Is Ketamine Addictive?

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Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to induce anesthesia in humans and animals. More recently, ketamine has been used off-label to manage TRD (treatment-resistant depression). You may be wondering: is ketamine addictive?

A Schedule III controlled substance, ketamine has therapeutic effects coupled with a potential for misuse, physical dependence, and psychological dependence.

If you’re wondering “Is ketamine addictive when used for depression?”, this guide outlines how the majority of ketamine abuse effects are triggered by recreational use rather than medical use.

Is ketamine addictive, though?

Can You Get Addicted to Ketamine?

Yes, it is possible to become addicted to ketamine. A dissociative anesthetic, the drug can produce hallucinogenic and out-of-body experiences. While ketamine is incredibly useful in medical settings under the supervision of trained medical professionals, it is sometimes abused recreationally for its psychoactive effects. 

Like all Schedule III controlled substances, Ketamine use may lead to low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence. This can cause an addictive cycle where you start craving the drug because your body has adjusted chemically to its presence. 

Abusing ketamine can also lead to the development of tolerance, meaning that the user has to take more and more of the drug to produce the same effects. This can become dangerous as physical dependence becomes stronger, and worsening the consequences of quitting as withdrawal symptoms become more and more intense as more of the drug is consumed regularly. 

Ketamine addiction can become a serious and debilitating issue for those who are dependent on the drug. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to ketamine, it’s important to reach out to a treatment center specializing in drug addiction treatment. Treatment for ketamine addiction typically includes behavioral therapy, counseling, and provides a reliable accountability and support system to ensure long-term recovery.

Why is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine can be addictive for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Dopamine release: Ketamine can cause an increase in dopamine release in the brain’s reward pathway. This release of dopamine can create feelings of euphoria and pleasure, which can be addictive.
  • Tolerance: As with many drugs, people who use ketamine regularly can develop a tolerance to its effects. This means that they will need to use larger and larger doses of ketamine to achieve the same initial level of euphoria.
  • Psychological dependence: If you’re still wondering, “Can you get addicted to ketamine?”, the substance can be psychologically addictive. Some people come to rely on the drug to cope with stress or emotional difficulties and may experience intense cravings for the drug when they are not using it.
  • Withdrawal: When someone stops using ketamine after prolonged use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. These symptoms can be difficult to cope with and can lead to continued use of the drug.
  • Social factors: Peer pressure and the desire to fit in with a particular social group can also contribute to the development of ketamine drug addiction
woman looking down representing why is ketamine addictive

Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine abuse is any use of the substance that is neither medically prescribed nor monitored. Any abuse of ketamine is liable to trigger an array of adverse outcomes.

How is ketamine abused, then?

Ketamine abuse may involve various routes of administration, including:

  • Smoking
  • Snorting
  • Injecting

Recreational ketamine abuse can be dangerous because of the way the drug may induce hallucinations, impair judgment, and cause disorientation. These consequences put you at increased risk of accidents and injuries.

Long-term ketamine abuse is also associated with serious long-term complications, such as cognitive impairment, problems in the urinary system, and addiction.

Ketamine abuse may also bring about psychological side effects that include depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Ongoing abuse of ketamine may lead to dependence and addiction, typically requiring professional treatment for a sustained recovery.

How to Treat Ketamine Addiction

Addiction – clinically described as substance use disorder – is a medically recognized brain disorder that is considered chronic, progressive, and potentially life-threatening. Ketamine addiction symptoms are outlined in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  Like all addictions, ketamine addiction is characterized by tolerance, escalation, loss of control, increased risk-taking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and relapse.

Most ketamine addiction treatment programs begin with a supervised medical detoxification, enabling you to safely stop using the drug and purge all toxins from your system.

Detox addresses the issue of physical dependence, but ongoing treatment will be required to address the psychological component of ketamine addiction. While there are no medications approved for treating ketamine addiction, behavioral interventions deliver positive outcomes.

Most ketamine addictions respond well to intensive outpatient treatment, allowing you to connect with the care you need without neglecting your recovery. Working closely with qualified therapists, counselors, and addiction specialists, you’ll discover how to manage your emotions without resorting to substance abuse.

