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What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

If you’ve never taken ketamine before, you may be wondering: “What does ketamine feel like?” Before undergoing ketamine therapy, or taking the drug in any other context, it’s important to know what to expect from the experience. This will ensure that you are as ready as you can be for ketamine’s subjective effects.

In this post, we will be exploring the question “what does ketamine feel like at a low, moderate, and high dose?” By detailing the possible subjective effects of each kind of dosage, you will understand that the effects you feel from your ketamine dose are perfectly normal.

For each type of dosage, we will look at the ways ketamine will affect your body, perception, mood, and other mental states.

Looking for ketamine therapy? Click here to find top rated ketamine clinics near you

Ketamine Dosages

Here are the dosages for both intravenous injection, which is the most common route of administration (ROA) for clinical use, and insufflation, the most common ROA for recreational use.

  • Low dose of Ketamine:
    • IV: 0.1-0.5 mg/kg
    • Insufflation: 15-30 mg
  • Moderate dose of ketamine:
    • IV: 0.5-1 mg/kg
    • Insufflation: 30-75 mg
  • High dose of ketamine:
    • IV: 1-2 mg/kg
    • Insufflation: 75-200 mg

We don’t cover very high, anesthetic doses of ketamine in this post, as these doses aren’t used in either a clinical or recreational context.

After covering the acute subjective effects of ketamine at varying doses, we will then delve into what you can expect to feel after the experience is over, in the following days and weeks.

RELATED: How Is Ketamine Made?

What Does Ketamine Feel Like In The Body?

When taking ketamine, you should also be prepared for some bodily changes. The physical side effects of ketamine are, for most people, manageable. These bodily changes are generally not as intense as they are with other psychedelics, such as psilocybin mushrooms, iboga, mescaline-containing cacti, and ayahuasca.

Low Dose Ketamine Experience

On a low dose of ketamine, any physical changes that occur will be very mild. They can include the following.

  • Slight dilation of pupils
  • Mild stimulation or drowsiness
  • Slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • A light body high

According to Dr. Christopher Sendi of Nova Health Recovery in Alexandria, Virginia, “With Low doses of ketamine, one feels a heavy blanket sensation and a slight calming and sedating feeling. Some feel as if they are more mentally active similar to lucid dreaming that occurs before they fall asleep.”

Medium Dose Ketamine Experience

If you take a medium dose of ketamine, the bodily effects can become more noticeable. They can include the below.

  • More dilated pupils
  • A further increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Stronger body high
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Slight nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • A stronger feeling of drowsiness

Dr. Sendi says, “Medium ketamine doses typically feel heavier, almost like you could close your eyes and get lost in your thoughts. Lights become more vivid and visual distortions begin to take effect.”

Looking for ketamine therapy? Click here to find top rated ketamine clinics near you

High Dose Ketamine Experience

On a high dose of ketamine, you may experience the following.

  • Possibly more nausea
  • More numbness
  • Finding it difficult to talk
  • Loss of coordination (this is why it’s important to have a trip sitter or medical professional at hand when taking a high dose, as they can ensure that you don’t jeopardize your physical safety in any way)

And when it comes to high doses of ketamine, Dr. Sendi adds, “A high dose ketamine will sweep you off your feet in a positive way. It feels like you are fully immersed in your head. It is often described as feeling like the ‘cobwebs’ are being cleared up. People also describe the higher doses as ‘disk defragmenting your brain.'”

RELATED: Is Ketamine Therapy Right For You? Here’s What To Know

Perceptual Changes From Ketamine

Ketamine, like other drugs that induce a psychedelic experience, can cause a range of perceptual changes. These are changes to your visual and auditory perceptions.

Depending on the dose, these changes can range from alterations to what you can sense in your environment to hallucinations (sensory perceptions in the absence of an external stimulus, so sensing things not actually present).

Low Dose Ketamine Experience

If taking a low dose of ketamine, you might experience the following perceptual effects.

  • Colors becoming slightly brighter
  • The edges of objects appearing more distinct
  • Things looking as if they’re in high definition
  • The features of objects moving slightly
  • Music and external sounds having a different quality to them

Medium Dose Ketamine Experience

On a medium dose of ketamine, you can expect the following changes to your perceptions.

  • Colors become noticeably enhanced and vivid
  • Objects move and morph
  • Changes in your perception of perspective, with far away objects appearing close to you and close objects appearing far away
  • Objects can appear smaller or bigger than normal
  • You might see some geometric patterns and images behind closed eyelids
  • Sounds become noticeably distorted

High Dose Ketamine Experience

On a high dose of ketamine, which can result in a “k-hole” experience, the perceptual effects can be intense and include the following.

  • Visions of imagery and scenes with eyes closed, or the feeling of traveling to an alternate reality
  • Seeing objects and people morph in intense and strange ways
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Dissociation from your body, leading to an out-of-body experience, where you can perceive the world from a location outside of your body or look at your body from a different vantage point in the room

RELATED: Ketamine Experiences: Would I Be In An Unfamiliar Environment With Unfamiliar People? And What If I Have A ‘Bad Trip’?

