acquiesce - June 15th, 2021

How to Help Someone with a Ketamine Addiction

Are you worried that someone you know has an addiction to Ketamine? Helping someone with a substance addiction can seem difficult and awkward, particularly if you are unsure of how they may respond. However, getting them the right kind of help is absolutely essential for their recovery. In this guide, we’ll be looking at some common signs and symptoms of a ketamine addiction and how to help someone suffering.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a drug which is used for starting and maintaining anaesthesia in humans and animals, however, it is also commonly used as a recreational drug. Over the past 30 years usage has become more common, especially among young people and teenagers in nightclubs and festivals.

How is Ketamine Taken?

There are a few ways in which individuals take ketamine but it is most commonly snorted in the form of a powder. People who take ketamine more regularly sometimes inject in order to get a more powerful high. It can also be swallowed as a tablet, though this is less common.

How Long Does Ketamine Take to Kick In?

When snorted, ketamine typically takes around fifteen minute to take effect. When taken orally, it usually takes longer from 20 minutes to an hour.

How Long Does the Effect Last?

Usually, the high can last between 30 minutes to an hour, though it largely depends on the quantity taken. ‘Falling into a k-hole’ is a slang term for when an individual takes a high enough dose of ketamine that they fall into a state between intoxication and a coma. Those who experience this often say it feels like a sense of powerlessness, especially when their ability to speak is affected.

Recognising an Addiction

Recognising an addiction in a loved one can be very difficult, especially as many signs of an addiction are similar to those of a mental health problem. It’s important not to outright accuse them of having a ketamine addiction just because they exhibit some of the following signs as you may be wrong or end up pushing them away. 

The signs and symptoms can vary for each individual, however, the following signs and symptoms are commonly seen in those struggling with an addiction and may be able to help you identify whether your friend or loved one has a problem.

Psychological Symptoms of a Ketamine Addiction

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exacerbation of existing mental health problems
  • Inability to concentrate, often resulting in problems at work and relationships at home
  • Confusion
  • Fear and paranoia
  • Loss of memory
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Feelings of being able to float or fly
  • Trance like state
  • Consuming ketamine in an attempt to relieve stress, a common trigger of those with ketamine addictions

Social and Behavioural Symptoms of a Ketamine Addiction

  • Frequent use of ketamine in day-to-day life
  • Feelings of being unable to stop taking ketamine
  • Getting the next fix of ketamine taxes priority over everything else e.g. responsibilities, work, family, friends, hobbies etc.
  • Failing to stop taking ketamine despite serious negative consequences
  • Behaviour becomes erratic or noticeably different
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Feelings of guilt

Physical Symptoms of a Ketamine Addiction

  • Tolerance to ketamine, meaning they have to take higher doses
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paralysis and loss of motor control
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to feel pain

Withdrawal Symptoms of Ketamine

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Bladder pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Intense ketamine cravings
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired vision

Understanding Their Addiction

Before approaching the topic with them, it’s important for you to try to understand what they may be experiencing. To you, your relative may seem lazy or unwilling to stop their negative behaviour, however, drug addictions are much more complex than that. 

Many people use substances or certain types of behaviour to avoid confronting a problem that they may be facing. This can include mental health problems, stress or trauma. If your loved one is using ketamine to cope with their issues, this indicates that they are really struggling with them, so taking a sympathetic approach is always the best way to go. 

Once an individual has developed an addiction, stopping may seem impossible to them. Not only can stopping take a toll on them mentally, but physical withdrawal symptoms from ketamine can be very hard to endure. 

Sometimes, individuals can feel embarrassed about their addiction and avoid seeking help from family, friends or rehabilitation centres. That’s why it’s essential to show them that you understand what they are experiencing and that you’re there to support them no matter what.

Understand and Manage Your Own Feelings

It is natural to feel upset or angry at your loved one for their addiction, especially if it has impacted you personally. If you feel any bitterness towards your relative as a result of betrayal or an argument caused by their addiction, allow yourself some time to cool down first before approaching them as arguing will only push them away further. 

Setting your own limit on how involved you wish to become in helping them with their addiction is an important step to protecting yourself from being hurt or betrayed again.

How To Approach Your Family Member

Approaching your relative with the right kind of attitude can dictate how the conversation goes. Here are some Dos and Don’ts on how to have a discussion:


  • Speak when you’re both sober.
  • Arrange the conversation in a private, familiar location in case you or your loved one become emotional.
  • Allow plenty of time for the conversation.
  • Discuss how their addiction is impacting those who they care most about. Whilst they may be less concerned about their own situation, they may care more deeply about their loved ones and the distress their addiction is causing them.


  • Be judgemental or critical. This sets the wrong tone for the conversation and your loved one will likely become defensive or leave the conversation entirely.
  • Interrupt them. Give your loved one time to explain how they feel and show them that you’re listening and understanding what they are saying, even if you disagree.
  • Give up. These conversations can be tough and it may seem like you’re not getting anywhere, however, the patience and understanding of a family member or friend is one of the leading reasons why those who are now in recovery sought professional help in the first place.

Getting Them the Right Kind of Help

At Acquiesce, we provide a discreet, highly supported and safe environment within the community for your loved one to recover in. Without being hidden from the real world, our urban recovery model allows individuals to gain all the tools and experience necessary whilst maintaining a carefully monitored level of autonomy and responsibility over their own recovery. This makes the transitional period from treatment a much smoother process, resulting in a more sustainable recovery journey.

Book a free consultation with Acquiesce today to discuss the options available for your loved one with one of our recovery practitioners.

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