Ketamine, which is commonly known as a party drug, has been the centre of plenty of research over the years looking into the therapeutic benefits of the substance.

Despite being used in certain medical settings for pain relief and sedation, ketamine use also comes with potential risks and consequences.

Here, we look into exactly what ketamine is and explain the effects it has on the brain and body.


What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a drug that is used as a general anaesthetic in surgeries and medical procedures. Developed in the 1960s, it is used in both human and animal medicine. It’s known as a dissociative anaesthetic which means it works by sending individuals into a trance-like state, leading to sedation, pain relief and amnesia.

Current studies are also being carried out to determine whether ketamine could be used to treat certain mental health conditions including depression. Ketamine’s ability to detach individuals from the current situation and their surroundings has meant the drug is now used recreationally.

In the UK, ketamine is a Class B drug which means it is illegal for individuals to possess, supply or produce the substance without a prescription. Despite this, global figures show that ketamine use in social settings has been rising, and it is now a common drug in the club and party scene.

As with any substance, ketamine has a number of risks associated with its use – especially when individuals are using it without a prescription or for hallucinogenic effects. Chronic and excessive use of ketamine has even been linked to urinary tract issues, mental health concerns and cognitive impairment.


What Does Ketamine Do To Your Brain?

When someone uses ketamine, the substance enters the bloodstream and works by blocking the NMDA receptors in the brain. This is why individuals often experience altered perceptions and sensations. As a dissociative substance, individuals commonly feel detached from reality.

Studies also show that ketamine interacts with glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. This is responsible for learning and memory, which is why those under the influence of ketamine typically don’t remember what happened or if they felt any pain.

Unfortunately, some people wrongly believe that ketamine is a safe drug and has no side effects. While it is true that the substance can be used safely, in medical settings, using it outside of these environments poses a huge risk.

Therefore debunking these myths and making the impact of ketamine on the brain and body more widely known is crucial for individuals to be knowledgeable about the effects of this substance.


What Are The Acute Effects of Ketamine?

Similar to other substances, ketamine can affect people differently. What’s more, individuals can have a different reaction to ketamine depending on the amount taken and other personal factors. One of the most common side effects of ketamine use is hallucinations and altered perceptions. Individuals typically experience a distorted sense of time and space.

Ketamine can also lead to numbness in limbs, impaired motor function and a lack of coordination which can result in individuals experiencing a trance state. The risk of injury or accident is very high when individuals try to move during these situations. Physically, ketamine can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, both of which can be dangerous and nausea and vomiting often occur too.

Some individuals who take ketamine also say they experience feelings of euphoria and relaxation, which is just one reason why the substance is a popular recreational drug.


Ketamine Effects On The Body

As well as the above effects, ketamine affects the body in many other ways. One of the most common effects on the body is bladder issues. Research shows that chronic and prolonged ketamine use can lead to bladder inflammation and ulceration, both of which can mean individuals find urinating very painful.

Ketamine in high doses can also result in respiratory disorders and diseases, which again can be painful and may require immediate medical attention. Again, just like other substances, ketamine use over a long period of time comes with the risk that someone may develop a tolerance or dependence which is where they require higher doses of the substance to achieve the same effects.

Dependency and tolerance are key indications that a ketamine addiction has developed.


Long Term Effects Of Ketamine On The Brain And Body

There is also the risk of long-term physical and mental health effects with regard to ketamine use. Studies show that chronic, excessive and prolonged ketamine use can lead to cognitive impairment which is why some individuals suffer from memory issues and struggle to pay attention for long periods of time.

Those addicted to ketamine, or those who have used the substance excessively, are also more likely to suffer from mental health conditions including anxiety. Those individuals who have previously suffered from mental health conditions may be at a greater risk of worsening psychological conditions after ketamine use.

Finally, long-term ketamine use can have a serious impact on someone’s physical health and has been shown to affect the liver, kidneys, bladder and cardiovascular system. This is why it’s so important to get help fast if you are worried about your own ketamine use or a loved one.


Seeking Help For Ketamine Abuse Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with ketamine addiction or you want to know more about ketamine effects, getting in touch with an expert team is essential. What’s more, the team at Addiction Advocates has the necessary skills and tools to provide you with support, guidance and treatment to help you overcome ketamine abuse. Call us today on 0800 012 6088 or fill out our contact form.

By understanding exactly what ketamine does to your brain and body, you can make better-informed decisions about your ketamine use.

So, whether you’re a user or a concerned loved one, being aware of ketamine, what it is and how powerful it can be, means you’re one step closer to making healthier choices – whether they’re for you or someone else. Don’t hesitate to reach out either. Our team is here to help you on your path to recovery with ketamine addiction treatment – whatever that looks like for you.


  • [1] what ketamine is -
  • [2] ketamine could be used to treat certain mental health conditions including depression -
  • [3] excessive use of ketamine has even been linked to urinary tract issues, mental health concerns and cognitive impairment -
  • [4] ketamine interacts with glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain -