Side Effects Of Ketamine In Your Body

Ketamine, a medication with a long history of use as an anesthetic and analgesic, has gained attention for its potential therapeutic benefits in certain psychiatric conditions. However, like any medication, ketamine is not without its potential side effects. 

From short-term effects such as dissociation and hallucinations to potential long-term consequences like cognitive impairment and urotoxicity, this discussion will explore the various ways ketamine can affect the body.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Ketamine has been a Schedule III controlled substance in the U.S. since 1999. However, in terms of misuse, it is not nearly as misused as substances like opioids and cocaine, as it was involved in only 0.033% of U.S Emergency Department visits in 2005 related to drug misuse.

What is Ketamine

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ketamine is a medication that has been used for various purposes, including as an anesthetic and analgesic (pain reliever). It was first developed in the 1960s and has since been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in both humans and animals.

As an anesthetic, ketamine induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia. It is commonly used in surgical procedures, particularly in emergency or pediatric settings, due to its rapid onset and short duration of action.

Ketamine has also gained attention for its off-label use as a recreational drug and in the field of psychiatry. In lower doses, ketamine can produce dissociative effects, leading to altered perceptions of sight and sound, as well as a sense of detachment from one’s body or surroundings. This has led to its recreational use as a hallucinogenic drug, often referred to as “Special K” or simply “K.”

What Are The Short-Term Effects Of Ketamine?

The short-term effects of ketamine can vary depending on the dose, route of administration, and individual factors. Here are some common effects that can occur shortly after taking ketamine:

  • Analgesia: Ketamine is known for its potent analgesic properties, providing pain relief when used in medical settings.
  • Dissociation: One of the characteristic effects of ketamine is dissociation, which involves a sense of detachment from one’s body or surroundings. This can lead to feelings of disconnection, confusion, and a distorted perception of time and space.
  • Hallucinations: Ketamine can induce hallucinations, which may involve visual, auditory, or tactile sensations that seem vivid and real.
  • Altered perception: Ketamine can alter sensory perception, leading to changes in how one experiences sights, sounds, and physical sensations.
  • Euphoria: Some individuals may experience a sense of euphoria or a “rush” when taking ketamine, which can contribute to its recreational use.
  • Sedation: Ketamine has sedating properties and can cause drowsiness, reduced coordination, and slowed reflexes.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Ketamine can cause temporary increases in heart rate and blood pressure. However, it is generally considered to have a more favorable cardiovascular profile compared to other anesthetic agents.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Ketamine can sometimes cause gastrointestinal disturbances, including nausea and vomiting.

The effects of ketamine can be unpredictable, and the drug may affect individuals differently. Additionally, the recreational use of ketamine carries additional risks and can lead to more intense and potentially harmful effects.

What are the Long Term Effects of Ketamine?

The long-term effects of ketamine are still being studied, and research in this area is ongoing. However, there are some potential concerns associated with prolonged or heavy use of ketamine. It’s important to note that the majority of the available research focuses on the recreational or misuse of ketamine rather than its controlled medical use. Here are some potential long-term effects:

  • Cognitive Impairment: Prolonged and heavy use of ketamine has been associated with cognitive deficits, including problems with attention, memory, and executive function. These effects may persist even after discontinuing ketamine use.
  • Dependence and Addiction: Ketamine has the potential for psychological dependence and addiction. Regular and misuse of ketamine can lead to the development of tolerance, meaning higher doses are required to achieve the desired effects. Abrupt discontinuation of ketamine can also lead to withdrawal symptoms.
  • Bladder and Urinary Tract Problems: Chronic ketamine use has been linked to a condition called ketamine bladder syndrome or urotoxicity. It can cause inflammation, ulceration, and scarring of the bladder and urinary tract, leading to symptoms such as frequent urination, pain during urination, and blood in the urine. In severe cases, it can result in bladder dysfunction and even the need for surgical intervention.
  • Psychological Effects: Ketamine can have psychological effects, particularly with heavy or prolonged use. These may include mood disturbances, anxiety, hallucinations, and changes in perception and thought patterns. However, it’s worth noting that ketamine has also shown promise in certain therapeutic applications, such as the treatment of depression.
  • Organ Damage: There is some evidence suggesting that long-term ketamine use may be associated with damage to other organs, such as the liver and kidneys. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent and mechanisms of this potential harm.

It’s crucial to approach ketamine use with caution and only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional, as the recreational or misuse of ketamine can significantly increase the risk of adverse long-term effects.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in the Body?

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in the Body?

The duration that ketamine stays in the body can vary depending on several factors, including the dose, frequency of use, individual metabolism, and the route of administration. Below are some general estimates for the elimination half-life and detection times of ketamine and its metabolites:

1. Ketamine

The elimination half-life of ketamine is relatively short, typically ranging from 2 to 4 hours. This means that it takes about this amount of time for the concentration of ketamine in the body to decrease by half. However, it’s important to note that the effects of ketamine may wear off before it is completely eliminated from the body.

2. Norketamine

Norketamine is a major metabolite of ketamine. It has a longer elimination half-life compared to ketamine, ranging from 3 to 4 hours. Norketamine can contribute to the overall duration of ketamine’s effects.

3. Detection in urine

Ketamine and its metabolites can be detected in urine for a longer period than their effects last. In general, ketamine can be detected in urine for up to 2-4 days after use, while norketamine can be detected for a longer period, up to 4-8 days.

4. Detection in blood

Ketamine and its metabolites can be detected in blood for a shorter duration compared to urine. Ketamine can typically be detected in blood for up to 48 hours, while norketamine may be detectable for a slightly longer period.

Note that these estimates are approximate and can vary between individuals. Additionally, different drug tests may have varying sensitivities and detection thresholds, which can influence the detectability of ketamine and its metabolites.

Is Ketamine Addictive?

Yes, ketamine has the potential to be addictive. While the risk of addiction may be lower compared to some other drugs, it is still present, particularly with regular and misuse of ketamine.

Ketamine can produce pleasurable and euphoric effects, which can contribute to its addictive potential. Regular use of ketamine can lead to the development of tolerance, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the same desired effects. This can increase the risk of escalating use and dependence.

Psychological dependence on ketamine can also occur, where individuals may feel a strong craving or compulsion to use the drug despite negative consequences. Dependence can lead to difficulties in controlling drug use and can be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms when ketamine use is discontinued.

Abrupt discontinuation of ketamine after prolonged or heavy use can result in withdrawal symptoms, which may include cravings, anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, and cognitive difficulties.

If you or someone you love is struggling with ketamine addiction or dependence, seek professional help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist at The Ridge, Ohio, who can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options.


In conclusion, it’s crucial to approach the topic of ketamine’s side effects in a compassionate and empathetic manner. While ketamine has its potential benefits, it’s equally important to acknowledge the possible risks it poses to the body. 

By understanding and discussing the short-term effects, such as dissociation and hallucinations, as well as the potential long-term consequences, like cognitive impairment and urotoxicity, we can make well-informed decisions about its use. 

Let’s prioritize responsible and informed usage, with the guidance of healthcare professionals, to ensure the utmost safety and well-being of individuals seeking the potential therapeutic benefits of ketamine.