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What are the Long-Term Effects of Ketamine?

The long-term effects of ketamine can have devastating results on an individual and their lifestyle. This substance is used for a variety of medical treatments, however, it has addictive qualities and with chronic use, can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Knowing the full spectrum of risks and dangers associated can help those who struggle to begin their recovery process. 

An Overview of Ketamine

At this point, it is important to briefly discuss exactly what ketamine is. Originally developed for medical use, mainly in anesthesia and pain management, this substance is commonly used in both human and veterinary medicine. It blocks the NMDA receptor in the brain, leading to pain relief and sedation.

Ketamine has also been used, in recent years, to help with the treatment of severe depression as well as other mood disorders. However, this drug is often used recreationally as a hallucinogen drug that can result in severe adverse reactions to the drug.

Ketamine Uses and Risks

Ketamine is versatile. Although originally developed as an anesthetic, it is still widely used in human and veterinary medicine. This is due to its rapid-acting effects. In recent years it has become popular for use in the treatment of severe depression, and treatment-resistant depression because the effects can be felt in hours versus weeks.

However, the risks are great. Chronic use can lead to ketamine bladder syndrome, resulting in urinary tract issues. Cognitive impairments can also occur with long-term use, leading to memory loss and attention issues. It is also a highly addictive substance that leads to major difficulties in life if dependence occurs. 

What are the Long-Term Effects of Ketamine

The long-term effects of ketamine can lead to devastating results. Using this substance can lead to bladder issues, including ketamine bladder syndrome. This condition causes pain, urgency, and frequency when urinating. With long-term use, individuals may experience cognitive impairments, including memory loss, struggles with attention and learning, and reduced cognitive flexibility.

One of the most severe risks of using this drug includes tolerance and dependence. Prolonged use can result in needing higher and higher amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effects, inevitably resulting in addiction. Prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it hard to stop using. 

Short-Term Effects of the Drug

In short, this drug can have effects both physically and psychologically on those who use it. Physically, users may experience increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Due to these short-term effects, the individual may also experience impaired motor skills.

Psychologically, this substance can cause a sense of detachment from the body. It can also lead to vivid dreams, hallucinations, and a distorted sense of reality, including time and space. 

Ketamine Combined With Other Drugs

The long-term effects of ketamine use combined with other drugs can be extremely dangerous. Not only can it complicate the substance use disorder, but it can also cause risky and life-threatening reactions to the combinations. Mixing drugs can lead to exacerbation of the effects of the substances, making it difficult for the body to regulate the symptoms.


Ketamine mixed with alcohol can have devastating effects. Alcohol is a depressant. While it lowers inhibitions and gives a sense of giddiness with intoxication, it also contributes to worsening depression in individuals already struggling with this mental health condition.

Ketamine is a sedative drug, and with alcohol being a depressant, it can result in slowed breathing, slowed motor movements, and cognitive impairment. When it is mixed with alcohol, these symptoms can be heightened, and make it difficult to breathe and move. 


On the other hand, mixing this substance with cocaine can have opposing effects. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that can cause increased alertness and energy, as well as a sense of euphoria in those who use this drug. Ketamine can cause hallucinations and sedation, while cocaine, a stimulant, causes an increased heart rate and alertness.

These contrasting effects can cause cardiovascular problems as well as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. Psychological conditions can also be exacerbated due to the mixture of these two substances. It can lead to confusion, agitation, and increased risk of accident or injury. As with alcohol, combining these two drugs can result in an increased risk of dependence and addiction. 

Ketamine for Depression: Friend or Foe?

In recent years ketamine has increased in popularity for the treatment of severe depression or depression that has been resistant to other forms of treatment. During treatment, this drug is administered at low doses. The individual can feel the antidepressant effects, typically, in hours versus the weeks traditional antidepressants need to take effect.

However, this substance is highly addictive. The long-term effects of ketamine can include dependence and addiction, and the use of this substance for the treatment of depression can increase this risk. 

Ketamine Withdrawal and Detox

Withdrawal from ketamine can be extremely difficult due to both the physical and psychological symptoms. While the physical withdrawal symptoms may not be as severe as other drugs such as opioids and fentanyl, people still experience discomfort and severe cravings, often resulting in relapse. Other symptoms someone may experience include agitation, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Detox from this drug should be conducted in a professional medical setting where withdrawal symptoms can be monitored and addressed to prevent complications. This helps to ensure the individual’s safety throughout the process and provides much-needed support as they begin recovering. 

Overcoming Ketamine Addiction

Despite the medical uses, Ketamine is an extremely addictive substance that can lead to negative long-term effects with abuse. It can lead to physical and emotional upheaval in an individual’s life. Often, people are unaware of the risks associated with this substance.

There is help available when these people have a hard time not using it. If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help. At Empowered Recovery Center we offer state-of-the-art help to aid in assisting these individuals regain control of their lives.

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