Ketamine hydrochloride is a Schedule III controlled substance. More commonly referred to as ketamine, it is a non-barbiturate dissociative drug that is mostly used as an anesthetic.
The effects of Ketamine usually last around an hour with lingering side effects lasting as long as 24 hours. As is the case with the duration of other drugs, this can vary from person to person.
What Is Ketamine?
Psychiatrists in Mexico and the United States began experimenting with ketamine in the late 1960s, but trials were restricted in the 1970s due to the drug’s effects.
Today, ketamine can be safely used in a hospital environment to provide a sedative effect with little risk of causing the hallucinations that are associated with larger doses.
Legal ketamine use is restrictive. It is routinely used as a veterinarian tranquilizer for large game, but it may also be used in humans as a dissociative anesthetic for select surgical procedures.
In recent years, the indications for ketamine use have multiplied to include treatment for chronic pain and severe, treatment-resistant depression.
When ketamine is used to treat depression, it is usually administered as a nasal spray under the brand name Spravato (esketamine/S-ketamine).
This therapy is often combined with the use of a traditional antidepressant according to the guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, S-ketamine may also be administered intravenously to provide ketamine infusion therapy for depression or pain relief, but this is considered an off-label use.
In addition to its legal uses, ketamine has also been used as a party drug because of its psychoactive properties. While its popularity has declined since the 1990s, it is abused today.
Known as “special k,” illicit ketamine was most commonly snorted at large-scale events, like raves to produce hallucinations and distortions of reality.
Ketamine abuse of this kind is an experience often referred to as “falling into a k-hole.”
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How Long Ketamine Lasts
In comparison to other drugs, ketamine has a short half-life of about 45 minutes. In most cases, the drug is completely processed by the body in under six hours.
There are, of course, some factors that can influence how long ketamine lasts in your system. Examples include your body mass and the amount of ketamine that you take.
In general, the initial effects of ketamine last for about an hour but may last longer depending on the method of drug administration.
When Ketamine Is Injected Intramuscularly
When ketamine is injected intramuscularly, it takes about four minutes to act and usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.
When Ketamine Is Injected Intravenously
If a medical provider gives ketamine through intravenous injection, the patient will experience the onset of the drug within seconds. With proper dosing, the effects will last five to ten minutes.
When Ketamine Is Inhaled
When ketamine is inhaled, either illicitly or as a legitimate Spravato prescription, it takes between five and 15 minutes to take effect, then lasts about an hour.
When Ketamine Is Swallowed
When ketamine is swallowed it takes about 30 minutes for the drug to begin working.
Effects Of Ketamine During And After Use
Ketamine has a long list of short-term effects and long-term risks. While many are mild to moderate, more serious risks can include flashbacks and other disruptive side effects.
When used without the oversight of a healthcare professional, ketamine overdose is also a danger.
Short-Term Effects Of Ketamine
The short-term effects of ketamine include feeling happy and relaxed and having a sense of detachment, and they can last for about an hour.
A person who uses higher doses of ketamine may experience hallucinations.
Other short-term effects include:
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
- slurred speech
- violent behavior
As you come down off ketamine you may experience a continuation of anxiety and clumsiness along with memory loss, disorientation, and achiness.
Long-term Effects Of Ketamine
Ketamine abuse comes with its dangers. Like the abuse of other hallucinogens or psychedelics, regular abuse of ketamine over a long period can damage your health.
In addition to flashbacks, ketamine can cause the following long-term effects:
- abdominal pain
- changes in personality
- memory problems
- damage to the sense of smell (from snorting the drug)
- poor liver or kidney function
Ketamine Bladder Syndrome
Long-term use of ketamine can lead to ketamine bladder syndrome. This condition is painful and can cause incontinence and ulceration of the bladder.
Ketamine And Poly-Substance Use
Long-term ketamine use may create a tolerance to its effects. To get the same effect, many people who abuse ketamine for an extended period experiment with polysubstance use.
Substances used with ketamine may include:
- opiates or opioids
How Long Can Ketamine Be Detected In Urine?
For the half-life of ketamine, your body processes the drug and leaves behind metabolites that are detectable in standard drug tests.
Depending on a couple of factors, ketamine could be detectable in your urine for as little as a day or much longer than that.
Studies have shown that repeated uses of ketamine can result in detection times lasting for up to two weeks through a urine test.
FAQs About How Long Ketamine Lasts
If you want to know more about Ketamine, please consult the list of frequently asked questions below
Does Ketamine Last Longer If You Take It With Other Drugs?
Not necessarily. The effect of the drug may intensify if you take it with other depressants or change if you take it with stimulants, such as amphetamines.
However, the actual half-life of ketamine will not change, even though it may feel like it is lasting longer. Taking ketamine with other drugs can be very dangerous and lead to overdose.
How Long Does Ketamine Withdrawal Last?
Ketamine withdrawal can last a little over two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak around day three and taper off for the remaining time.
If you want to stop using ketamine, you should seek professional detox help and manage drug cravings safely.
Ketamine withdrawal symptoms can include:
- loss of appetite
- rapid or irregular heart
Can You Build Tolerance To Ketamine That Shortens The High?
Yes, you can build a tolerance to ketamine. This usually results in taking the drug multiple times to achieve the same high or taking it with other drugs to intensify the effects of ketamine.
Find Treatment For Ketamine Addiction Today
If you are facing ketamine abuse, you can find addiction treatment today.
We offer confidential help to people like you or your loved one who need to attend a treatment program for substance abuse.
Call our helpline today to learn more about your treatment options.
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- Alcohol and Drug Foundation
- BJPsych Open
- Forensic Science Research
- National Center for Biotechnology Information
- National Center for Biotechnology Information
- The New Yorker
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration