hand holding pills
spoon of medication tablets

You may be familiar with ketamine for its medical purposes. First responders may administer it when dealing with an agitated patient who is a danger to themselves and others. The substance has also been used in veterinary practices1 to get animals ready for surgery and several other procedures.

There are other legitimate reasons to take ketamine, but the substance has also been used for recreational purposes. Ketamine is a party drug that is often taken by teens and young adults at raves, nightclubs, and other party atmospheres. People using ketamine may ingest the substance by snorting, swallowing, or injecting it.

Young people who take this drug for its euphoric effect may believe the substance is harmless. What they might not understand is that ketamine comes with significant risks and can be dangerous. It is possible to overdose on ketamine, which can cause serious long-term health issues and even death.

If you suspect someone close to you is overdosing on ketamine, call 911 immediately. Young people may worry about the repercussions of getting caught with drugs, and they might be reluctant to call the authorities. While you may deal with some consequences later on, doing nothing would be the worst plan of action. Do the right thing and call 911 right away.

If you or someone you know needs to join a treatment program for substance use disorder after recovering from an overdose, our compassionate and knowledgeable staff are on call 24/7 to assist you. At Windward Way Recovery, we are proud to serve our patients; while we are located in the Midwest in Franklin, California, we also serve patients from across the United States. To schedule an initial consultation, fill out this form or call us at (855) 491-7694.

What Are the Effects of Using Ketamine?

So why does anyone take ketamine if it has the potential to be dangerous? To be frank, they might not know the substance is dangerous and simply take it in the moment. They might also be chasing the feeling it gives them and not care about the potential hazards associated with the substance. Whatever reasons a person may have for taking the substance, we are not here to judge. We understand that substance use, or even having a substance use disorder, can be complicated.

However, we want you to understand the issues associated with ketamine use. You may wonder, “What happens to a person when they take ketamine?” The effects can vary, but ketamine can distort your perception and cause a feeling of detachment from your environment and even from yourself. Ketamine can change how you view the sights and sounds around you. It can also potentially affect your other senses.

How does ketamine do this? The substance can affect the receptors within your brain. The effect can be similar to LSD for the user.

According to Medical News Today, adverse or unwanted side effects of using ketamine can include:

  • Addiction
  • Psychosis
  • Amnesia
  • Impaired motor function
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory problems
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Other side effects of using ketamine include:

  • Feelings of calmness or relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling detached or outside of your body
  • Slurred speech
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Hallucinations that can last from 30 to 60 minutes
  • Repetitive and uncontrolled eye movements, otherwise known as nystagmus

Ketamine also affects people differently based on a couple of factors, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation2 Just like most substances, the effects of ketamine can vary from person to person because of factors such as size, genetics, and any underlying medical issues a person may have. The only way to be sure you’re safe from any negative side effects is to not consume ketamine or other dangerous substances at all.

Some other factors that can affect how ketamine will affect someone include:

  • Their size and weight.
  • Their overall health.
  • Whether their system is used to the consumption of the substance.
  • Whether they take other drugs while also taking ketamine.
  • How much of the substance they consume.
  • How strong the drug is, as it can vary from batch to batch.

How Dangerous Is a Ketamine Overdose?

Taking a sizeable amount or consuming any amount from a strong batch of ketamine could lead to an overdose. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation3, the risk of death from ketamine alone is not high. However, a toxic amount of ketamine can still cause health problems. Most ketamine-related problems are due to mixing ketamine with other drugs, such as alcohol, GHB, and MDMA. People who have done this report symptoms like experiencing an altered consciousness, dizziness, stomach pain, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and even urinary tract issues.

People who have existing cardiac conditions or hypertension are at greater risk when consuming too much ketamine. The reason for this is that ketamine increases cardiac output, raises blood pressure, and can cause your heart to race. If you are already struggling with an existing cardiac or heart condition, it is best to avoid consuming ketamine or other mind-altering substances.

When overdoses do occur, it’s typically when ketamine levels are too high in the bloodstream. If the body cannot safely break down the toxins, it will start to shut down. This could lead to a dangerous reaction, and it could even be fatal if there isn’t immediate medical intervention.

We aren’t completely sure what could lead to a toxic buildup or overdose of ketamine. Factors, as we mentioned before, vary from person to person. Toxic buildup can occur because of the body’s inability to break down the ketamine due to an individual’s body mass, age, underlying medical or mental health conditions, and other genetic factors that could play a role. As mentioned earlier, those who have cardiac or heart issues should stay away from ketamine since complications can occur.

The way ketamine is ingested can also increase the odds of an overdose. Snorting a copious amount of ketamine can send the substance into the bloodstream faster and raise the risk for an overdose. Toxicology reports from individuals who died after using ketamine for recreational purposes found that doses between 0.1 and 7 mgl/l were present in the bloodstream when they died, according to the Emerging Health Threats4 Journal5

The World Health Organization6 has published research that suggests ketamine is fatal when injected at doses above 11 mg/kg for a person who is about 132 pounds.

Signs of a ketamine overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Paralysis
  • Violence or terrors possibly related to hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Extreme sedation
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Raised blood pressure

Ketamine overdose has the potential to be fatal, although death from only ketamine poisoning is not as common. Most often, an overdose occurs from mixing other substances while consuming ketamine.

Individuals are also at a higher risk of injuring themselves or others while they are experiencing a high from the substance. Since paralysis is a side effect of consuming ketamine, there is a danger if an individual starts to vomit, as they could choke on their vomit. Other accidents and injuries can occur because of the dissociative effects associated with taking ketamine.

If you or someone close to you is showing signs of a ketamine overdose, it is crucial to get immediate medical assistance. Failure to do so could cause severe consequences, with the worst of all being death.

Treatment for a ketamine overdose will include medical supervision and supportive care. If you (or someone close to you) are hospitalized for a ketamine overdose, you will be evaluated to see if you have a substance use disorder once you have recovered from the overdose. An overdose can be a wake-up call and a clear sign to those in your life that you might need help. Those struggling with a substance use disorder can benefit from comprehensive addiction treatment services. Through our comprehensive programs, we’ve helped countless individuals stop using ketamine and other substances and manage to get on the path to a balanced life through recovery.

At Windward Way Recovery, we will be here to provide holistic care for our patients. If you or a loved one has developed a dependence on ketamine or other substances, we are committed to helping you achieve a happy, healthy, and sober lifestyle. Our treatment center is located in the Midwest in Franklin, California, but we are proud to serve patients from across the United States. To take the first steps on your journey to a better life, call us at (855) 491-7694 or fill out this form to schedule an initial consultation. Our staff is available 24/7, day or night, to aid you and answer all of your questions.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6