Ketamine is abused for the euphoric high it can produce, but its use also comes with a hangover-like comedown. While this comedown is somewhat unavoidable, there are some things you can do to reduce its severity.
Ketamine (brand name: Ketalar) is classified as a dissociative anesthetic drug (or as a dissociative hallucinogen) that has been available since the 1970s. It was primarily designed to replace another dissociative anesthetic, phencyclidine (PCP).
It is most commonly used as an anesthetic for veterinary purposes, occasionally used for anesthesia in humans, and to treat severe pain, such as the pain that occurs in severe burn patients, on the battlefield, or in children who do not respond to other forms of pain relief.
Ketamine may still occasionally be used as an anesthetic in humans because it does not produce the extensive decreased breathing rate that occurs with opiates and many of the sedatives. It does lead to a mild suppression of breathing, however, especially when taken in higher doses. The drug appears to have some utility for the treatment of clinical depression, but it is not yet approved for that purpose.
Ketamine goes by many street names, such as K, Special K, and Cat Valium. Younger individuals primarily abuse it.
It is considered to be one of the more popular club or rave drugs along with MDMA (ecstasy or Molly). It produces sedation, dissociation (feeling as if one is leaving their body or as if things around them are not real), hallucinations, and feelings of warmth and empathy.
It is a controlled substance and classified in the Schedule III category. Chronic use of the drug is believed to produce significant tolerance and the possible development of physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms).
The comedown or hangover-type effects that occur after a session of recreational ketamine abuse are dependent on the amount of the drug person used, the person’s tolerance level to the drug, and other factors, such as what types of drugs were used along with ketamine, the individual’s metabolism and body weight, and how the drug was administered (injecting, snorting, smoking, or taking it orally).
Various effects are associated with the comedown from ketamine. They are:
The K-hole experience occurs when ketamine use produces a coma-like state where the person is experiencing significant psychosis (hallucinations) and dissociation (feeling detached from oneself and reality). It can be very frightening and disturbing.
When users begin to recover, they may still be very lethargic, distressed, and demonstrate some residual signs of psychosis. The experience can be potentially life-threatening due to alterations in breathing, changes in heart rate, and the potential to experience seizures.
Although one can find numerous cures for dealing with the “morning after” from any substance of abuse, the only effective resolution for recovering from ketamine use is time. Metabolism will eliminate the remaining drug from the person’s system, and any aftereffects associated with ketamine use will slowly dissipate over time.
There are several strategies a person can use to maximize the functioning of their metabolism and to deal with the distress associated with the aftereffects of ketamine abuse, but the only real cure for a ketamine comedown is the passage of time.
Although dehydration does not fully explain hangover effects from any drug, remaining hydrated can help one’s metabolism work more efficiently and optimally eliminate the drug from the system.
Sleeping off the effects of the ketamine comedown may help to reduce any distress associated with the aftereffects of use. This strategy simply capitalizes on using the passage of time as the appropriate approach to dealing with the comedown.
Using distraction techniques, such as socializing with others, meditating, taking a walk, or engaging in other mild exercises can reduce the subjective experience of the ketamine comedown.
In some cases, the use of over-the-counter drugs in moderation to deal with specific symptoms such as headaches or nausea may produce some relief; however, they can also exacerbate the situation in some people.
Taking more ketamine can effectively decrease the immediate effects of the ketamine comedown. Eventually, the person will have to stop using the drug, and they may experience an even heavier comedown.
There are several strategies for dealing with a ketamine comedown that should be avoided.
Don’t use more ketamine. This will simply accelerate the cycle of drug abuse and lead to quicker development of a substance use disorder (addiction) to ketamine. It can also increase the risk of overdose on the drug.
Other drugs of abuse like alcohol, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, and others should also be avoided.
Herbal remedies may provide some relief; however, many of these herbal substances are not governed by manufacturing standards or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. There is a potential for herbal remedies to actually make the symptoms worse.
Using megavitamin supplements can place a burden on the liver, and this can lead to long-term problems. Although megavitamin use is sometimes endorsed online, there is no scientific or research evidence to suggest that it works.
The only sure way to avoid a ketamine comedown is not to use the drug at all. Individuals who have been abusing ketamine regularly should seek the assistance of an addiction treatment professional to stop using the drug.
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