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Side effects of Ketamine

What is ketamine

Medical practitioners and veterinarians use Ketamine for an anesthetic. Some people use it illegally for recreational purposes to get high. Ketamine is a dissociative drug. It works by acting on different chemicals present in the brain to make auditory and visual distortion and detaches the user from reality and his surrounding environment. The illegal form of ketamine comes as a white or off-white powder. It can also come as pills or dissolved in a liquid. Several clinical trials have assessed IV ketamine therapy and the outcomes show promising results for the treatment of depression.


Side effects

Ketamine abuse can be related to both long term and short-term adverse effects:


This includes lack of attention, learning, and memory impairment. The consumer will feel in a dreamlike state, will be hallucinating, confused, and will have elevated blood pressure. The person can experience unconsciousness and dangerously slow breathing too.


Long-term complications of IV ketamine therapy include ulcers and pain in the bladder, problems in the kidneys, stomach aches, impaired memory, and depression.

The most common adverse effect related to IV ketamine therapy is when it is used medically, it can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision, drowsiness, dysphoria along with confusion. The risks of HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases that can be communicated through shared needles are also high with IV ketamine therapy.

The use of Ketamine might be fatal for people who are alcohol or acutely intoxicated with alcohol. The increased risk of toxicity was found in animals when they were given a combination of ketamine with caffeine. This is concerning for people who consume energy drinks and then get to do ketamine abused in nightclubs.


The intensity and frequency of adverse effects are linked to the dose of the drug consumed. Systemic side effects of ketamine therapy infusion include:

  1. Cardiovascular:

Chest pain, increased or depressed heart rate, elevated blood pressure, dangerous changes in blood pressure

  1. Central Nervous System (CNS): 

Agitation, changes in sight, sound, shapes, time, and body image, confusion, feelings of detachment, dizziness, drowsiness, flashbacks, hallucinations, loss of energy, loss of coordination, numbness, sedation.

  1. Gastrointestinal

Nausea and vomiting.

  1. Respiratory

Increase in breathing rate

  1.  Other

             Salivation (IV use)


The side effects of the central nervous system like agitation are less severe as compared to the ones seen with PCP abuse. For those people who use ketamine for abusive purposes through insufflation(“snorting”), the side effects will be less severe.

Central nervous system side effects such as agitation are less intense than those seen with PCP abuse. Rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, and impaired consciousness on presentation to the emergency department may be the most common effects with "snorting”.

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