Ketamine use is on the rise, and increasingly, younger adults are getting addicted to ketamine. In this article, Chris Cordell writes about:
- How using ketamine use can lead to lifelong physical and mental harms
- The heavy price many ketamine users and their loved ones are paying, including loss of life
- The number one myth you need to know about ketamine treatment for depression.
Know the Signs of Being Addicted to Ketamine
First thing’s first, how do you know if your ketamine use if getting out of hand?
You can now self-assess your ketamine use on our website. The survey is confidential, free, and it only takes a minute or two to complete. This tool was originally developed by the World Health Organisation, so it will give you a really accurate measure. Answer the drug severity questions as honestly as you can, to get your results and recommendations.
10 common signs and symptoms of addiction to ketamine:
- Life may seem dull, depressing, too painful or difficult when NOT using ketamine.
- You are thinking about ketamine more, anticipating when you can get and use more.
- When you use ketamine, you can’t or don’t want to stop.
- When you come down, you think that more ketamine is the solution to your physical pain or mental unease.
- You are taking more ketamine, or mixing it with other substances, to get the desired effect.
- You are very angry or frustrated when anything gets in the way of you getting or taking ketamine.
- You are having to cover up your ketamine use because it frequently interferes with your everyday commitments.
- Ketamine is affecting you physically – including insomnia or sleeping too much, weight loss, stomach pains, bladder problems, heart problems, etc.
- Ketamine use is affecting your relationships – causing conflict, relationship damage, avoidance/withdrawal or break-ups.
- Your work is suffering, including regular absenteeism and/or loss of productivity.
How Big is the Ketamine Problem?
A recent international operation (Lionfish) coordinated by Interpol found that during the five-week operation authorities recovered 1.8 tonnes of ketamine. That’s an equivalent weight to two young humpback whales or a couple of 1979 Volkswagen Beetles.
According to the UK government, ketamine use among adults in the UK is currently the highest on record, with ‘people aged 16-24 almost four times as likely to use ketamine as those aged 16 to 59’.
Ketamine has seen an explosion with students in universities, and our “how do deal with a ketamine come down” is one of the highest blogs looked at on a weekly basis. One of the biggest problems is the lack of knowledge of the dangers of ketamine, and in dosing. Like with other drugs, people taking it think “nothing serious is going to happen to me”. This only makes it more risky.
Unfortunately, the parent I spoke to at the weekend, who has been trying to get his son to look at his ketamine use, won’t have that opportunity anymore. Ketamine addiction can be fatal, if it is not treated in time. And last week, I spoke to two people with suspected ulcerative cystitis. Their use has got to the level that the physical damage to their bladder is now irreversible. They are now facing life with a urostomy bag.
The Difference between Esketamine and Ketamine (They are NOT the Same Drug)
There has been a lot of press recently about ketamine treatment for depression. Categorically, this is not the same type of ketamine that you can buy on the street. Anyone self-medicating depression with street-bought ketamine is putting themselves at significant risk.
Esketamine, a derivative of ketamine, is a nasal spray that has been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK as a treatment for moderate to severe treatment-resistant depression. This is also referred to as “difficult to treat depression”. Esketamine nasal spray is the first licensed antidepressant in 30 years with a different mechanism of action from other available antidepressants. There are some early positive results. However, caution must be exercised here. Recent studies comparing ketamine and ECT found that while both treatments benefited clients, all 5 studies showed ECT outperformed ketamine in relieving symptoms of depression.
The Dangers of Ketamine Use (Whether or Not You are Addicted)
With any drug use – prescribed, unprescribed or illicit – there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are always risks. If you decide to use ketamine, then its best to be forewarned. No one is immune to the consequences. Each time you use, it’s Russian Roulette – the more times you spin the barrel, the greater chance it is going to go off.
Ketamine is linked to a number of physiological and psychological responses. In most circumstances, people will experience slurred speech and development of insomnia and disassociation. Perversely, the use of street ketamine can often lead to depression – as street ketamine is not the same as Esketamine. Ketamine can seriously affect your bladder and the damage can be irreversible. Ketamine is also not good for your sex life. Although ketamine can reduce inhibitions to sex, it can make it difficult to get or maintain an erection. Equally, as the drug has anaesthetic qualities, it numbs the pain, so rough sex can lead to damage and cuts that aren’t noticed. Like alcohol, ketamine can lead to unsafe sex, due to impaired judgment whilst using.
Many ketamine users will experience “a K hole”, a state where awareness of the world around the user is almost entirely lost. After taking too much ketamine, people can fall into a strongly disassociated and sedated state. Dose control is a precarious thing. Taking too much ketamine can be fatal, with many deaths associated with respiratory failure. Overdosing may also lead to chest pains, high blood pressure and vomiting, the last of which is particularly dangerous for a user who may be unable to move, and may be unaware of their surroundings.
Ketamine Use Can Be Fatal
In June last year, the Metro published a story about Louise Cattell, 21, who was found drowned in the bath after taking ketamine and falling unconscious. Unfortunately, this type of story is all too familiar.
You don’t have to be an addicted to ketamine to have a problem, or for ketamine use to have serious consequences in your life. Until you try stopping, you don’t know how hard it is to stop and stay stopped. So please reach out and get some help if you have tried to stop and can’t. The staff at Help Me Stop know what works. Outside of being specialist addiction psychotherapists, we have all had a history of alcohol and/or drug use, so we understand.