Maintaining your recovery from ketamine addiction will demand ongoing work and support from professionals and peers undergoing their own recovery journeys.

group therapy session representing ketamine abuse treatment

Ketamine Abuse Treatment

Any form of ketamine abuse can easily escalate into a serious problem that requires professional treatment to overcome. Here are some of the common approaches to treating ketamine abuse:

  • Detoxification: The first step in treating ketamine abuse is to stop using the drug. This process, known as detoxification or detox, can be challenging due to the presentation of withdrawal symptoms as your body struggles to cope without a substance on which it is dependent. Medical professionals can provide support and medications to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and MI (motivational interviewing), can help people to change their thoughts and behaviors related to ketamine use. These therapies can help individuals identify triggers for drug use and develop coping strategies to prevent relapse derailing recovery.
  • Medications: There are no medications specifically approved for the treatment of ketamine abuse, but some medications used for other types of drug addiction – buprenorphine, for instance – may be helpful in managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.
  • Support groups: Support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can provide peer support and encouragement for those in recovery from ketamine addiction.
  • Inpatient or outpatient ketamine rehab: Depending on the severity of your ketamine addiction and the co-occurrence of mental health conditions, ongoing treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting will help you move from ketamine abuse into ongoing recovery.

 Ketamine as A Drug Abuse Treatment

Some research suggests that medically administered ketamine to treat drug addiction or alcoholism may be effective.

Although studies have been hampered by methodological limitations, preliminary results appear promising. Ketamine has been demonstrated to:

  • Promote abstinence in those addicted to heroin and alcohol who have undergone detoxification.
  • Reduce cravings for cocaine in those using the drug but not engaging in professional treatment.

Further randomized and controlled trials are essential to confirm the efficacy of ketamine as a drug addiction treatment.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Ketamine infusion therapy is a medical treatment that involves the administration of ketamine through an IV (intravenous) infusion. This therapy is used to treat a variety of medical and mental health conditions, including:

  • Treatment-Resistant Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines

During ketamine infusion therapy, the drug is administered slowly through an IV line over a period of several hours. The dose and duration of treatment are determined by the prescribing healthcare provider, and the treatment is typically performed in a hospital or clinic setting under close medical supervision.

Ketamine infusion therapy is thought to work by modulating the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including glutamate and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation and pain perception. The therapy has shown promising results in improving symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, even in those who have not responded positively to other treatments.

Ketamine infusion therapy is a specialized treatment that should only be administered by trained medical professionals under close supervision. If you are interested in ketamine infusion therapy, it is vital to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider to determine if it is the right treatment for you.


While consuming recreational Ketamine can be highly dangerous, Ketamine infusion therapy is considered generally safe when administered in a supervised, medical environment. The most common side effects of medical Ketamine therapy are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

More serious side effects associated with ketamine infusion therapy include raised heart rate and blood pressure, as well as breathing problems.


Is ketamine habit forming?

Yes, ketamine can be psychologically habit-forming due to the intensity of its euphoric effects.

Is ketamine physically addictive?

Yes, the sustained use of ketamine may cause tolerance and physical dependence to develop.

Is ketamine for depression addictive?

When taken for therapeutic purposes in small doses, ketamine is not generally addictive.

ohio community center building representing ketamine addiction treatment

Get Help for Ketamine Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you have become dependent on ketamine or addicted to the dissociative anesthetic, Ohio Recovery Centers specialize in the intensive outpatient treatment of ketamine addictions in Cincinnati.

If you require a supervised medical detox to streamline the intensity of withdrawal, we can connect you with licensed medical detox centers throughout Cincinnati. After a week or so of detoxification, you can engage with one of our ketamine addiction treatment programs.

At Ohio Recovery Centers, you can tackle the psychological aspect of ketamine addiction by engaging with behavioral therapies like psychotherapy and counseling.

During your ketamine addiction treatment program at our Cincinnati treatment center, you will identify what triggers you to abuse ketamine, and you will develop healthy coping techniques to implement when faced with stressors in your recovery. All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs include a robust aftercare component to give you the strongest chance of recovery without relapse.

Call (877) 679-2132 today and initiate your recovery from ketamine addiction right away.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn