Ketamine Withdrawal

A detailed guide about how to quit ketamine safely. Learn what to expect during withdrawal here.

minute read

ARTICLE SUMMARY: This article will help you get prepared for ketamine withdrawal and symptoms. We’ll help outline what happens in a medical detox so you can know what to expect. Then, your questions are welcomed at the end.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: Less than 10 minutes.



Ready to Quit Ketamine?

It would be unfairr to say that quitting ketamine is easy. Especially if you’ve been  using it for some time. But coming down from this drug is not impossible either. All you need to do is make the decision. Then, with a little help and intervention from medical professionals, you’ll be able to walk away from the drug for good.

This article will  help describe what you need to know about ketamine withdrawal including:

  • How long the withdrawal lasts.
  • Which symptoms should you expect?
  • The intensity and the dynamics of ketamine withdrawal period.
  • What to do to overcome the fear of withdrawal?

Then, we invite you to post all your comments in the section for questions at the end.

Ketamine Dependent or Ketamine Addicted?

There is a thin line between dependence and addiction. To help you understand the distinction of these two separate conditions, we have collected a list of symptoms of each. Symptoms of physical dependence on ketamine include:
  • Increasing ketamine doses to get the same effects.
  • Increased need for ketamine on a daily basis.
  • Increased need to take more and more ketamine to achieve the initial effect.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you skip a dose, or pause your use for a while.

NOTE: Physical dependence is usually a condition related to addiction. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately to prevent the development of addiction.

On the other hand, symptoms of ketamine addiction are related to both physical and mental symptoms. The signs of addiction include:

  • Being secretive about your ketamine use.
  • Being unable to do normal daily things, such as cooking or working because of ketamine.
  • Borrowing and/or stealing money to purchase ketamine.
  • Depression and melancholy when you stop taking ketamine.
  • Experiencing changes in physical appearance (bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, significant weight gain, or weight loss).
  • Feeling strange when ketamine effects wear off (shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach).
  • Having a hard time setting limits with your ketamine use.
  • Inability to stop using ketamine despite its negative consequences.
  • Keep taking ketamine after it’s no longer needed for your health problem.
  • Mixing ketamine with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Not using ketamine as prescribed (taking larger doses, using it more often, or using it in a form other than the prescribed one).
  • Preoccupation with acquiring, using, and reacquiring ketamine.
  • Strong desire, or cravings, to use.
  • Spending a lot of your time thinking about ketamine (how to get more, when you’ll take it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward).
  • Visiting more than one doctor to get prescriptions for ketamine.

Why Addiction?

You might be wondering at this point why addiction happens in first place. Truth to be told, there is no a single cause of addiction. The issue is up for debate. But experts think that the reason we come to know, love, and crave our drug-of-choice is a combination of the following:

1. Genetics.

Our genetic profile  (the composition of inherited strengths and weaknesses) can influence the way we respond to external, environmental changes. In the case of dependence and addiction, there are some individuals with a history of addiction in their family history. The link between genes and predisposition for addiction is still under scientific research, but so far, many studies have confirmed that our genetic profile greatly influence whether we will, or won’t develop addictive patterns to certain drugs and medications.

2. Behavior.

The nurture principle goes like this: If a person starts abusing his/her medication, consequences will follow. It’s as simple as that. No one is immune to the reaction of the way they behave, especially not when you misuse a medication intended for a certain purpose. Remember, ketamine is drug, which if not taken accordantly with the medical guide and your doctor’s recommend can provoke dependence.

3. Drug tolerance.

Psychoactive drugs work for some time, until the body becomes tolerant to their effects. The long term use of ketamine will cause your system to adapt and depend on this drug for regular functioning. Tolerance is simply that stage at which your body has accustomed receiving a certain amount of ketamine and requires more and more of this drug in order to preserve that state of balance. This is why it’s crucial to consult your doctor when you no longer feel the effects of ketamine from the prescribed dose. Getting to stage means that you will either have taper off (gradually lower your doses) or be prescribed to a drug with similar effects as ketamine.

Main Withdrawal Symptoms

Ketamine withdrawal will occur after you quit taking the drug and are physically dependent on it. Those who use it more often, in high amounts, with other substances, or via injection are likely to go through withdrawals that get worse each time.

