Ketamine is a prescription drug that is classified as a dissociative anesthetic.
It also has hallucinogenic and psychedelic properties, and it is often abused for the effects it can illicit. When ketamine is abused, it distorts the senses, causing the user to experience strange sights and sounds. It also produces a sense of detachment from the environment and oneself. Ketamine is occasionally used in medical settings in humans before surgery and other procedures, but it is most often used as a tranquilizer in veterinary practice.
Ketamine can be found as a white powder or a clear liquid. The liquid form of ketamine is often stolen from veterinary offices and then sold as a recreational drug. When used recreationally, it is most often injected. The liquid form of the drug can also be heated and evaporated, leaving a white powder that is then snorted or orally ingested. Ketamine is often combined with other illicit substances, particularly opiates, marijuana, and alcohol. The powder is sometimes added to tobacco or marijuana and smoked.
While physical withdrawal does not appear to be a concern, increased tolerance to the drug is common among frequent users.
Repeated exposure to ketamine causes the body to stop responding to the drug as it once did, leading the individual to use larger and larger doses to achieve the desired effects. This can contribute to the cycle of ketamine abuse and addiction, prompting the individual to continually seek out the drug despite negative consequences. Tolerance can develop very rapidly, particularly if the individual uses ketamine in a binge cycle, in which the drug is administered multiple times in a short period.
The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs published a study finding that withdrawal from ketamine may be similar to withdrawal from other addictive drugs, such as cocaine, that produce very strong cravings and a high tolerance but do not generally lead to the physical symptoms often associated with withdrawal from other substances. Individuals who are addicted to ketamine will continue using the drug in response to the overpowering cravings they experience when trying to quit.
This can lessen cravings and make the detox process easier.