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Overview of Ketamine detox

Ketamine, like many abused substances, was first synthesized and intended for medical use. Few could have predicted it would become one of the most popular club drugs along with MDMA and LSD. Unlike MDMA and LSD, ketamine is still used to this day in the professional medical field. It was first intended for human use but is most commonly used by veterinarians as an anesthetic. As strange as it might seem being an animal anesthetic, ketamine can also be found in raves, clubs, and bars across the globe. Since the 1980s ketamine has exploded in popularity, and is commonly referred to in drug culture as Special K, Vitamin K, or simply K.

When ketamine was developed in 1962 it was used at high doses to induce a trance like state, pain relief, and memory loss. Sometimes it was used in intensive care units in hospitals for light sedation. It was soon discovered that while coming off of the drug patients would experience hallucinations, altered thinking, confusion, and sometimes agitation. Because of this, the drug was pushed to the back burner and only used in emergencies. Today it is still not the anesthetic of choice, but is sometimes used in trauma patients with severe head injuries due to its lack of effects on the respiratory system. Ketamine does not alter breathing like other anesthetics nor does it cause low blood pressure, making it the anesthetic of choice when there is not reliable ventilation equipment. Its most common medical uses are by far in veterinarian offices.

By the 1970s ketamine became available on the illicit drug market. Its euphoric and trance like effects made it desirable at dance parties. In the 1980s it became increasingly popular along with MDMA in clubs and concerts, but its most rapid rise was in the 1990s with the emergence of raves and electronic dance music. It is commonly snorted or swallowed, but some self proclaimed “psychonauts” inject a large amount of the drug to induce an intense out-of-body psychedelic experience known as a “K-hole”. In small amounts it creates euphoria and energy, but with increasing dosage it creates dissociative effects causing confusion, hallucinations, and slurred speech.

Ketamine was initially believed to be safe, but as popularity increased this proved to be false. More than 90 deaths in the UK have occurred between 2005-2013. Most deaths are not overdose related but rather accidental poisonings, drownings, traffic accidents, and suicides. The drug many times is cut with other substances, which may be more dangerous. Sometimes user ingest ketamine unknowingly and are frightened by the unexpected effects. The drug can cause hallucinations and altered thinking sometimes causing people to do irrational things, leading to accidents. The drug is not physically addicting but can be very psychologically addicting.

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How Detoxing From Ketamine works

Because ketamine is not physically addicting, some people think they cannot become addicted to the substance. Many do not understand the difference between chemical dependency and chemical addiction. Only certain chemicals cause the body to become dependent on them, meaning they will face physical withdrawal symptoms if they cease to ingest the substance. Addiction is when a person cannot bring himself to stop taking a substance even when they want to stop. Though ketamine will not cause intense physical withdrawal symptoms like heroin or alcohol, a user may feel depressed, agitated, anxious, and restless. They may not be able to stop chasing the high created by the drug.

Ketamine detox works similarly to stimulant detox. The user will not be given a taper, but instead may still be prescribed “comfort medication” to assist with the detox process. Benzos or blood pressure medicine may be used to help with sleep, anxiety, restlessness, and depression. One also may be prescribed an antidepressant or something specific for sleeping. The most beneficial part of ketamine detox is that it physically removes the person from the drug. It allows one to have a safe place to detox from the substance with medical supervision and advice. Being in a detox center will make a person significantly less likely to succumb to overwhelming cravings.

WHAT DOES THE Ketamine DETOX PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

While coming off of ketamine a person may feel very depressed, hopeless, and agitated. These symptoms can make it very hard for a person to stay sober. They may try many times to stop but are unable to stay away from the drug. This can be confusing to person that thinks that ketamine is not addictive. The reality is if one cannot stay away from ketamine, they are likely psychologically addicted and must be removed from the substance in order to stay sober.

Many detox facilities are locked down, and a person must sign themselves out against medical advice in order to leave. This process can be a deterrent while one is experiencing cravings. As mentioned above, one can also be prescribed certain medications to alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing so they can safely come off of the drug. The detox center will be comfortable, providing amenities, a bed, and a highly trained staff. Many times detox centers will also have therapists and social workers to provide talk therapy which can be highly beneficial for a person detoxing from ketamine. Many detox centers will also have recovered addicts come in to talk with the patients in order to share their experience, strength, and hope so that people can know it is possible to stay sober and stop abusing their drug of choice.

