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 if often used recreationally as a ‘party drug’, 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.

  • Symptoms

    How does it make you feel?

    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.

  • Effects and Health risks

    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 on can be fatal, causing loss of consciousness and the heart and lungs to stop working ‘cardiorespiratory arrest’. The chances of this happening increases significantly when mixed with alcohol and other drugs.

  • Signs to look out for

    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.

  • Detox and Withdrawal

    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 BONDS Clinic, 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.

Advice from our consultant

Programme model

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. A typical detox program at The Bonds Clinic consists of a 7-14 day with dual diagnosis assessment, then an out-patient consolidation & relapse prevention stage including talking therapy, and often includes Naltrexone therapy.

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Meet the team

Our core multi-disciplinary team is led by a Consultant Psychiatrist, specialised GPs and includes a Registered Mental Health Nurse and a Substance Misuse and Dual Diagnosis Practitioner and Therapist. We also work with a network of highly skilled practitioners to develop a personal treatment programme to suit you.

Meet the team
Meet the team

Know someone with an addiction?

It can be challenging if a loved one has an addiction; it can sometimes have a negative effect on relationships, home environments and family dynamics. It may be difficult to spot the signs and how best to approach them and help them on a path towards recovery. The BONDS Clinic feel that we should all be empowered to support and seek treatment for our loved ones when they need it most but also remember we are here for you as well. If you think a loved one may have an addiction, we are here to help.

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