Is Ketamine Addictive? Understanding Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug widely used for medical procedures in animals and humans. In recent years, medical professionals have begun to explore ways it might be used during treatment for bipolar disorder, anxiety, and chronic pain.

While ketamine is used primarily in medical and veterinary settings, people also use ketamine recreationally. Ketamine users may seek its dissociative effects, which can produce an “out of body” feeling. In some cases, people may use ketamine as a “date rape” drug to make victims unable to resist an attack.

Ketamine use is dangerous and can lead to serious short and long-term consequences. But is ketamine addictive?

Understanding the effects and risks of this drug can help you make informed decisions about your substance use. This article will detail the side effects and risks of using ketamine, whether you can become addicted to it, and how to seek help for ketamine abuse.

Reach out to the specialists at Arise Treatment Center to learn more about ketamine abuse or to learn more about our holistic treatment programs.

The Effects and Risks of Ketamine

Like all drugs, ketamine has side effects and risks. These risks are amplified for people who use ketamine recreationally. The effects and risks of ketamine are closely associated with how much of the drug a person uses and the method they use to ingest it.

Short-term physical effects

Ketamine users may experience physical effects that include:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Poor muscle control
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Muscle stiffening

Short-term mental effects

Ketamine users may experience mental side effects, including:

  • Decreased attention
  • Memory loss
  • Dreamlike states
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Unease

People who take ketamine may enter a dissociative state and be unaware of their surroundings. This puts them at risk for accidental injury and death from falls, drowning, burns, exposure to extreme cold or heat, and sexual assault.

Delayed effects

Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows a link between ketamine use and delayed effects, including:

  • Bladder ulcers and pain
  • Kidney problems
  • Chronic stomach pain
  • Depression
  • Long-term memory issues

Drug combination effects

Combining ketamine with other substances–including alcohol–puts users at increased risk for complications and overdose. Some of the effects of combining ketamine with alcohol and other substances include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heart rate
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Stupor–a state near unconsciousness
  • Dangerously depressed breathing


While rare, a ketamine overdose can be life-threatening. People who take a large dose of ketamine or ingest the drug too quickly are at risk for overdose.

A drug overdose is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you or someone nearby exhibits symptoms of an overdose, call 911 immediately and remain with the person until EMS arrives.


Someone who uses ketamine heavily or frequently may become dependent on it and experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. People in ketamine withdrawal often experience:

  • Intense cravings for ketamine
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Physical withdrawal symptoms can occur during ketamine withdrawal but are not as common when compared to withdrawal from other substances.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine has the potential for abuse and both physical and psychological dependence. People who use ketamine may take larger or more frequent doses over time, which can lead to physical dependence that requires professional treatment. People who become psychologically dependent on ketamine often need professional treatment and support to stop using it.

If you or someone you love uses ketamine and need help to stop, consult your doctor, an addiction specialist, or the staff at a local addiction treatment center for assistance.

Signs of Ketamine Abuse

Recognizing ketamine abuse is the first step in getting the help you need to recover and move forward. Here are some of the signs that indicate someone is living with ketamine abuse:

  • Requiring larger or more frequent doses over time to get the desired results
  • Taking ketamine longer than they intended to
  • Spending a lot of time, resources, and energy to obtain, use, and recover from using ketamine
  • Neglecting hobbies or isolating themselves
  • Falling behind in their responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Using ketamine in dangerous situations, such as driving while intoxicated
  • Continuing to use ketamine despite the drug’s harmful effects on their physical, social, or mental health

If you have tried to stop using ketamine, but you have found it’s impossible, you may require the support and treatment of a ketamine abuse treatment program. During treatment, you’ll work with dedicated medical and mental health specialists to understand the complex roots of your substance use. You’ll learn skills and find support to help you avoid relapse for the rest of your life and develop a support network of people and community programs to keep you engaged in recovery for life.

Find Help Now

If you or someone you love use ketamine and need help to stop, you are not alone. Reach out to the dedicated team of specialists at Arise Treatment Center now to learn more about our holistic addiction treatment programs or to schedule an intake assessment.


We're Ready To Help You Begin A New Life

Our Team of Qualified Addiction Experts are Here to Help