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Understanding What Is Ketamine: Uses, Effects, and Risks

What Is Ketamine? | Turning Point of Tampa
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Ketamine: a name that straddles the line between relief and risk. On one side, a powerful anesthetic and innovative treatment for severe depression and chronic pain. On the other, a notorious club drug with hallucinogenic effects and a potential for abuse. The dual nature of ketamine paints a complex picture, one that requires careful navigation to understand what is ketamine.

Key Takeaways

  • Ketamine is used medically for anesthesia and pain relief, and shows promise in treatment-resistant depression, but high doses can lead to severe long-term cognitive and physical health issues.
  • Recreationally, ketamine is abused for its dissociative effects, posing risks like impaired judgment and coordination, and it is dangerously combined with other drugs, exacerbating potential for harm.
  • Ketamine is a Schedule III substance, indicating potential for abuse but with accepted medical uses, and its non-medical use or distribution without a prescription is illegal.

Ketamine: Definition and Background

Illustration Of A Person With Dissociative Effects After Taking Ketamine | Turning Point of Tampa

Ketamine, recognized primarily as an anesthetic, is employed in both medical and veterinary fields, providing a distinctive combination of pain mitigation and sedation. There’s a possibility you might have encountered ketamine if you’ve undergone a major surgical procedure. But beyond its medical use, ketamine has a darker side. Its dissociative, mind-altering effects make it a popular choice amongst recreational drug users seeking a detour from reality.

However, the journey is not without its pitfalls. High doses of ketamine can impair senses, leading to a distorted judgment and coordination. The long-term effects are even grimmer, with potential consequences ranging from social withdrawal to memory loss and significant cognitive and physical health issues.

Medical Applications

Ketamine has demonstrated its value within the medical sector, serving as a dependable anesthetic that assists in pain relief during operations. At lower doses, it’s used to address severe pain, and some even see potential in it as a therapeutic agent for chronic pain management.

Moreover, ketamine has shown promise for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. For patients who have been through the wringer with conventional antidepressants, ketamine offers a glimmer of hope. While the therapy’s safety is subject to a certified healthcare professional’s supervision, it can have potential side effects, including upset stomach, dizziness, and hallucinations. Also, the long-term effects of frequent high-dose usage, such as potential bladder damage and impaired brain function, are not thoroughly understood.

Although there has been value, it is important to note that those with a diagnosis of substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder can misuse and seek higher doses. Mental health care professionals are important to include before a recovering person tries ketamine treatment.

Recreational Use

Despite ketamine’s potential benefits in a clinical environment, its recreational usage reveals a more concerning scenario. The same properties that make it a powerful anesthetic also make it a popular choice for those seeking altered states of consciousness. When administered in low doses, ketamine is known to produce stimulating effects. These effects may include increased alertness and energy. However, higher doses can lead to a loss of consciousness and vivid hallucinations, including dream-like states and feelings of disconnection from reality.

Its mind-altering effects have earned ketamine the label of a ‘club drug,’ frequently used in party settings to enhance experiences. It’s sometimes even referred to as a ‘date rape drug’ due to its incapacitating effects. Users commonly consume it through:

  • Snorting
  • Swallowing
  • Smoking
  • Injecting

Some even combine it with other drugs like Ecstasy or cocaine.

Forms and Street Names

Photo Of Various Forms Of Ketamine Including Liquid, Powder, And Pills | Turning Point of Tampa

Ketamine’s versatility is evident in its various forms:

  • Liquid
  • Powder
  • Capsules
  • Rablets

Unfortunately being used in cases of sexual assault as it can incapacitate the victim and impair their memory of the event. On the streets, it goes by many names, including K, Special K, Cat Valium, and Vitamin K, among others.

The Addictive Nature of Ketamine

Addiction can stem from the effects of using ketamine, among which are its dissociative and mood-regulating characteristics. Some individuals find the sense of euphoria and detachment from reality enticing, continually seeking to replicate these experiences. Genetics also play a significant role in addiction. Certain genetic risk factors, when combined with lifestyle or environmental triggers, can result in higher vulnerability to developing a ketamine addiction.

Environmental factors, such as exposure to high-stress environments, trauma, and peer pressure, can also contribute to the development of addiction. In recent years, the potential of ketamine treatment to treat depression, especially for severe depression and other mental health conditions, has gained attention.

Individuals who engage in regular ketamine use are at risk of developing a dependency on the drug. This dependency can lead to a vicious cycle, where an individual continually uses the drug despite the adverse effects, further fueling the addiction.

Ketamine for Pain and Addiction Treatment

Despite its potential abuse, some people use ketamine for more beneficial purposes, such as managing pain and addiction. While its long-term efficacy and safety are under investigation to relieve severe depression, research has shown that ketamine in some cases may be helpful. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in delivering analgesic effects for various chronic pain conditions, such as cancer-related pain.

Ketamine is typically administered for pain treatment through an intravenous (IV) line. It can also be ingested orally in some cases. While these methods have shown promise, they are not without potential adverse effects, including hallucinations, vivid dreams, and a feeling of detachment from the environment.

Unfortunately, even when under a doctors care in a medical setting, an individual can may seek ketamine experiences and overdose especially if high blood pressure is an issue.

As with Mathew Perry “At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression,” the autopsy report said.

Combining Ketamine with Other Drugs

The US News health day reporter Cara Murez Health wrote a report on the “Illicit Use of Ketamine Keeps Rising in U.S.” in May of 2023 stating that seizures of illicit ketamine by drug enforcement agents have surged throughout the United States, growing 349% from 2017 through 2022, a new study finds.

