Ketamine, or “Special K,” is legally used as an anesthetic in the medical treatment of animals for its tranquilizing effect. It causes human users to dissociate from their environment, and often results in psychedelic or hallucinogenic symptoms as well. Ketamine is highly psychologically addictive, and prolonged use of the drug leads to increased tolerance and physical dependence. Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety are drawn to the drug due to its ability to create an “out of body” experience. However, addiction to ketamine only exacerbates emotional distress and alienates users from their support systems and society in general.

In the early days of treatment for ketamine dependence, you’ll enter a withdrawal period to detox from your physical dependency. During detox, you’ll likely experience a number of withdrawal symptoms that can vary in terms of severity. Detox can be among the most intimidating and emotionally and physically taxing aspects of early recovery. While this process is difficult, it’s necessary to begin on the road to recovery and start a new journey free of the pain caused by addiction. 

Taking the first step toward overcoming your addiction is perhaps the most difficult part. You’re on an incredible journey and a future without addiction is brighter than you can imagine.

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Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine addiction is always difficult to overcome, but it is possible with help and support. You may be dealing with comorbid mental health disorders or drug dependencies, which necessitate a higher level of care and supervision.

Ketamine addiction treatment can take place on an in-patient or intensive outpatient basis using a vast array of approaches and interventions. True rehabilitation and recovery should be comprehensive. At Oregon Trail Recovery (OTR), our holistic approach to drug addiction treatment is designed to provide you the time and support you need to work through every aspect of your addiction and life so you’re truly able to heal, recover, and develop new ways of finding joy and purpose in sober life.

Because ketamine dependence involves serious psychological addiction, behavioral therapy should be an integral part of any treatment plan. Here are a few examples of the kinds of therapy you will encounter in treatment:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — designed to address thinking patterns that influence behavior.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) — aims to introduce mindfulness and self-awareness to aid in stress management.
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) — combines mindfulness therapies with commitment-to-change approaches.

What Is Ketamine Detox Like?

One of the first and most important steps of recovering from ketamine addiction is detox. It is the process of ceasing use of the drug and allowing your body to remove it from your system. In rehabilitation environments, the purpose of detox is to safely manage symptoms of withdrawal as your body and mind adjust to life without the drug.

It’s most often recommended that ketamine is stopped “cold turkey,” meaning all at once. It’s a notoriously difficult drug to detox from, in part due to the unpredictable psychotic behaviors that can occur during ketamine detox and withdrawal. Intense drug cravings are also common, and should be expected.

During ketamine detox, you should be monitored by expert clinicians at all times to ensure your success and safety. Some medications may be administered to help minimize withdrawal symptoms, and your respiratory functioning and heart rate will be monitored closely throughout the process to ensure safety.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Suddenly ceasing the use of ketamine can lead to several unpleasant symptoms, especially if you are suffering from additional or comorbid disorders or addictions. For this reason, close monitoring by medical professionals, usually in a healthcare setting, is necessary. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor function
  • Shaking
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anger
  • Hearing loss  
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat

Of course, the severity of withdrawal will depend on various factors, including the extent of dependency, the patient’s history, and health, and the level of care they’re receiving. While the physical symptoms of ketamine withdrawal are unpleasant and should be monitored, the psychological symptoms are equally dangerous and necessitate the care of medical professionals.

It is also extraordinarily helpful to have an emotional support system through this process. Whether this is family, friends, a sober group, or your sponsor, having a sense of community will go a long way in getting you through detox and lessening the emotional and psychological toll.

Duration of Withdrawal

The symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can last anywhere from 72 hours to several weeks. Detoxing from ketamine is generally not considered life-threatening. However, it is a notoriously difficult and uncomfortable process. Symptoms described above typically begin to manifest 24-72 hours after your last dose of ketamine. The duration of these symptoms depends on the following factors:

  • The amount of drugs in your system
  • Your tolerance level
  • How long you have been using the drug
  • Whether or not you’ve been using other drugs concurrently

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline

Every individual is different. Every addiction is unique. While everyone’s experience detoxing from ketamine will be slightly different, the following timeline will give you a general sense of what to expect as you withdraw from the drug:

Day 1 – Day 3

Symptoms of withdrawal typically begin approximately 24 hours after the last dose of ketamine. Unpleasant symptoms such as tremors, exhaustion, insomnia, agitation, depression, hallucinations, nausea, difficulty breathing, and hearing loss tend to occur within the first three days of detox.

Day 4 – Day 14

Withdrawal symptoms typically persist for approximately two weeks, but may taper off depending on the severity of the addiction and whether or not other drugs are present at the time of detox.

Day 15 & After

By the third week of treatment, most acute withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Nerve cell damage in the brain, however, may be long-lasting or even permanent. Therefore, some psychological issues may continue to persist on a long-term basis.

You don’t have to do it alone. OTR offers comprehensive, judgment-free detox and rehabilitation

Detox can be a daunting prospect, but it is possible and is one of the first and most important parts of achieving sobriety. Whether you’re suffering from a dependency to ketamine, alcohol, or another addictive substance, it’s easy to feel hopeless and alone. But you don’t have to. At Oregon Trail Recovery, we have the expertise, experience, and motivation, to guide you through every step of your recovery. 

By taking the first step to getting clean, you’ve already proven that recovery is possible. You deserve to live a long and fulfilling life, and we hope to be a part of that journey. Call us at (855) 537-0067 or contact us online today.

📱 Need help with substance misuse? Get help now. Sign up for SMS Recovery Support