Is Ketamine Addictive?

Table of Contents

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?

Ketamine, like all Schedule III controlled substances, may lead to low or moderate physical dependence, and high psychological dependence.

Those who use illicit ketamine experience brief and euphoric effects, with tolerance to the drug forming. As the effects triggered by ketamine diminish, more of the drug is required. Increased consumption will accelerate the development of physical dependence. If you become dependent on ketamine, you will experience aggravating withdrawal symptoms when you discontinue use.

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

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.

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.

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 513-757-5000 today and initiate your recovery from ketamine addiction right away.

Table of Contents