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How Long Does Ketamine Stay In Your System?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug that is used by doctors and veterinarians for pain relief, pre-surgery sedation, and anesthesia. Ketamine was initially adopted in veterinary medicine; however, in the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ketamine for human use, most commonly to treat injured soldiers during the Vietnam War.

Since the 1970’s, ketamine has become incredibly popular as a dissociative recreational drug, providing powerful hallucinogenic and psychedelic effects when taken in larger doses. These effects are sought after by many, but taking too much ketamine can also cause memory loss, panic attacks, anxiety, and even psychosis. Chronic ketamine abuse can cause urinary tract dysfunction and even bladder damage.

Understanding how long ketamine will stay in your system after use helps prevent intoxication, potentially dangerous drug interactions, and the failing of drug tests.

Ketamine Medical Use

The World Health Organization (WHO) have named ketamine an essential medication due to its benefits as a pain reliever and anesthetic. Its anesthetic use is particularly valuable because, unlike other anesthetics, ketamine doesn’t cause respiratory depression, reduce the heart rate, or decrease blood pressure.

Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Medicinal doses of ketamine are generally calculated at around one to two milligrams per kilogram of the individual’s body weight, but the FDA reports that only 10% to 25% of this amount is required to experience a ketamine high.

Ketamine has also shown promise in mental health recovery as an option for people with treatment resistant depression.

Ketamine Abuse

Often referred to as ket, special K, vitamin K, or K, illicitly acquired ketamine is mostly used as a party drug or club drug. It produces distortions of time and space, hallucinations, and mild dissociation with effects similar to substances like MDMA, PCP, and LSD. Ketamine can be obtained in various forms, although it is most commonly used in powder form. This powder is often snorted or added to drinks and ingested.

Unfortunately, ketamine is also used as a date rape drug, meaning it is used to sedate the victim of sexual assault or rape. Powder ketamine dissolves quickly in liquid without altering the taste, and large doses can produce physically paralyzing effects.

Duration of the Effects of Ketamine

The amount of time a person feels the effects of ketamine depends on a number of factors, including the dose and route of administration. Intramuscular injections, where liquid ketamine is injected directly into a person’s muscle, typically produce effects within four minutes and the duration of effects is anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Intravenous injection, where ketamine is injected into a person’s blood, typically produces effects within thirty seconds and lasts for five to 15 minutes.

The time duration of ketamine’s effects depends on several factors. When ketamine is administered by a medical professional, these will influence the dosage. They include:

  • Age: older people take much longer to metabolize ketamine than young people, so will feel the effects for longer;
  • Route of administration: The way that ketamine is taken affects how long the drug remains in your body. When injected, ketamine leaves the body much faster than when taken orally;
  • Other drugs or alcohol: Other substances, including alcohol, can prolong the effects of ketamine and intensify the sensations a person experiences. It is essential that you inform your doctor if you are taking any medication or have consumed alcohol before receiving ketamine;
  • Metabolism: People with a faster metabolism will clear the drug quicker than those with a slow metabolism.

How Long Does it Take for Ketamine to Leave Your Body?

The amount of time any drug takes to leave a person’s system can be measured by its half life. A drug’s half life refers to the amount of time it takes for half of the dose taken to be processed by the body into metabolic by-products. Compared to other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, ketamine has a relatively short half life. Ketamine has a half-life of two to three hours in adults and one to two hours in children. In the average person ketamine will be almost completely metabolized within 12 to 13 hours. While this is a relatively short time frame, ketamine and the metabolites that process the drug can nevertheless be found in the body for much longer.

How Long Can a Drug Test Detect Ketamine?

The window for detecting ketamine depends on the method of testing. Some drug tests detect ketamine itself, while others also detect the metabolic byproducts that remain in the system far longer than ketamine itself. Drug tests that detect these byproducts may deliver positive results for several days after the last dose.

Urine Tests

A urine test is one of the most common and least-invasive methods for drug detection. It is also low cost. While most of the ingested ketamine will have left the body after one to two days, metabolites can be found in urine for two weeks, which is a relatively large detection window.

Blood Tests

A blood test is an uncommon method for detecting ketamine use as blood tests have a low window of detection, a high cost, and are more invasive than urine screening.

Saliva Tests

Saliva tests are uncommon methods for testing drugs because they cost more than urine tests and have a small window of detection. A saliva test can generally detect ketamine for 24 hours after the last dose was taken.

Hair Tests

A hair follicle test involves analyzing hair follicles for traces of drugs, and has the longest window of detection for most substances. Ketamine use can be detected in a hair test for up to three months following use. Hair tests are more often used to detect whether a person has been abusing ketamine for an extended period of time.

Side Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine abuse can result in a range of dangerous consequences, including mental and physical health problems and the development of a substance use disorder.

High doses can also lead to seizures, high blood pressure, and breathing problems

The effects of ketamine are not the same for everyone. Body mass, age, underlying medical or mental health conditions, biological factors as well as how much ketamine has been taken affect the side effects a person may experience and to what intensity.

Lower doses of ketamine generally produce mild dissociative effects. However, tolerance quickly builds and the quantity needed to feel ketamine’s effects increases. When taken in higher doses for an extended period of time, ketamine causes harmful effects. People who abuse ketamine are at risk of developing a physical dependence as well as causing themselves physical and psychological harm.

Physical Effects of Ketamine Substance Abuse

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Eyesight problems
  • Kidney and bladder problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers
  • Ketamine-induced ulcerative cystitis
  • Chest tightness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Less pain sensitivity (potentially resulting in serious injury)
  • Convulsions or seizures

Psychological Effects of Ketamine Abuse

  • Severe anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Personality changes

Ketamine Addiction Treatment

For those who have become dependent on ketamine or who are suffering from drug addiction, the first step of addiction treatment is to detox. This involves allowing all traces of the drug to leave one’s body. During this time, it is common to experience withdrawal symptoms such as drug cravings, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. Those who have been abusing ketamine for a long time are more likely to experience intense cravings and may opt for a detox supervised by health professionals.

If a person has completed ketamine urine tests as a result of being drugged or spiked in an attempt at sexual assault, they may wish to begin talking therapy such as trauma therapy or counselling with a mental health professional.

Contact us

Ketamine abuse can develop into a psychological dependence that makes it difficult to quit independently. Empowered recovery is here to help you achieve long term recovery with a treatment placement tailored to your needs.

For immediate treatment help, you can contact us today for professional treatment advice and find out more about the treatment process.

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