Ketamine is a rapid dissociative anesthetic. It’s said to be the chemical cousin to PCP (Phencyclidine). This drug was developed in 1962 and used in surgery. People need to be careful with the use of the drug because it is a very addictive substance. It’s now popularly used as a recreational drug, and this further increases the risk of addiction. Its addictive qualities can consequently speed up the emergence of long-term side effects from the abuse of the drug. These include: sleep disturbances, slowed reaction time, memory impairment, psychosis symptoms, personality change, social withdrawal, disorientation, delirium, muscle rigidity, tachycardia or rapid heartbeat, derealisation (losing touch with reality), delusion of grandeur, amongst others.  Besides the effects listed above, there are also medical complications linked to the use of the drug, and these include liver dysfunction, kidney failure, gallbladder problems, cystitis, and other urinary tract problems. It is crystal clear that having an addiction to ketamine poses a severe threat to one’s health.

Ketamine addiction can occur very fast and makes the user feel mentally drained and unstable.  Many users tend to use the drug more and more frequently to try and lessen these feelings. The addiction effects of this drug are similar to that of cocaine. The user attempts to experience the psychedelic effect of the drug by using more of it, forcing the body and soul of the one abusing it to become more and more dependent on it. Prolonged use of the drug is disastrous.

The first step to recovering from Ketamine addiction is to recognize the abuse of the drug as a problem and then ask for help in finding a solution. This step requires a withdrawal from the drug. Withdrawal is the first step in the rehabilitation process, and most people are often deterred by it. It is essential to start withdrawing from the substance if you want to get over its addiction, and it’s up to the individual to do so. There are withdrawal symptoms which accompany this act of withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening but can be very uncomfortable to deal with.

During the withdrawal process, the addict can become emotionally unstable and may need isolation to protect themselves and others. Addicts need a medical professional to guide them through the journey, to avoid relapse and overdose later on. Professional supervision is necessary for a safer, better-controlled recovery process.

For some individuals, withdrawal symptoms from Ketamine last for about 4-6 days or as little as 72 hours. In other cases, the withdrawal symptoms may extend to two weeks or even more. The symptoms usually set in between 24-72 hours after the last dose. The duration through which the symptoms last is dependent on the volume of drugs in the addict’s system, the addict’s tolerance level, how long they’ve been using the drug, and if they’re exposed to other drugs.

Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction Include:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Exhaustion
  • Restlessness/agitation
  • Rage
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Physical shaking or tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Hearing loss
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Psychosis, including delusion and hallucination
  • Nightmares, insomnia, and difficulty sleeping

Treatment of Ketamine Addiction

There are many options available for treating Ketamine addiction and going through Ketamine rehabilitation. The procedure is similar to that of a person going through cocaine addiction recovery. The treatment for Ketamine addiction depends on factors such as age and gender of the addict, the length and severity of the drug problem, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders. There’s often a combination of various addiction therapies to best suit each individual, as this has been very effective so far. Effective treatment will deal with the underlying cause as well as the symptoms of substance abuse. An effective treatment program should also address relapses and continued cravings. The medication must be allowed to span a sufficient period and must be adaptable to the changing situation of the individual as he/she recovers.

The treatment for Ketamine addiction may include the following techniques and therapies:

  • Medication Management: This is a method that engages patients and caregivers to create a complete drug list. This drug list is the foundation for addressing medication reconciliation and management problems. With this tool, a medical practitioner can identify patterns in a patient’s behaviors, which could help protect the patient from adverse drug effects such as under/overdosing. It’s useful for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. For the rehabilitation process, a person struggling from drug addiction can be prescribed an opioid in smaller doses. The opioid will act in the same way as the drug causing addiction and suppress cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The opioid used must be different from the drug causing the addiction, thereby lessening the body’s dependency on the original drug while slowly weaning off the second drug. This works very well for Ketamine addiction.
  • Behavioral Treatment: An essential component of drug therapies. There must be some form of behavioral treatment incorporated into all drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. This is because the process of becoming free from drug addiction is itself life-changing, and there is a higher success rate when behavioral therapy is included in the treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most widely used application of behavioral therapy. The addict must be able to identify the situation that led to substance abuse. Relapse is prevented by recognizing the underlying cause of the addiction.
  • Family Therapy: This is used when members of the addict’s family realize he/she has a problem. Members of an addict’s family can ally and confront him/her. This intervention is not aimed at threatening or belittling the abuser, but to show love and support. Multi-dimensional family therapy is an excellent option for those who would love the presence of their family during rehabilitation. The family’s presence and involvement would create the right atmosphere and provide continued abstinence from the drug.
  • Inpatient treatment centers: These are some of the most successful and also popular methods of Ketamine treatment. Residential treatment programs are known to be intensive and provide round the clock treatment, support and medical care. This takes several months. In this treatment method, the addict is removed from his/her current living conditions and then placed in a medically supervised treatment facility. The aim of this is to make the addict go through detoxification safely while being monitored. The inpatient treatment method is used as a last resort for someone suffering from more than one addiction, or have tried other methods of Ketamine addiction treatment and failed. People that have relapsed from trying to get over the Ketamine addiction can also use this inpatient treatment method.
    • On arrival at the inpatient treatment center, the addict must go through detoxification. This involves completely ceasing all drug and alcohol intake.  Medication to help control the withdrawal symptoms can be included as part of the treatment. During the transition stage, the addict is made as comfortable as possible and support is offered from both medical personnel and those that have undergone the same treatment. The severity of the symptoms associated with detoxification from Ketamine varies from person to person.
  • Individual and Group Therapy: Another method of treating Ketamine addiction is individual and group behavior therapy. In this treatment method, a psychologist is required. This psychologist helps the addict identify why they began abusing the substance. The underlying issue causing the abuse is brought to the surface, the addict is taught time management skills and also encouraged to find new hobbies or interests. Sometimes, peer pressure is the only identified reason for the drug abuse and nothing else; and in such cases, the addict is taught to learn to say no and learn how to stay away from those that could influence them back into the wrong act. For group therapy, the Ketamine user is made to associate and relate with others who have experienced similar circumstances. They celebrate milestones with one another and share experiences.
    • This individual and group behavior therapy is an outpatient treatment, and instead of the addict staying in the treatment facility and being monitored, they’re allowed to go home each night. The inpatient and outpatient treatments are somewhat similar, but the main difference between the outpatient treatment and the inpatient treatment is the freedom to go home. The outpatient treatment shouldn’t be used in the case of severe addiction and those that have already relapsed.
  • Hypnotherapy: This works by inducing a state of relaxation and awareness. In this state, the mind is very open, and a therapist can explore feelings and suppressed memories that could be a pointer to the root of the addiction. This method is very effective in the treatment of ketamine addiction as the patient never entirely loses consciousness or control of themselves but is still in charge of their thoughts and actions. The therapist won’t be able to manipulate the patient in any way.
    • The hypnotherapy process alters the addict’s conscious state by switching off the left part of the brain, which is used for analysis, hence maximizing concentrations on the right side. This helps a therapist gather more information on what a patient needs to overcome the addiction.

If you or a loved one are suffering from Ketamine addiction, consider what we’ve discussed in this article. Look at all your options and see what it the best form of treatment. Recovery is possible.

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