February 2, 2024

Ketamine Addiction: Signs, Addiction Risk, & Treatment

an image of someone dealing with a ketamine addiction problem

Ketamine, known as a dissociative anesthetic, has FDA approval for starting anesthesia in both humans and animals. Beyond its primary use, it is occasionally prescribed off-label for treatment-resistant depression. This guide explains how to connect with evidence-based ketamine addiction treatment, and explores the following issues:

  • How is ketamine abused?
  • Is ketamine physically addictive?
  • How addictive is ketamine?

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance with a moderate potential for addiction.

The development of tolerance to ketamine can occur swiftly. People may discover that they need to consume increasingly larger doses to attain the same euphoric or dissociative effects initially delivered. This increase in dosage can happen quickly, as the body adjusts to the drug’s presence and effects.

Dependence on ketamine encompasses can be physical, psychological, or both. On a physical level, the body begins to adapt to the drug, leading to the presentation of withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. Psychologically, individuals may experience intense urges to continue using ketamine. The psychological craving can be especially potent, given the escapist and dissociative experiences that ketamine induces.

The onset of addiction indicates a deeper, more complex relationship with the drug. Ketamine addiction is marked by an uncontrollable urge to seek and use the drug, in spite of the damaging consequences it may bring. Addiction to ketamine can profoundly disrupt everyday life, affecting personal relationships and responsibilities. Addressing a ketamine addiction typically requires professional treatment with behavioral interventions and counseling.

Signs of Ketamine Addiction

Understanding the signs of ketamine abuse can be the first step toward seeking help and beginning the journey to recovery.

Behavioral changes

  • Tolerance and increased consumption: One of the earliest ketamine addiction symptoms is the need for larger doses to achieve the same effects. This indicates developing tolerance.
  • Compulsive use: Individuals may find themselves using ketamine more frequently or in larger amounts than intended. This can trigger many dangers of ketamine abuse.
  • Preoccupation with the drug: Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of ketamine.
  • Neglected responsibilities: Addiction can lead to neglecting work, school, or family responsibilities due to drug use.
  • Continued use despite adverse outcomes: Persisting in using ketamine even when it causes or exacerbates personal, legal, or health problems.

Physical symptoms

  • Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation: Experiencing physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, increased heart rate, or anxiety when not using ketamine.
  • Changes in appearance: Noticeable weight loss, poor hygiene, or other changes in physical appearance.
  • Health issues: Persistent health problems, including gastrointestinal issues or memory impairment, which are often associated with long-term ketamine use.

Psychological and emotional markers

  • Mood swings: Experiencing significant shifts in mood, from euphoria while under the influence of depression or irritability during withdrawal.
  • Dissociation: Regular ketamine use can lead to a feeling of detachment or dissociation from reality, even when not using the drug.
  • Impaired judgment: Engaging in risky behaviors, such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence.

Social implications

  • Strained relationships: Conflicts with friends and family over drug use, or social withdrawal.
  • Secretive behaviors: Being secretive or deceptive about whereabouts and activities to hide drug use.
  • Altered social circles: Associating predominantly with other users or individuals who encourage drug use.

Recognizing these ketamine abuse symptoms is the first step in addressing the problem. If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, it is important to seek professional help. Rehabilitation and mental health facilities offer comprehensive treatment programs that address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, providing a path to recovery and a healthier, drug-free life.

Ketamine Addiction Risk Level

Ketamine is a Schedule III substance in the United States, indicating a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. The following factors may influence the rate at which addiction to ketamine develops:

  • Method of consumption: The method of consumption (snorting, injecting, swallowing) can affect addiction risk, with some methods leading to a faster onset of effects and potentially higher addiction potential.
  • Legitimate vs recreational use: Ketamine has legitimate medical uses, particularly in anesthesia and, more recently, in treating certain cases of depression. That said, its recreational use, which often involves higher doses and more frequent use than medically recommended, significantly increases the risk of addiction
  • Dosage and frequency of use: Regular use, especially in large doses, increases the likelihood of developing tolerance, dependence, and ultimately addiction.
  • Psychological variables: Individuals with a history of mental health issues, particularly those involving mood disorders or substance abuse, may have a higher risk of developing an addiction to ketamine.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental and social factors, such as peer pressure, stress, and availability of the drug, also play a significant role in the risk of addiction.

While ketamine’s addiction risk is considered lower than that of Schedule I or II drugs (like heroin or cocaine), it still poses a considerable risk, especially when misused or used recreationally.

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

The treatment for ketamine addiction should be holistic and tailored to individual needs. Since ketamine addiction often co-occurs with mental health disorders, a dual-diagnosis approach is critical. This approach addresses not only the addiction itself but also any underlying psychological issues.

  • Detoxification: The first step in treating ketamine addiction is detoxification, where the drug is eliminated under medical supervision. This process minimizes withdrawal symptoms and prepares the person for further treatment.
  • Behavioral therapy and counseling: Various forms of therapy, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), are effective in addressing the psychological aspects of ketamine addiction. These therapies help people develop coping strategies, improve emotion regulation, and address any underlying mental health issues.
  • Medications: While there is no approved pharmacological treatment for treating ketamine addiction, certain medications may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and co-occurring mental health disorders. Treatment plans should be monitored and adjusted by healthcare professionals.
  • Peer support groups: Engaging with support groups can provide a sense of community and shared experience that is highly beneficial for long-term recovery. Peer support also offers practical advice and emotional support from those who have gone through similar experiences.
  • Aftercare planning: Long-term success in recovery from ketamine addiction depends heavily on aftercare planning. This includes ongoing therapy, support group participation, and lifestyle changes to support a drug-free life.

Recovery from ketamine addiction is not just about stopping the drug – it’s about embracing a new way of life. This includes rebuilding relationships, finding new hobbies and interests, and developing a supportive network. Rehabilitation centers play a key role in guiding individuals through this transformative journey.

Get Treatment for Drug Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you need help eliminating ketamine from your system safely and comfortably, we can help you achieve this at Gratitude Lodge. Our treatment centers in Southern California are located in Newport Beach and Long Beach. Here, you can address ketamine addiction through a month of residential treatment at one of our pet-friendly facilities.

Supervised detoxification streamlines the intensity of ketamine withdrawal and reduces the chance of complications or relapse disrupting early recovery.

Although detox addresses the issue of physical dependence on ketamine, ongoing treatment is required to unpack the psychological aspect of addiction, a chronic and relapsing brain disorder. During residential rehab at Gratitude Lodge, you can access an individualized blend of the following treatments:

  • Holistic therapies
  • Family therapy
  • Psychotherapies
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Aftercare and support

If you are addicted to ketamine and need help, call Gratitude Lodge today at 800-994-2184.

Want to learn more?

Recent Articles

Begin your journey
to recovery.

Get evidence-based treatment in a peaceful location, with a
team of dedicated, expert staff. 
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Email
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
an image of clients representing drug detox california

Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
Gratitude Lodge clients laughing, representing drug detox california


An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
woman at beach representing drug detox in california

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
an image of a client and therapist at Gratitude Lodge's Long Beach addiction treatment center

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
an image of clients outside after getting help at Gratitude Lodge's rehab in Long Beach, California

Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
an image of clients at Gratitude Lodge's carson drug rehab

Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
An image of clients going through inpatient substance abuse treatment

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
an image of clients at clients at Gratitude Lodge's representing fear in recovery

Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.
Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.