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doctor in blue gloves measuring how addictive is ketamine

In England and Wales, ketamine use has more than doubled since 2016 – and in those under 25, ketamine use has tripled.

Ketamine use is on the rise, and more and more people are becoming addicted to the drug. But how addictive is ketamine? Is it more addictive than other drugs such as cocaine or heroin? That’s what we’ll be exploring today.

Read on to learn more about the addictive nature of ketamine, including what makes ketamine addictive and how addictive it is compared to other substances.


Is Ketamine Addictive?

In short, yes – ketamine is an addictive substance. Frequent ketamine use can increase the risk of physical and psychological dependence.

However, psychological addiction is more prominent when it comes to ketamine abuse. Ketamine is not considered a highly addictive drug – however, you can begin to develop cravings for the drug’s effects.

Chronic ketamine use can lead to tolerance, which means you’ll need to take the drug more frequently or take higher doses of the drug, to feel the same effects. It’s important to note that although physical dependence isn’t as common with ketamine, there is still a risk.

As well as the risk of developing an addiction, ketamine can also increase the risk of urinary tract problems and cognitive impairments. Ketamine can cause ‘ketamine bladder’ – damage to your urinary tract that can be irreversible.

So, ketamine is addictive but tends to be more psychologically addictive than physically addictive.


What Makes Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine can be addictive for several reasons. Let’s start by saying that substance addiction, whether it be ketamine addiction or alcohol addiction, never has one single cause – it’s a combination of several factors that contribute to addiction. Let’s explore some of the factors that contribute to ketamine’s addictive nature:

Ketamine affects your brain’s reward system it impacts dopamine levels and leaves you feeling euphoric. Over time, this can reinforce the notion that ketamine makes you happy – despite the negative effects of ketamine abuse.

Frequent ketamine use can lead to tolerance – this means you’ll need to take more ketamine to feel the same high. This can quickly lead to addiction, as you take more and more ketamine to feel the same effects.

Many people use ketamine to self-medicate – some people take ketamine to escape reality, and others use it to self-treat negative emotions and mental illness. The dissociative effects of ketamine can provide temporary relief from trauma and emotional pain, and many people are drawn to the distorted perceptions of sight and sound and out-of-body experience. However, you should never self-medicate with drugs – it can lead to a habit, and worsen existing mental health conditions.

Ketamine use can impact your levels of self-control – the more you abuse ketamine over time, the more it impacts your brain’s reward system. As your brain’s reward system becomes less responsive, it can be even more difficult to quit.

Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging – withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, cravings and insomnia can make it really tough to stop taking ketamine – you may continue to take ketamine to alleviate these unpleasant symptoms, contributing to the cycle of addiction.


Ketamine Addictiveness vs Other Drugs

Over time, ketamine abuse can result in dependence. However, the potential for dependence is notably less than other drugs such as nicotine, alcohol and amphetamines.

Ketamine is widely considered much less addictive than substances such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines


However, it does still have the potential for drug abuse and dependence. Ketamine is less physically addictive than opioids. Opioids can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and extreme cravings – as can benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax.

The rate of ketamine misuse is notably low compared to other drugs. One study found that 87% of people who had tried ketamine would not use it again, suggesting that many users don’t like the effects.

To summarise, the withdrawal symptoms and addictive potential of ketamine is much lower than many other drugs. That being said, ketamine addiction should be treated seriously, and you should seek medical or professional support to overcome your addiction.


Symptoms of Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine addiction is characterised by the lack of control over taking the drug – including struggling to stop taking it despite wanting to. Here are some other indications that you may have an addiction to ketamine:

  • Spending lots of time taking ketamine
  • Experiencing ketamine cravings
  • Prioritising ketamine over hobbies, work and relationships
  • Struggling to meet day-to-day commitments
  • Continuing to take ketamine despite the negative effects
  • Develop a tolerance to ketamine
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit or lower your typical dose


Get Help For Ketamine Addiction Today

Ketamine addiction can be difficult to overcome, but the good news is that it is possible – and we are here to help you achieve long-term sobriety.

Our online rehab program can be tailored to meet your needs and preferences. You can complete rehab and achieve sobriety from the comfort of your own home, helping you to manage addiction in your everyday life.

Begin our intensive outpatient treatment today for a flexible approach to recovery. We can provide you with the support and resources you need to beat addiction for good.

Our Intensive Outpatient Treatment offers a flexible approach to recovery. We are always on hand to support you, no matter the time of day.

Begin your recovery journey today with The Online Rehab – it all begins with a consultation.

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn, UK’s foremost addiction expert, CEO of The Online Rehab, and author of “The Thin White Line.” A former police officer turned advocate, Nicholas has been clean since 2009, dedicated to helping others overcome drug and alcohol abuse. Featured in national media, he shares his journey and expertise to combat addiction.

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