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What are the signs and symptoms of ketamine addiction?

The symptoms of ketamine addiction can vary from person to person, and also depend upon the environment that this is taken in, as well as the dose of ketamine that has been consumed.

At Priory, our specialist addiction treatment teams are able to deliver expert ketamine addiction treatment and therapy, enabling you to overcome your symptoms and cravings, and take steps towards the healthy, fulfilling and drug-free life that you deserve.

As well as consuming ketamine on a regular basis, the following are also signs that you, or someone that you know, may be struggling with an addiction to ketamine.

Psychological symptoms of ketamine addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear and paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t real)
  • Feeling of floating or being able to fly
  • Distorted perception of space, time and reality, causing you to take risks
  • Feeling detached from your body and surroundings, leading to an ‘out of body’ experience or causing you to believe that you have died
  • Entering a trance-like state
  • Euphoria
  • Inability to focus or concentrate at work, home, or in any other areas of your life, as taking ketamine has become your main priority
  • Consuming ketamine to try and relieve stress; this can often be the trigger for many people who go on to become addicted
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or stress

Behavioural and social symptoms of ketamine addiction:

  • Using ketamine on a regular basis in your day-to-day life
  • Mixing ketamine with other addictive drugs or seeking out new ways to consume this, in order to experience a better and longer high
  • Feeling as though you are unable to stop taking ketamine, even though you want to
  • Taking ketamine becomes more important than previously enjoyed hobbies and spending time with family and friends
  • Feeling as though ketamine has taken over your life
  • Inability to stop thinking about when, where and how you will get your next fix of ketamine
  • Devoting an excessive amount of time to obtaining and consuming ketamine
  • Experiencing negative consequences as a result of your ketamine abuse e.g. relationship breakdowns, poor performance at work, money problems, but still continuing to take ketamine
  • Being defensive, dishonest and secretive about your ketamine use
  • Neglecting work and family responsibilities due to being high on ketamine
  • Loved ones have noticed dramatic changes in your behaviour or appearance as a result of your ketamine use
  • Avoiding contact with loved ones, leading to social isolation
  • Finding that you only tend to socialise with people who take ketamine or other drugs
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work
  • Stealing money or selling valuables in order to pay for ketamine

Physical symptoms of ketamine addiction:

  • Finding that you have built a tolerance to ketamine, meaning that you need to take higher doses on a more frequent basis, in order to experience the desired effects
  • Experiencing a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking ketamine
  • Tiredness
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of motor control and paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fatal overdose – certain doses of ketamine are used by vets to euthanise horses, which means that fatal ketamine overdose in humans is a very real possibility

Over time, it’s possible that ketamine abuse can result in a series of long-term health problems, including:

  • Enduring and irreversible mental health problems such as schizophrenia, drug-induced psychosis, aggression and flashbacks
  • Serious long-term bladder and urinary tract problems, sometimes resulting in your bladder needing to be surgically removed
  • Severe abdominal cramps known as ‘K cramps’
  • Liver damage
  • Damage to the veins from injecting ketamine, resulting in abscesses
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Heart attack
  • Permanent brain damage

This page was clinically reviewed in November 2018 and is scheduled to be reviewed again in November 2020. To view all Priory ketamine addiction specialists, please click here.

Ketamine addiction withdrawal symptoms
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