What You Should Know About Quitting Ketamine

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Ketamine (also known as “Special K or “Vitamin K) was originally developed as an anesthetic for animals and is sometimes used in human surgery.

Some ketamine users become addicted to the pleasurable effects of the drug and the altered states of consciousness that it brings. 1 Long-term ketamine use can lead to heart and kidney problems, and it puts users at a higher risk of developing depression, psychosis, and memory problems.


Benefits of Quitting Ketamine

Ketamine can have negative effects on the brain and the body. Even low doses of ketamine can result in numbness, confusion, and hallucinations as well as increased blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. At higher doses, ketamine can cause memory loss, panic, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and even death. 2

Given ketamine’s effects, quitting use of the drug can be beneficial for a number of reasons:

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  • Improved physical health – Long-term ketamine use can result in stomach pain and ulceration, bladder pain, and kidney problems. 3 Quitting ketamine may help improve physical health and prevent further damage to the body.
  • Improved mental health – Ketamine can have negative effects on a person’s mental health and cognitive functioning. 3 It can cause problems with memory, and it can increase the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety. Some ketamine users also find it difficult to concentrate and learn new material. Giving up ketamine can provide the opportunity to treat mental health symptoms and prevent further memory problems.
  • Better relationships – Drug use can have a negative effect on relationships with family and friends. Quitting ketamine can provide the chance to rebuild relationships harmed by addiction.
  • Better functioning – Using ketamine may also affect performance at school or at work and make it difficult to manage responsibilities. Giving up ketamine may improve focus and the ability to carry out responsibilities.

There are many benefits to quitting ketamine. Making the decision to quit and taking the steps to begin the process can be challenging. But treatment programs can provide the support and tools needed to begin recovery.


Ketamine Addiction Treatment Center and Recovery Program Options

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Some people choose to quit ketamine on their own, while others choose to attend a treatment program.

Addiction treatment programs help ketamine users maintain sobriety, gain a greater understanding of their triggers for using drugs. and develop new skills to manage stress and other difficult emotions. Attending a treatment program offers the following advantages:

  • Therapy- Treatment offers different types of therapy, including group, individual, and family therapy. Further, therapy may focus on different topics, such as education on drug use, exploring past trauma, and relapse prevention. The variety of therapies and topics offer something for everyone.
  • Structure – Treatment programs have rules and standards, including no drug or alcohol use. This reduces temptation, which is important during early recovery when cravings are strong.
  • Peer and staff support – Many people who attend treatment programs report benefits from connecting with other people with similar problems. The experience of feeling supported by others can instill a sense of hope and allow you to build sober relationships.

Types of Treatment

Several different treatment options are available for ketamine addiction:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications to treat ketamine addiction. 3

Aftercare

Aftercare is the process of transitioning from treatment back to the real world. It is an important step in the recovery process because people are especially vulnerable to relapse during early recovery. Aftercare may include one or more of the following:

  • Outpatient treatment includes many of the aftercare recovery efforts sought by those who’ve completed an inpatient or residential program. Ongoing outpatient substance abuse treatment allows people to receive additional support in a less structured environment.
  • Counseling can be a helpful periodic aftercare option when transitioning from a formal inpatient or outpatient treatment program. People typically meet with a counselor or therapist at least once per week.
  • Sober living facilities are homes for people in early recovery. Residents at sober living homes are expected to stay sober, attend recovery meetings, and abide by house rules.
  • 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are free meetings for people looking for a supportive and spiritual approach to recovery. Members are encouraged to find a sponsor, attend meetings consistently, and go through the 12 steps with a sponsor.
  • Support groups are free meetings for people in various stages of recovery. Support groups include SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.


Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects

Some ketamine users have reported cravings, anxiety, sweating, and shaking.


Ketamine withdrawal is not well-understood. [1, 3] Some ketamine users, however, have reported the following symptoms when trying to quit:

  • Cravings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Shaking.
  • Sweating.
  • Heart palpitations.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and may depend upon:

  • Length of drug use.
  • Amount used.
  • Frequency of use.
  • Body type and physical health.
  • Mental health.

