It is crucial to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet addiction may pose even a higher danger than the virus.

Learn about recovery during the pandemic:

The Effects of Ketamine: How Does Ketamine Affect Users?

Important InformationThis information is for educational purposes only. We never invite or suggest the use, production or purchase of any these substances. Addiction Resource and it’s employees, officers, managers, agents, authors, editors, producers, and contributors shall have no direct or indirect liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage, or adverse consequences alleged to have happened as a consequence of material on this website. See full text of disclaimer.

Ketamine is a strong sedative used during surgeries or prescribed for pain relief during recovery. Because it is a psychoactive drug causing a wide range of effects, many people used it for recreational purposes. But the pleasant experiences are often accompanied by unpleasant or even dangerous effects. There are many immediate dangers of consuming ketamine, and even prudent consumers are not safe from the damaging side-effects. Read all about the consequences of taking ketamine.

Table of Contents

Ketamine is used recreationally to achieve such effects as pain relief, relaxation, hallucination, euphoria, and out-of-body experiences. Moreover, recreational use is considered an abuse and can be legally prosecuted.

Side Effects Of Ketamine

Side effects of ketamine include an increased heart rate, confusion, a “bad trip,” and loss of sensimotor sensations. These are primarily cause by hallucinations and loss of body control. Stronger side effects may include complete loss of motor control, anxiety, amnesia, and the “k-hole,” or a kind of complete detachment from reality.

What are the long-term effects of ketamine?

Long-term effects of ketamine abuse include abdominal pain, kidney failure, and severe bladder problems such as incontinence and ulcers. Additionally, ketamine use may trigger or aggravate mental problems such as anxiety and depression. Ketamine, as an anesthetic, can cause injuries to go untreated and worsen over long periods. Long-term effects also include vision and memory problems.

Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options.Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Short-Term Ketamine Side Effects

A ketamine trip usually lasts between 30 minutes and one hour. Users typically experience a range of positive and adverse consequences. Eventually, that depends on the dose and the regularity of substance of abuse.

Desired Effects

Ketamine consumers seek some very particular effects when taking that substance.

Here are the most common expectations:

  • Pain relief. Many people mainly use ketamine for pain relief. This is often the case for patients after surgery and may continue using ketamine after hospitalization.
  • Relaxation. The sedative aspect of ketamine directly affects a user’s muscles, including the heart and respiratory muscles. This ends up making people feel deeply relaxed.
  • Hallucination. Ketamine can distort a user’s senses and make them see, hear or feel what is in reality not there. Users also perceive time and space in a distorted manner.
  • Euphoria. The relaxation and hallucinatory effects can cause feelings of wellness and extreme happiness.
  • Out-of-body experiences. If the sedative effects are strong enough, users can lose control over their limbs. This experience, combined with intense hallucinations, is a state that users refer to as the “k-hole.”

Negative Side Effects

In addition to the pleasure, there are many unpleasant, painful or even dangerous side effects of taking ketamine. They are not always predictable, but here are typical examples:

  • Increased heart rate. The drug elevates the heartbeat, which in turn raises blood pressure.
  • Confusion. The hallucinations may be strong enough to cause the user to lose grip on
  • Bad trip. Because ketamine is a psychotropic substance, the quality of the experience is highly correlated with the user’s state of mind.
  • Loss of sensorimotor sensations. The anaesthetic nature of the drug can cause the user to have less control over their bodies. Limbs, tongue, and facial muscles can be affected.

These sensations are not pleasant, but not particularly dangerous and should fade in several hours.

Those who took stronger doses can expect additional effects such as:

  • Complete loss of motor coordination. A user may lose the ability to move or talk at all.
  • “K-hole”. In extreme cases, ketamine users may completely lose touch with reality.
  • Anxiety. Loss of control can lead to anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.
  • Amnesia.

Immediate Dangers of Ketamine Consumption

  • Date rape. Ketamine is a colorless and odorless drug and can easily be ingested undetected. It is a matter of minutes until the drug begins to act, once in the body. The sedative effect, overall confusion and memory loss makes victims an easy prey for sexual predators.
  • Insensitivity to pain. As a powerful sedative, the point of ketamine is to eliminate the feelings of pain. That might look seem advantageous, but only to some extent. Pain is a body signal that something is wrong.
  • Toxic interaction with other substances. Ketamine is often consumed as a powder. It has a very convenient consistency to mix it with other substances, but some mix it with alcohol or other drugs and which can be toxic and very dangerous.

If ketamine is mixed with amphetamines, a user’s blood pressure can reach dangerous levels. Mixing ketamine with depressants can be equally dangerous; heroin or alcohol mixed with ketamine can lead to respiratory depression, and breathing can halt. Seizures area also a potential side effect.

Ketamine Overdose

Usually, doctors watch out for are signs like these:
General muscular issues:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of coordination or control over limbs
  • Slurred speech

Respiratory issues:

  • Labored breaths
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory depression in general


  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Impaired vision
  • Seeming decline of cognitive functions
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures or death

The problem is that ketamine can be difficult to dose. It is so powerful that an accidental overdose can easily occur, especially if mixed it with other drugs.

Long-term Effects of Using Ketamine

Even if people measure dosages carefully to avoid overdoses and interactions with other drugs – they are also at risk. Even small doses taken regularly can develop addiction and damage the brain and other organs.

  • First of all, ketamine is an anesthetic that eliminates pain. In that situation, it is easy for someone to get hurt without noticing it. People can break limbs and unknowingly cripple them even more, or can cause infections to worsen.
  • Several studies report that long-term ketamine users suffer from cognitive impairment, such as vision and memory problems.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Ketamine and its metabolites can cause kidney failure.
  • Ketamine can cause severe bladder problems such as incontinence and ulcers.
  • Ketamine abusers may develop depression.

Both occasional and regular drug users and ketamine addicts often cut the drug with other substances. In those cases, it is impossible to predict the exact long-term symptoms and risks. What is certain is that mixing ketamine with other substances is dangerous.

  1. Guarraci F. A. et al. The effects of ketamine on sexual behavior, anxiety, and locomotion in female rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2018. 165: 36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2017.12.004.
  2. Cvrcek P. Side effects of ketamine in the long-term treatment of neuropathic pain. Pain Medicine. 2008; 9(2): 253-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2007.00314.x.

About Author

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.


Leave a comment

  • Todd Holgate
    What about 12.5mg twice daily for pain and nerve damage from a pain DR.