Though ketamine is not physically addicting, one will still experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawals are the negative symptoms associated with detoxing from a substance. Ketamine withdrawals are mostly psychological in nature yet can still be very painful. They can be painful enough to drive the person back to the drug over and over, causing them to be unable to break the vicious cycle of addiction.

Ketamine, like any substance, affects the flow of chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain. It can take time for the brain to function in a normal manner, and this is why ketamine abstinence is so important. Without a proper detox it can be hard for one to begin the road to recovery. Without education one may think that they are not normal, or that they are incapable of staying sober. The truth is that the brain will heal, and though one may feel miserable, it will pass the longer one is sober. The changes in the brain will level out and one will be able to enjoy every day life again.

Ketamine Detox Withdrawals

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Though ketamine is not physically addicting, one will still experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawals are the negative symptoms associated with detoxing from a substance. Ketamine withdrawals are mostly psychological in nature yet can still be very painful. They can be painful enough to drive the person back to the drug over and over, causing them to be unable to break the vicious cycle of addiction.

Ketamine, like any substance, affects the flow of chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain. It can take time for the brain to function in a normal manner, and this is why ketamine abstinence is so important. Without a proper detox it can be hard for one to begin the road to recovery. Without education one may think that they are not normal, or that they are incapable of staying sober. The truth is that the brain will heal, and though one may feel miserable, it will pass the longer one is sober. The changes in the brain will level out and one will be able to enjoy every day life again.

List of Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis (from heavy use)
  • Decrease in motor skills
  • Rage
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression

Can you detox from Ketamine at home?

While it may be possible to detox from ketamine at home, it is never recommended. Withdrawal is a medical condition and therefore should be treated in a medical setting. Ketamine withdrawal itself is not life threatening, but sometimes can lead a person to put their life in danger. Heavy ketamine users are at significant risk of suicide, rage, or psychotic episodes, and this is why it is always recommended one seek medical attention if they are planning to stop taking ketamine.

If the habit is not very severe, it may still lead to depression and insomnia. These symptoms can be unbearable and it is unnecessary to go through them alone. In a medical detox one can be prescribed medication to help them sleep so that their brain can naturally try to rewire itself to function normally. Many times ketamine users mix the substance with other drugs like MDMA which is a stimulant, which may mean they are very sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can lead to psychosis among many other health issues. Depression accompanied by lack of sleep can lead to severe suicidal thoughts, confusion, and erratic emotions. If you are experiencing ketamine withdrawal symptoms you should seek help immediately.

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How long does it take to detox from Ketamine

The length of ketamine detox has many factors. It all depends on the age, weight, and height of the person as well as the amount taken. It also depends on how long the drug has been abused for. Typically the longer the drug has been abused for the longer it will take for the brain and body to readjust. The dosage amounts are a significant factor as well, because if one is experiencing psychosis or damages cognitive abilities this can take longer to treat.

The most severe symptoms of ketamine withdrawal will likely last 2-4 days. Once the drug leaves the body, the brain will try to adjust its natural flow. Insomnia may subside after a week, but depression may be longer lasting. It is important to remember if it did not take overnight for one to seek help for their addiction, then the effects of their addiction also will not subside overnight.

Typically after roughly a week in medical detox a person will feel much better. They will be more motivated to stay on the right track and continue to take suggestions on staying sober. Though feeling better, one may experience post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) which can lasts weeks, months, or even years. These symptoms may include lack of concentration, decreased cognitive abilities, occasional cravings, and depression. Talk therapy and medication can assist with these symptoms and make them less of a burden on a person’s day to day life.

  • Nearly 3% of high school seniors in the United States used the drug at least once in the past year, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey
  • According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, individuals aged 12 to 25 accounted for 74 percent of the ketamine emergency department mentions in the United States in 2000
  • According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States, an estimated 2.3 million people aged 12 or older used ketamine in their lifetimes
  • A total of 529 emergency department visits in 2009 were ketamine-related