While little is known about the risks of ketamine withdrawal, it is recommended that you seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms during withdrawal:

  • Troublesome cravings.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Pain.

Medically supervised detox for ketamine may be warranted if you have any pre-existing medical or mental health issues or experience pain, discomfort, or other significant challenges to your sobriety when trying to quit. It is always recommended to discuss your drug use and health with your doctor.


Tips for Quitting

Quitting ketamine can be challenging. The following tips can be helpful, especially during the early phase of recovery:

  • Think about the pros and cons – Make a list of the pros and cons of both using and quitting ketamine. Take careful note of the cons of using and the pros of quitting. Keep the list of reasons why you would like to quit handy and refer to it as needed for additional motivation.
  • Identify your triggers – Being aware of your triggers is the first step in figuring out how to deal with them. List the people, events, situations, thoughts, and feelings that trigger you to want to use drugs.
  • Create a relapse prevention plan – Once you are aware of your triggers, you can develop a plan for coping with them. Some triggers can be avoided, such as certain people or neighborhoods. Other triggers, such as stress, cannot be avoided and must be dealt with. Make a list of healthy coping strategies for managing each trigger.
  • Practice self-care- Taking care of yourself can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can put you at risk of relapse. Remember to incorporate healthy activities into your daily routine, such as exercise and meditation.

Many people find that quitting drugs is difficult to do alone. They choose to enter treatment for the additional support and to gain an understanding of why they began using drugs in the first place. If you are trying to quit ketamine, consider seeking professional help or consulting with an addiction professional.


How to Help an Addict Quit

Fist on table showing aggression
Talking to a loved one about his or her ketamine use is difficult, since many people with drug problems are accustomed to hiding and denying their drug use. Be sure to avoid the following when talking to a loved one:

  • Confrontation- Taking a confrontational approach to a loved one’s addiction can cause him or her to be defensive.
  • Judgment – Being judgmental may make a loved one feel criticized and lead to feelings of shame.
  • Aggression – While you may be angry about a loved one’s drug use, being aggressive can cause additional conflict.
  • Threats or demands – Demanding that a loved one quit using or go to treatment may have the opposite effect.

Instead, try using one or more of the following approaches:

  • Be gentle with your words.
  • Express your concern in a loving and caring manner.
  • Respectfully tell your loved one how his or her substance use affects you.
  • Use “I” statements to express your feelings.
  • Offer to help.

Consider creating a list in advance of ways that you can assist and support your loved one if he or she agrees to get help.


Can I Quit Cold Turkey? Is It Dangerous?

Withdrawal can lead to cravings and medical and mental health complications.


Research has yielded conflicting findings about ketamine withdrawal.1 Some ketamine users experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using, but it is unknown if ketamine withdrawal is dangerous.

That said, withdrawing without consulting with a medical professional is not recommended for the following reasons:

  • Physical complications. Ketamine use can have serious effects on the body. Those considering detox would benefit from undergoing a thorough physical evaluation and receiving appropriate medical care, if needed.
  • Mental health complications. Mental health symptoms, including anxiety and depression, may increase during withdrawal.
  • Cravings. Withdrawal can lead to strong cravings, which can increase the risk of relapse.

Ketamine users would benefit from meeting with a doctor or undergoing a medically supervised detox to ensure that withdrawal symptoms and any pre-existing issues are closely monitored.


Find a Rehab Center for Ketamine

If you would like assistance finding a ketamine addiction treatment center, call our helpline at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? . Our representatives are available to assist you and can verify your insurance coverage.

Sources

[1]. Morgan, C. J., & Curran, H. V. (2012). Ketamine Use: A Review. Addiction 107(1), 27-38.

[2]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Research Report Series: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs. NIH Publication No. 15-4209.

[3]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Commonly Abused Drugs.

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You are never too old to improve your health and quality of life!

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