Many of the effects of ketamine withdrawal are opposite the effects of ketamine intoxication. Ketamine users may go through multiple periods of dependence and withdrawal, repeating the cycles more frequently as the drug begins to truly wreak its havoc in their brain and central nervous system.

We’ve divided the most common ketamine withdrawal symptoms in 3 (three) categories:

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Coordination loss
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Inability to focus
  • Irregular heart rate or blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Speech impairments

Behavioral Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Aggressive or violent tendencies
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenic-like behaviors
  • Suicidal ideations

Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

Due to the seriousness of these symptoms, it’s best to undergo a medically guide detox, where your condition will be followed 24/7 and you’ll be prescribed with some medication if needed. This way, you’ll any serious complications during your ketamine comedown.

How Long It Lasts

The common range for ketamine withdrawal is 1-4 DAYS, but post-acute symptoms may still be present for 2 WEEKS. Below, we introduce the concept of stages of ketamine withdrawal symptoms.

STAGE 1: Beginning of Withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal symptoms begin within 24 hours of ketamine discontinuation. Withdrawals during this period feel the worse. People have reported experiencing strong craving for the drug accompanied by: shakes, fatigue, insomnia, tremors, nausea, and rapid breathing. In order to go through these symptoms easily, don’t fight them. Simply accept them as your body’s natural way of expressing rebellion against ketamine discontinuation.

STAGE 2: Withdrawal Peak.

The withdrawal peak usually happens after the second day. The psychological vulnerability at this point of withdrawal is the highest. Depression starts to hit in. Some people may even experience hallucinations, delusions and hearing loss. Medication management at this stage is very common, combined with psychological support to endure temptations and get through the end of the detox phase.

STAGE 3: Withdrawal End.

Most withdrawal symptoms completely stabilize after the first week. However, the nerve cell damage in the brain may be permanent and certain psychological issues may arise. Withdrawal symptoms may last up to two (2) weeks at the most before they completely disappear.


Ketamine withdrawal can be divided into three levels according to the severity and intensity of the symptoms. Medical detox can help decrease the severity and intensity of severe ketamine withdrawal symptoms. In order to be safe, it’s best to trust this procedure to hands of medical staff that can successfully address these symptoms immediately as they occur. Medical detoxification usually manifests in the following way:

Level 1: Minor Ketamine Withdrawal.

The minor symptoms of ketamine withdrawal are usually resolved after about two (2) weeks. This is how long it takes for the symptoms to completely subside, or if they are still present, to start fading away. Among the minor withdrawal symptoms during ketamine withdrawal we can include: sleep disturbances, rapid breathing, inability to focus, and minor anxiety.

Level 2: Mid-Level Ketamine Withdrawal

Mid-level symptoms are: confusion, coordination loss, speech impairments and depression. This usually happens to those who were not chronic ketamine users and did not have a previous history of drug abuse. These symptoms appear during the first 2-4 days of your detoxification. In fact, the entire period of peak ketamine withdrawal lasts for about four (4) days.

Level 3: Severe Ketamine Withdrawal

In some cases where people have heavily abused ketamine, withdrawal can be accompanied by some serious withdrawal symptoms such as: paranoia, delirium, irregular heart rate or blood pressure, aggressive or violent tendencies, psychosis, Schizophrenic-like behaviors and suicidal ideations. These cases require 24/7 hospital care and administration of medications to avoid serious consequences.

Severe, Or Not?

If we can describe withdrawal with one word, that word would be: uncertainty. The course of withdrawal is not predictable due to many factors. Mainly, because we are all different. Our bodies respond differently to every experience, including ketamine cessation. While there are some standard symptoms, the intensity and duration of ketamine withdrawals are greatly determined by:
  • How long you’ve been using ketamine.
  • How much ketamine you’ve been taking on a daily basis.
  • Whether you abused multiple drugs together with ketamine.
  • Your general/overall physical health, age, gender.
  • Your unique body response and metabolism of ketamine.
  • Presence of co-existing physical or psychological disorders.

Instead of risking injury to yourself or others, seek professional help!

Can You Go Cold Turkey Off Ketamine?

You can, but it is not recommended, due to the severe withdrawal symptoms that may arise. Moreover, the majority of those who went cold turkey off ketamine, relapsed very quickly. Coming down off ketamine abruptly is not recommended for the following reasons:
  1. Physical complications. Long term ketamine use has serious effects on the body. Those considering a medically guided detox, with a prior tapering schedule will benefit from undergoing a thorough physical evaluation and receiving appropriate medical care.
  2. Mental health complications. Mental health symptoms, including anxiety and depression, may intensify after abrupt ketamine discontinuation.
  3. Cravings. Withdrawal usually leads to strong cravings, which can increase the risk of relapse.