“Unlike illegal ketamine years ago, most illegally obtained ketamine today is not pharmaceutical grade and is sold in powder form, which may increase the risk that it contains other drugs such as fentanyl,” Joseph Palamar, a researcher in the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at NYU School of Global Public Health.

The dangers of ketamine misuse escalate drastically when it is mixed with other substances. This dangerous cocktail can significantly elevate the risk of:

  • Physical harm
  • Adverse reactions
  • Cardiovascular impacts
  • Hallucinations
  • Depressive episodes
  • Psychosis
  • Potential bladder issues.

Commonly, ketamine is mixed with sedative drugs and other substances like:

  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • PCP
  • LSD
  • Speed
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • MDMA
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl

All to enhance the effects of ketamine or achieve a specific desired experience. However, the risk of overdose and other adverse effects increases significantly with these combinations.

Negative Effects of Ketamine Use

Illustration Of A Person Experiencing Negative Effects Of Ketamine Use | Turning Point of Tampa

The detrimental consequences of utilizing ketamine should never be downplayed. Its use can result in a variety of physical effects, such as hallucinations, a sense of disconnection, lack of control, unconsciousness, amnesia, and agitation. Additionally, users may experience disturbed perceptions, rapid eye movement, dilated pupils, increased salivation, muscle stiffness, nausea, and in some cases, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder.

The long-term effects of ketamine use are even more severe. Ketamine abuse can lead to severe adverse effects including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Respiratory issues
  • The potential for fatal overdose.

Seeking Help for Ketamine Addiction

Photo Of A Support Group Meeting For Individuals Struggling With Ketamine Addiction | Turning Point of Tampa

It’s imperative to identify and confront ketamine addiction. Facing the problem may begin with realizing the problem and reaching out for support. It’s important to:

  1. Consult a healthcare professional and undergo detoxification.
  2. Participate in therapy and counseling.
  3. Join support groups.
  4. Plan for aftercare.

These are vital steps in the recovery process, especially when it comes to maintaining blood pressure and avoiding increased blood pressure.

Turning Point of Tampa in Tampa Florida Treats Ketamine Addiction

Turning Point of Tampa provides comprehensive treatment services for substance abuse, eating disorders, and drug addiction. While the specific treatment options for ketamine addiction vary based on each person’s history with the drug, The medical and clinical team at Turning Point is ready to help.

Offering a complete continuum of care, a patient can enter at the level of care needed for their circumstance. Offering medical detoxification, residential inpatient treatment, day treatment , intensive outpatient treatment, and a very active alumni, Turning Point has helped hundreds find a new way of life without drugs and alcohol.

Ketamine, despite its legitimate medical applications, remains a regulated substance. It’s classified as a Schedule III drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, indicating a lower potential for abuse compared to substances in Schedule I and II. However, the use of ketamine without medical supervision is considered illegal.

The medical use of ketamine is subject to regulation by the FDA, requiring adherence to state laws concerning licensure and prescription authority for physicians. Its sale and distribution, including instances where ketamine sold illicitly, are also subject to stringent government regulations. Unauthorized possession or distribution of ketamine can lead to significant penalties, such as fines and imprisonment.


Ketamine, a medically significant anesthetic, is a double-edged sword, offering relief for some and a path to addiction for others. Its medical applications are promising, but its potential for abuse is concerning. The dangers of ketamine abuse become even more severe when combined with other drugs. The negative effects of ketamine use, both immediate and long-term, can be severe. However, help is available for those grappling with addiction, and it’s crucial to take that first step towards recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the medical applications of ketamine?

Ketamine has medical applications as an anesthetic and for managing severe pain, as well as a potential treatment for treatment-resistant depression. It is widely utilized in medical and veterinary settings for these purposes.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, known for its properties as a dissociative anesthetic, has the capability to alter the user’s perceptions, particularly of sight and sound, leading to a sense of disconnection and a lack of control. This drug, which can be administered via injection, is used both in human and veterinary medicine due to its short-acting anesthetic qualities. The term “dissociative anesthetic” is attributed to Ketamine because it creates a detachment from one’s surroundings and pain. When used, it can bring about a state of sedation, characterized by calmness and relaxation, along with immobility, pain relief, and amnesia, meaning the user may not remember events that occurred while under the drug’s influence.

Ketamine is sometimes misused for its dissociative and hallucinogenic effects, where users seek the sensation of detachment it provides. Unfortunately, its ability to induce amnesia and immobility has also led to its exploitation in instances of sexual assault. The drug’s complex effects and potential for misuse make it a substance that requires careful handling and awareness regarding its impact on perception and consciousness.

Why is ketamine considered a ‘club drug’?

Ketamine is considered a ‘club drug’ because it is often used in party settings like raves, where its mind-altering effects enhance experiences, making it popular among party-goers.

What are the negative effects of ketamine use?

Ketamine use can lead to hallucinations, disconnection, unconsciousness, memory loss, and, in severe cases, potential fatal overdose. It’s important to be aware of these risks before using ketamine.

How can one seek help for ketamine addiction?

Seeking help for ketamine addiction involves acknowledging the issue, seeking support from a healthcare professional, undergoing detoxification, participating in therapy and counseling, joining support groups, and planning for aftercare. Facilities like Turning Point of Tampa offer comprehensive treatment services for drug addiction.

Ketamine is classified as a Schedule III drug, meaning it has a lower potential for abuse, but using it without medical supervision is illegal.


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