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Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine – Ket, K or Special K is a recreational and medicinal drug classified as a hallucinogenic dissociative, meaning that there is usually a detachment from reality and Ketamine is often used recreationally as a ‘party drug’. It is usually snorted in powder form, it can be taken orally, sometimes ‘bombed’ – wrapped in cigarette paper and swallowed, or injected in liquid form. It can also be smoked in combination with other substances. Medicinally, ketamine can be used as an anaesthetic before surgery and as a tranquilizer in veterinary practice.

About ketamine usage

Ketamine has hallucinogenic and psychedelic properties which may lead to misuse. When ketamine is misused, it distorts the senses such as strange sights and sounds, whilst also creating a sense of detachment from the environment and oneself, almost being in a euphoric dream-like state. However, high doses of ketamine can mean you ‘fall into a K hole’ where awareness and dissociation is so impaired that there is an inability to interact with others or the world around you.

Ketamine, like some substances, can be predominantly a psychological dependence. The dissociation from consciousness can be seductive result in a tremendous psychological dependence. Regular ketamine misuse will lead to a rapid growth in tolerance, meaning that an increasing dose to reach the desired effects, leading to a higher chance of complications.

Ketamine use over long periods of time can result in serious health problems including:

Physical health:

  • Damage to the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract leading to increased urinary frequency, urgency and pain before or during urination
  • A loss of pain sensation ‘anaesthesia’ and paralysis of the muscles can result in injury
  • Increased heart rate & blood pressure

Mental health:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Potential psychosis

As ketamine misuse is most commonly in the club drug scene, it is often mixed with alcohol, cocaine, ‘meth’ and ecstasy which can potentially be fatal taken together.

Large doses of ketamine  can be fatal, causing loss of consciousness and the heart and lungs to stop working (known as cardiorespiratory arrest). The chances of this happening increases significantly when mixed with alcohol and other drugs.

The signs of ketamine use are so pronounced that they are hard to miss. As well as being a party drug, ketamine can also be misused in isolation and in general tend to occur away from loved ones as it’s hard to hide.

Because the effects are short-term, an individual may have recovered by the time they get home. Looking for other signs of ketamine addiction such as longer or unexplained absences, changed in mood and potentially increasing trips to urinate for example.

Stopping ketamine use suddenly, particularly after long-term misuse, can cause intense behavioural cravings and discomfort potentially from urinary tract complications, which often need specialist input. Mental health complications are challenging, such as:

  • Aggression
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thinking

At The New Life Centre, we offer a medically-led Ketamine detox with a psychiatry-led treatment plan. Both physical and mental health complications need addressing as part of a broad treatment plan to provide the best chance of recovery.

Programme model

Our programme model is tailored to the individual’s needs. Our detox varies depending on whether the substance is a lone problem or is accompanied by misuse of other substances, the amount the patient is using, and if there any underlying mental health issues. The internal audits of the BONDS treatment protocols of many years have shown that approximately 70% of patients with alcohol or substance misuse also have an underlying mental health disorder. This combination of addiction and a mental health disorder is called Dual Diagnosis.

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