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Ketamine Withdrawal: How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

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Ketamine (street names include Cat Valium, K, Special K) is a dissociative drug. Dissociatives are a type of hallucinogen that make you feel a detachment from reality. At a low dose you may feel relaxed and like you’re in a dreamlike state, but at high doses, you may experience a feeling of being apart from your body and have hallucinations.

Used in medical settings as an anesthetic for both humans and animals, ketamine can be prescribed as an injection or nasal spray. Those who abuse ketamine usually inject, snort, or swallow it, or smoke the powder added to cigarettes.

Ketamine overdose can cause dangerously slowed breathing and unconsciousness. This makes high doses potentially life-threatening. If you suffer from a ketamine addiction, you’re probably wondering how long ketamine stays in your system and what it would feel like to withdraw from ketamine.

how long does ketamine stay in your system

How Long Does Ketamine Stays in Your System?

The half-life of ketamine (the time it takes for the body to get rid of 50% of the drug) can range from 45 minutes to 4 hours. Ketamine usually clears from the body within one to three days.

But the exact time it takes your system to eliminate ketamine depends on a variety of factors, like:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Body mass
  • Metabolism
  • Drug dosage

The liver is the main organ that processes and eliminates ketamine from your body. Your liver breaks ketamine down into a metabolite called norketamine. Then norketamine is broken down into dehydronorketamine. These metabolites are mainly eliminated through urine.

Ketamine Drug Test

While ketamine is cleared from your system fairly quickly (within 1-3 days), it can still be detected in special drug tests for a longer period.

How long ketamine can be detected:

  • Urine tests: Up to 14 days after last dose
  • Hair tests: Months after the last dose
  • Blood tests: Around 24 hours after the last dose

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

After prolonged misuse of ketamine, users develop a tolerance. When you develop a tolerance for ketamine, it means that you need more of the drug to get the same effects. After continued use of ketamine, you can develop a strong psychological dependence on ketamine.

A ketamine high is short and can end abruptly. Thus, ketamine users often take the drug in a binge pattern to maintain the high over a long time. This can lead to building tolerance quickly.

When stopping ketamine use, ketamine withdrawal symptoms begin—typically around 24 hours after your last dose.

Symptoms of ketamine withdrawal can include:

  • Cravings for ketamine
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoria
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Low appetite
  • Chills
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Self-Assessment: Am I Addicted?

Ketamine Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect During Ketamine Detox

The first signs of ketamine withdrawal begin around 24 hours after your last dose of ketamine and last for about 3 days. Your cravings will likely feel the worst in the first two to four days after stopping use of ketamine. Withdrawal symptoms may continue and last for two weeks, decreasing in severity over time.

Is Medical Supervision Necessary for Ketamine Detox?

Frequent ketamine users report trying but often failing to stop using ketamine, so medical supervised detox is recommended.

If you do not have a stable environment in which to detox, you can be at risk for relapse or harm if withdrawal becomes overwhelming. Detoxing with the support of medical professionals helps ensure you stay safe and as comfortable as possible for as long as withdrawal takes you. Additionally, a majority of individuals who abuse ketamine also use other drugs, which can indicate a need to detox from other substances as well. In fact, in 2011, 72% of ketamine- related emergencies also involved alcohol.

When stopping ketamine use, you may experience discomfort and cravings. As withdrawal symptoms may persist for approximately two weeks, it is recommended to do detox under medical supervision. Since your body likely has a physical and psychological dependence on ketamine, a medical professional will help you manage your withdrawal symptoms. Licensed and experienced professionals are there to help you learn skills in a supportive and structured environment.

During ketamine detox, one of the biggest risks includes depression, which could lead to suicidal thoughts. During medical detox, you have access to robust support through skills-training and therapy. Drug addiction is challenging, and it’s easy to feel alone. During medically supervised detox, you will be surrounded by caring individuals devoted to your well-being, as well as others going through what you’re going through. You don’t have to do it alone.

What to Expect During Medically Supervised Ketamine Detox

Detox is the first step on your path to recovery. Medical detox provides a highly structured care plan, including 24/7 monitoring. It is a way to safely and effectively begin treatment for drug addiction. You will have high-quality support as you go through ketamine withdrawal.

Your medically supported detox will be catered to your unique treatment needs. That is why medical detox begins with a comprehensive assessment. You will meet with a medical doctor and discuss your medical and psychiatric history. Then licensed professionals will assist you with an individualized plan.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Transportation aid
  • Skills to manage cravings
  • Aftercare referrals

Treatment does not end with medical detox. After reaching stability, you will need aftercare support for your psychological well-being. This is crucial to addiction recovery.

Our staff will work with you to create a specialized treatment approach to support your full recovery from ketamine addiction.

Treatment after detox includes:

  • Relapse prevention
  • Therapy
  • Medical support
  • Mental health support
  • Life-skills training

While it can feel scary to begin the detox process, the prognosis for recovery from ketamine abuse is very good. And you don’t have to do it alone. Allow us to help you take your first step on your journey to recovery.

While it can feel scary to begin the detox process, the prognosis for recovery from ketamine abuse is very good. And you don’t have to do it alone. Allow us to help you take your first step on your journey to recovery.

Contact Footprints to Recovery today and get closer to the life you deserve.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

Jenna Richer
Medically Reviewed by Jenna Richer, MSW, LCSW
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