If you are going quit ketamine, be safe.
Call us to explore all treatment options.
We are 24/7 available to answer any questions you might have.

Safety During Ketamine Withdrawal

Q: What’s the safest way to come off ketamine?

A: 24/7 medical supervision at a detox clinic or hospital stay.

You can benefit from meeting with a doctor or undergoing a medically supervised detox to ensure that ketamine withdrawal symptoms are closely monitored.  The process of physical elimination of ketamine, is almost always accompanied by a feeling called “ketamine crash”. Besides this the psychological ketamine comedown also includes: anxiety and depression, due to low serotonin and dopamine levels.

It is during these times professional help is vital. 

The process of detoxification aims to completely eliminate all the traces of ketamine from your system. Medications can be administered to address withdrawal symptoms as they occur…or to help decrease drug cravings. The point is this:

Medical Experts

Professional help is crucial if you want to successfully quit ketamine and avoid serious health complications. This is a list of experts that participate in the process of ketamine withdrawal and offer medical and psychological support to ensure safety during your detoxification period.

Common Fears

Change can sometimes be frightening. This is because change redefines our entire lives. Drug withdrawal includes a major change, this is what makes it so scary to face. But symptoms just one part on the road to sobriety. If you chose to get clean, then you’re going to have to face your fear sooner or later.

The thing about withdrawal symptoms are that they are a lot like any other pain of discomfort. Going to the dentist also hurts, but the pain actually comes from your mind. When you are at that crossroad between choosing a new life and want to quit ketamin for good … these four (4) tips might come handy to overcome your fear of the withdrawal process.

1. Discover what your fear really is.

Many factors contribute to the fear of detoxification. Getting to the core of your fear is the first step to conquering it. Identifying your fear will help you address it. These are some of the most common fears people have before quitting ketamine:

  • Discomfort through withdrawal symptoms. Failure.
  • Feeling miserable when sober.
  • Losing a part of your previous identity.
  • Losing the old life.
  • Saying goodbye to old friends.

2. Withdrawal is not that scary.

After you pass successfully through some of the withdrawal symptoms, you’ll see that they aren’t much different from having the flu. Ketamine withdrawal symptoms are manageable, and they only last a few days.

3. You can only succeed if you try.

If the fear of relapse is bugging you, know that therapists now view it as part of the process. Failure is part of every person’s life. The attempt to try will bring the possibility of succeeding and reaching sobriety.

4. Only a drug-free life will make you truly happy.

There are many people who fear they won’t know how to start over after finishing detox. This is primarily because going through detox means closing an old chapter. But cleaning your body from ketamine won’t destroy your life, on the contrary it will give it back to you. Being drug-free will give you the opportunity to find out who you really are, discover new interests, build healthy relationships and a totally different lifestyle.

Why Professional Help?

One of the most important benefits of undergoing a medically guided ketamine withdrawal is the clean, and drug free environment that detox centers provide. When the access to ketamine is denied, your brain knows that the drug is no longer available. So by further eliminating the possibility to purchase ketamine, you are protected from relapsing back into old habits again.

The safety of medical protocol is another reason to choose medical detox against at-home ketamine detox. You’ll not only increase your chances of successfully completing detoxification, you’ll be in safe hands. Hospitalization will place you in the care of medical professionals. The doctors, nurses, and staff who work in detox clincis will follow your condition and make sure your detoxification goes according to plan.

Once your body has stabilized, you can proceed to the next stages of treatment. In fact, medical staff at the clinic can direct you to further treatment, if needed. Treatment AFTER detox involves working on the psychological issues behind drug use. Changing behavior takes time…and energy!

Your Questions

We hope to have outlined the main effects of quitting ketamine and how to do it safely. But some of you may be still wondering what to expect during ketamine withdrawal.

Please ask!

If you or a loved one have any other questions about ketamine detoxification, leave them in the comment section below. We’ll respond personally in a timely manner, and try to help you learn everything you need to know.

Refference sources: NCBI: Ketamine dependence
ACMD: Ketamine: a review of use and harm
Drug Bank: Ketamine
CESAR: Ketamine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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