Dangers of Ketamine Tolerance

Allan I. Fleming

Hallucinogens are known for their ability to induce “out-of-body” states of mind. These types of drugs have become quite popular within the party circuit. According to the University of Maryland, ketamine, one of a handful of dissociative-type hallucinogens, alters a person’s perception of time and space while inciting hallucinatory experiences.

In general, hallucinogen drugs don’t carry a high risk of dependency or addiction unless used on a regular basis. Likewise, ketamine tolerance only becomes an issue when a person engages in frequent drug use.

When ketamine tolerance does become an issue, users enter into a cycle of drug abuse that ultimately leads to addiction. In the process, the types of “highs” experienced along the way can be disturbing, some of which may resurface at any given time. Ultimately, the risks that come with ketamine tolerance endanger a person’s physical and psychological well being, as well as his or her overall safety.

Ketamine Tolerance

Ketamine most resembles PCP, another dissociative-type hallucinogen, in its effects. Users experience altered states of consciousness that leave them completely unaware of their surroundings. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ketamine alters the way the brain’s cognitive and emotion-based processes operate, which , in turn, distorts a person’s sensory perceptions.

When ingested, ketamine triggers the release of serotonin and glutamate neurotransmitter chemicals, both of which help in regulating the brain’s cognitive functions. Ketamine tolerance develops in response to the drug’s damaging effects on the brain cells that secrete these chemicals. Over time, cell structures start to break down making them less sensitive to ketamine’s effects.

As this takes place, a person must keep ingesting larger doses in order to experience the desired “high” effects from the drug. Meanwhile, the brain gradually adjusts to ketamine’s effects by reducing the amount of neurotransmitters normally secreted by brain cells.

Ketamine Withdrawal

As with any form of drug abuse, withdrawal effects become the driving force that sustains ketamine abuse. As ketamine tolerance levels continue to rise, growing chemical imbalances impair the brain’s ability to maintain normal bodily functions.

In the process, the brain develops a physical dependency on the drug’s effects and so requires ketamine in order to maintain any semblance of normal functioning. As physical dependency grows, users start to experience withdrawal effects when needed amounts of the drug are lacking.

Withdrawal effects commonly experienced as ketamine tolerance levels rise to include:

Extreme anxiety

Severe depression


Psychotic-like behavior displays

Potential Dangers

Elevated Pain Threshold

Ketamine is actually a legal drug that’s commonly used as an anesthetic for humans and animals. The drug’s ability to increase glutamate chemical levels has a slowing effect on the brain’s electrical activity. In high enough doses, ketamine actually shuts down certain areas of the brain altogether.

When used for recreational purposes, this anesthetizing effect poses a considerable danger in terms of diminishing a person’s ability to feel pain sensations. Under these conditions, users can endure incredible degrees of pain without even knowing it, placing them at considerable risk of accident and serious injury.

As ketamine tolerance levels increase, a person is more likely to ingest amounts that induce this overall numbing effect.


In large enough doses, ketamine can bring on a state known as the “K-hole effect,” according to New York University-Steinhardt. Dosage amounts of 60 to 125 million when injecting and 100 to 250 milligrams can immobilize a person as well as block off any physical sensations he or she may be experiencing.

These effects can develop within 10 to 20 minutes, leaving users completely vulnerable. For these reasons, ketamine exists as one of a handful of date-rape drugs. People who develop ketamine tolerance over a period of months can easily ingest these dosage amounts as tolerance levels continue to rise with ongoing drug use.

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