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Ketamine Withdrawal and Detox

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Dash, PHD

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Last Updated - 07/15/2020

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Updated 07/15/2020

Key Takeaways

  • Ketamine withdrawal can cause restlessness, irritability, tremors, and sweating
  • The half-life of ketamine is relatively short, and ketamine is normally cleared from the body in about 24 hours
  • Medical detox provides professional supervision to minimize risk during withdrawal, and medically assisted detox may be appropriate for some patients
  • Outpatient detox may be an option for people who take lower doses of ketamine and do not have a co-occurring illness, but it should be approved by a health professional to ensure safety
  • Finding the right treatment center depends on individual needs, including proximity to home, services, and available treatment types

Stopping ketamine after chronic use can result in withdrawal symptoms. Detox programs are an important first step in recovery and can support safe ketamine detox.

Ketamine is a strong prescription drug that can be used as an anesthetic or pain reliever, and it is beginning to see use as a treatment for depression. Ketamine has a strong tranquilizing effect that can cause people to hallucinate or dissociate. This has made it an increasingly popular party drug, and regular recreational use is linked to an increased risk of ketamine addiction.

When the body adjusts to regular ketamine use, it can start depending on ketamine to function normally. Ending ketamine use suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts, and these symptoms can range from minor to severe.

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Regular use or misuse of ketamine can result in drug tolerance. This occurs when the body adjusts to the presence of ketamine, so a larger dose of the drug is required to produce the same effects.

Once the body becomes dependent on ketamine to function normally, abruptly ending ketamine use can produce a range of potentially dangerous physical and psychological symptoms. This may be caused by changes in neurochemicals like dopamine that were impacted by ketamine use.

Although the exact physiology of ketamine withdrawal symptoms is not understood, there are reports of unpleasant side effects that occur after stopping ketamine use. While some people may experience severe symptoms, others may have few or no symptoms.

Some of the main side effects of ketamine withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Unusual or scary dreams
  • Intense ketamine cravings
  • Mania
  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoria

Ketamine withdrawal side effects can be unpleasant but also dangerous. Detox is the first stage of the recovery process, and seeking treatment can help to ensure a safe and lower-risk withdrawal process.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay In Your System?

The effects of ketamine can be felt quickly, usually within minutes of use. Ketamine also has a relatively short half-life, and 50% of ketamine is cleared from the body in approximately 2 to 4  hours. The exact time for how long ketamine stays in your system is influenced by individual factors, such as gender, weight, and frequency of use. Although the effects of ketamine wear off fairly quickly, it can take up to 24 hours for ketamine to leave the system entirely.

Ketamine’s short half-life can be helpful for medical situations, but it also makes the drug a target for misuse. Because the effects of ketamine can wear off quickly, people may take repeated doses for a prolonged effect. Repeated use can prolong the withdrawal process and may contribute to more severe symptoms.

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline

How long ketamine withdrawal lasts can be different for every person. When ketamine use is stopped suddenly, intense drug cravings are a very common side effect. Other ketamine withdrawal effects, like restlessness, irritability or mood changes, might last for several hours to several days.

The different stages of ketamine withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and it can be tempting to take another dose of ketamine to relieve symptoms. Seeking treatment and medical assistance can help keep the detox process safe, and it also increases the likelihood of success.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is often the first stage of treatment for ketamine misuse or addiction, and it takes place in a hospital, inpatient medical detox or addiction treatment facility. Medical detox involves supervision from doctors and facility health professionals who monitor patients as ketamine is cleared from their system.

As there can be a number of sometimes unpredictable withdrawal symptoms, medical detox is considered the safest option for stopping ketamine use. There are many options for medical drug detox locally in Florida and throughout the country.

Medication-Assisted Detox

Medically assisted detox may be included as part of the medical detox process. Medically assisted detox incorporates prescription medications that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and minimize health risks associated with detox. Although initial models of substance misuse treatment focused on abstinence from all drugs, more current approaches use prescription medication when it can benefit treatment and recovery.

Medication may be appropriate if withdrawal symptoms are high-risk or severe, and these medications are provided by doctors and trained health professionals. Medication might include painkillers as well as drugs that reduce drug cravings or relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Outpatient Detox

Outpatient detox is a treatment option that involves clearing ketamine from the system at home or outside of a medical treatment facility. Outpatient detox may still include attending regular medical appointments or therapy, but it generally offers more flexibility. Outpatient detox is not for everyone, and it is usually considered most appropriate following a medical detox or inpatient treatment program.

Outpatient detox may be appropriate for people who:

  • Are only taking a low dose of ketamine
  • Do not have any co-occurring substance abuse or physical health conditions
  • Have received medical clearance for outpatient treatment

Even if ketamine use is irregular or at moderate doses, there are still risks associated with stopping suddenly, so outpatient detox should not be taken lightly. Outpatient detox programs are available in West Palm Beach for those who wish to begin their recovery process close to home.

Finding a Detox Center

Finding the right drug detox treatment center can depend on many factors, such as available facility services and proximity to home. The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health is part of a nationwide network of treatment facilities that offer professional and comfortable detox services.

The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health offers a detox center and detox programs located in South Florida for people struggling with ketamine addiction. We offer medical assessment, supervision, and medically assisted detox for patients beginning their treatment for ketamine misuse or addiction. Following detox, there are various options for continuing inpatient or outpatient treatment programs.

There are a few important considerations to make when finding the right detox center. If you are considering treatment, it is important to discuss treatment optionsinsurance coverage, and expectations of ketamine detox, therapy, and ongoing treatment. Facility staff can help to provide information and answer any questions or concerns.

View Sources

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Zanos, Panos; et al. “Ketamine and Ketamine Metabolite Pharmacology: Insights into Therapeutic Mechanisms.” Pharmacological Reviews, July 2018. Accessed December 13, 2019.

Ezquerra-Romano, Ivan; Krupitsky, Lawn W.; Morgan, C.J.A. “Ketamine for the treatment of addiction: evidence and potential mechanisms.” Neuropharmacology, November 2018. Accessed December 13, 2019.

Lu, Yuan-Yuan; et al. “Mania following ketamine abuse.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, January 2016. Accessed December 13, 2019.

Kokkinou, M., Ashok, A.H., Howes, O.D. “The effects of ketamine on dopaminergic function: meta-analysis and review of the implications for neuropsychiatric disorders.” Molecular Psychiatry. October 2017. Accessed December 19, 2019.

Chen, Wen-Yin; Huang, Ming-Chyi; Lin, Shih-Ku. “Gender differences in subjective discontinuation symptoms associated with ketamine use.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, September 2014. Accessed December 19, 2019.

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