Is Ketamine Addictive? Here’s What To Know

Is Ketamine Addictive? Here’s What To Know

Before receiving ketamine therapy, it’s important to be aware of all the associated risks. One question you might have before undergoing treatment is, “is ketamine addictive?” This is a valid question but it does not have an easy answer. Ketamine has the potential to be addictive. That is unquestionable. And we will turn to this subject in the subsequent discussion. However, when used carefully and by attentive professionals, the likelihood of becoming addicted to ketamine is substantially reduced.

Ketamine’s Addictive Potential

When considering the question, “is ketamine addictive?” we need to answer this in a nuanced way. Yes, ketamine can be addictive, as most drugs can be. But this does not necessarily mean ketamine is highly addictive or that its addictive potential is extremely low.

Firstly, it is worth emphasizing that ketamine’s addictive potential separates it from other psychedelics. For example, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and ibogaine not only have a low risk for abuse and addiction in a clinical context; they can also be incredibly anti-addictive in their effects. There is evidence that ketamine can be useful in the treatment of addiction. However, the substance also carries a much higher risk of addiction than traditional psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms.

That said, it would be wrong to think of ketamine as addictive as a drug like heroin. Based on research carried out by David Nutt, the most addictive substances are heroin, cocaine, nicotine, barbiturates, and alcohol. Ketamine sits in about the mid-range in terms of addictive potential, rated as being only slightly more addictive than cannabis. Nutt and other researchers found drugs like LSD and MDMA (‘ecstasy’) to have a lower potential for addiction.

The potential of becoming addicted to ketamine should still not be underestimated. Those addicted to ketamine may find it difficult to control their use or stop using, despite the negative effects this has on their finances, relationships, social life, and work.

Ketamine Addiction Mirrors That Of Cannabis

Ketamine addiction is more psychological in nature than physical, which is similar to cannabis addiction but different from, say, opioid addiction. The latter can involve physical dependence, resulting in physical withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use.

When you are psychologically addicted to ketamine, you crave the substance and when you go without it, you can experience psychological withdrawal symptoms (e.g. strong cravings, anxiety, and loss of pleasure). As with other forms of addiction, people addicted to ketamine will take higher dosages of the compound to achieve the desired effects. This is a result of tolerance to ketamine. You should be wary of this pattern since researchers have linked excessive ketamine use to bladder damage. Indeed, ketamine addiction can lead to serious organ damage in a way that is not present with a potentially psychologically addictive substance like cannabis. Many people will continue to use ketamine despite significant negative effects on their physical and mental health. This is a sign of ketamine addiction.

Why is Ketamine Addictive?

Now that we have seen the addictive potential of ketamine, it’s now worth turning to the question of why ketamine is addictive. Ketamine, like many other drugs, can turn into a form of escapism. As a dissociative, ketamine can separate you from your sense of self and the world, and, in turn, all the problems you are dealing with. It is true that ketamine therapy can help patients overcome or manage emotional problems like depression, yet it can equally become a way to avoid painful feelings. This is different from the classic psychedelics, which have a tendency to make you confront difficult emotions.

The risk of addiction increases if you take ketamine outside of a clinical context. When you use ketamine on your own, with as much supply as you can afford, your usage can get out of control. If you discover that ketamine can alleviate the pain of anxiety, depression, grief, and low self-worth, then you may use ketamine more often, which will require higher doses over time to achieve the same effect.

As well as dampening negative emotions, ketamine can also increase positive feelings like euphoria and contentment. The appeal of these positive states can also make it tempting to become a frequent ketamine user.

As with other addictions, ketamine addiction is often tied to factors unrelated to the drug. This is why it’s crucial to examine why you want to use ketamine. If you are genuinely interested in using ketamine therapeutically, then you should consider ketamine therapy, rather than self-medicating.

Ketamine Therapy and the Risk of Addiction

Here, we should also point out that ketamine therapy does not eliminate the risk of ketamine addiction. Indeed, some clinical reports indicate that repeated infusions of low doses of ketamine may have addictive properties. Make sure you discuss with a psychiatrist specializing in ketamine how many infusions you might have. If you want to mitigate the risks of addiction, then it’s worth weighing the risks and benefits of ketamine therapy. In some cases, it may be sensible to opt for a low number of ketamine infusions, or a single one to judge your reaction.

Clinical reports have also found that adolescent and adult women may be more vulnerable to ketamine’s addictive properties. But of course, adult men are susceptible to ketamine addiction as well. Whatever your background, if you are someone who has struggled with substance abuse or addiction, or you’re currently experiencing these issues, then you should consult with a doctor or psychiatrist about the risks of ketamine-assisted therapy.

Should I Be Concerned Trying Ketamine Treatment?

If you are worried about the possibility of getting addicted to ketamine following treatment, you can ease your concerns by getting as many professional opinions as you can. You should find a ketamine clinic where you can have an in-depth consultation before signing up for any treatment plan. The psychiatrist you meet should be willing to discuss risks like addiction in a comprehensive manner, as well as highlight how they work to minimize these risks. You should also disclose whether you have a personal history of addiction. It may turn out that ketamine therapy could help you overcome an addiction, rather than add a new one to the mix.

It’s important that a ketamine therapy provider treats your safety and health with the utmost care and respect. This means avoiding any recommended treatment without detailing all the benefits and risks beforehand. Many high-quality ketamine clinics exist and, in general, patients using these clinics avoid addiction issues as a result of treatment. When administered diligently, ketamine infusions can be a safe and low-risk form of mental health treatment.

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Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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