a schedule III drug under the DEA Controlled Substances Act; however, it is not classified as an opioid (narcotic) or barbiturate.

What does ketamine feel like?

Ketamine is a general anaesthetic so it reduces sensations in the body. Trips can last for a couple of hours.

Taking ketamine can make you feel:

  • dream-like and detached
  • chilled, relaxed and happy
  • confused and nauseated

Ketamine can also:

  • alter your perception of time and space and make you hallucinate (see or hear things that aren’t there)
  • stop you feeling pain, putting you at risk of hurting yourself and not realising it

If you take too much ketamine, you may lose the ability to move and go into a ‘k-hole’. This feels like your mind and body have separated and you can’t to do anything about it – which can be a very scary experience.

Regular ketamine use can cause:

  • agitation
  • panic attacks
  • damage to short- and long-term memory
  • depression, if taken frequently

How does it make people behave?

It can make people seem slower, more relaxed and chilled out, but it can also stop people from being able to move properly and from making sense.

Is ketamine addictive?

Yes. People who become addicted to ketamine will keep taking it – whether they’re aware of the health risks or not. Others will attend drug treatment services to help them stop.

People who use ketamine regularly can develop a tolerance to it, which could lead to them taking even more to get the effects they’re looking for. There are no physical withdrawal symptoms with ketamine, so ketamine addiction is sometimes called a psychological dependence.

Can you overdose on Ketamine?

Yes, Ketamine toxicity can cause a variety of neurological, cardiovascular, psychiatric, urogenital, and abdominal symptoms, which are dose-dependent, and depend on whether ketamine administration was in an iatrogenic or illicit context.

If the person overdosing experiences slowed breathing or loss of consciousness, this demands immediate medical assistance. Likewise, if you know he or she has exceeded the recommended dosage, go to the emergency room immediately. Recognizing the early signs of ketamine overdose can ensure prompt medical intervention and help to save the life of a loved one in need. Waiting until the intoxicated individual is in a coma, unconscious, or incoherent may mean it’s too late.

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

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