What Does Ketamine Feel Like Emotionally?

During a psychedelic experience, your emotions can change slightly or significantly. You may experience a range of emotions during a ketamine journey, as well as experience a change in your emotional attitudes toward certain things, such as yourself, your relationships, and the world at large.

Low Dose Ketamine Experience

On a low dose of ketamine, you might experience the following.

  • Positive mood
  • Calmness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appreciation for music

Medium Dose Ketamine Experience

On a medium dose of ketamine, any emotional changes you experience will be more intense and can include the below.

  • Euphoria
  • A feeling of contentment or peace of mind
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion

High Dose Ketamine Experience

If taking a high dose of ketamine, you may experience emotions to a depth you’ve never felt before. These emotional states may include the following.

  • Ecstasy
  • Euphoria
  • Joy
  • Bliss
  • A feeling of sacredness Intense feelings of fear, dread, or panic

The Importance Of Set And Setting

Individuals can have wildly different experiences with ketamine, even when taking the same dose. There are so many other factors besides dose that can affect the psychedelic experience, most notably set and setting.

Set refers to your mindset going into the experience, including your mood, attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and personality. Meanwhile, setting is the context in which you take the mushrooms, including your physical environment, the people you’re tripping with, and the music you listen to.

If you want your ketamine journey to be as pleasant and smooth as possible, then it’s vital to pay close attention to your set and setting, especially when taking higher doses.

Make sure that you are emotionally prepared for the experience and feeling stable and well-rested on the day you plan to have the experience. Moreover, have the experience with the right people around. These should be trained, licensed medical professionals if you’re taking ketamine in a therapeutic context or people you can rely on if you’re taking ketamine in a recreational setting.

Be selective of where you take ketamine, too. Being undisturbed and comfortable at home is usually ideal for positive experiences. If you take a higher dose of ketamine, you don’t want to be walking around a busy city or near roads, as this can be risky. Ketamine can make you clumsy, cause a loss of coordination, and distort your physical surroundings, so you should be in a safe, controlled environment.

What Does Ketamine Feel Like When The Experience Is Over?

After a ketamine infusion, when the acute subjective effects have stopped, you may experience improvements in your mental health. However, it’s important to note that these improvements may be limited to a matter of weeks.

This contrasts with psilocybin-assisted therapy, for example, which can alleviate symptoms of depression for multiple months after just one or two sessions.

Improvements In Depression

Ketamine therapy can be effective in the treatment of mood disorders, including major depression and treatment-resistant depression. If you suffer from one of these conditions, you may experience the following after one or more ketamine infusions.

  • Feeling a return of energy and motivation
  • Positive mood
  • Feeling more sociable
  • Regaining the ability to enjoy things you used to enjoy
  • Improved sleep

Improvements In Anxiety

Ketamine infusions can also help in the treatment of anxiety disorders. For a person struggling with a condition like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD), you might experience the following after one or more ketamine infusions.

  • Feeling less anxious about the future, work, relationships, or social interactions
  • Reductions in tension
  • Improved sleep

Improvements In PTSD

One of the most promising applications of ketamine is its ability to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. If you struggle with PTSD, after a ketamine infusion you might experience the below.

  • No more nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Reductions in anxiety and aggression
  • Improved sleep
  • Feeling more at peace with the traumatic event
  • Positive mood

Addiction Recovery

Ketamine therapy may also help with addiction recovery. Ketamine can treat alcohol addiction, as well as cocaine use disorder and opioid use disorder.

Awakn Life Sciences, a biotech company developing psychedelic medicine to treat addiction and mental health conditions, has also initiated the first ketamine treatment study for gambling addiction. Someone with an addiction may experience the following after ketamine treatment.

  • A loss of cravings
  • Enjoying life without the drug he or she was previously addicted to
  • Improvements in any underlying mental health conditions

When deciding on taking a ketamine experience, whether in a clinical or recreational context, you should understand the effects of different dosages. For instance, a low dose ketamine experience is very different from a high dose one. If undergoing ketamine therapy, you should also remember that this will involve moderate to high doses of ketamine. This can produce strong dissociative and psychedelic effects.

If these effects are off-putting to you, speaking to a ketamine provider may help ease any worries. Additionally, if you would rather not have a psychedelic experience as part of your mental health treatment, there are always other options available. These include a ketamine nasal spray (delivering a low dose of the drug), or TMS.

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.

Dr. Jonathann Kuo

This post was medically approved by Dr. Jonathann Kuo

Jonathann Kuo, MD is a Board Certified Pain Medicine Specialist and Anesthesiologist. He is the founder of Hudson Medical Group (HMG), an innovative and cutting edge healthcare system that combines Medical, Wellness, and Mental Health in the treatment of Pain.

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