Ketamine is a drug that has pain-killing, hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Though originally used in a medical context for numbing pain in humans and animals, ketamine was adopted in the UK as a recreational and club drug in the ‘90s and ‘00s.
It has since become more popular, especially among young people, who are attracted by its relatively low street price (at £30 a gram, it is significantly cheaper than drugs like cocaine, which can retail at £80 a gram). 
When used over a long period of time, ketamine can lead to a range of health problems, the most serious relating to the bladder and kidney.  It can also cause a raised heart rate and blood pressure, diminished appetite, hallucinations, and memory loss.
If you have a ketamine problem, and you are considering seeking help, we can offer advice. Read on for more information about the different forms of treatment that are available to ketamine users.
Do I need ketamine rehab?
As with any addiction, ketamine addiction can take over a person’s life. Someone who is addicted to ketamine may have financial, work-related and relationship problems, due to spending too much time and money on ketamine.
If you are a ketamine user, and you are beginning to wonder if it might be time to go to rehab, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have to take more ketamine now to achieve the same high as before? (Have I built up a tolerance?)
- Have I tried and failed to quit ketamine?
- Do I have cravings for ketamine?
- Do I ignore other parts of my life – work, hobbies, relationships – in order to use ketamine?
- Do I continue to use ketamine even though it is causing problems in my life?
- Am I often thinking about procuring and taking ketamine?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should think about going to rehab. Rehab is the best environment to get sober and to receive cutting-edge therapy that will help you to stay sober. Addiction is a disease that often gets worse if it is left untreated; act now, and you will save yourself a lot of pain in the future.
Treatment options for ketamine addiction
The main forms of treatment which are available for ketamine addiction in the UK include a stay in private rehab or free outpatient treatment services offered by the NHS. There are also support groups and 12-step organisations such as Narcotics Anonymous.
Inpatient rehabs in the UK are almost all private. These rehabs offer high-quality services, but they do charge a premium.
There are a number of good inpatient rehabs that will take on people who are addicted to ketamine. Since ketamine has been a popular drug in the UK for some decades now, rehab staff understand the nature of the addiction and have lots of experience helping people through ketamine recovery.
When searching for a ketamine rehab, you should make sure to look for facilities that offer bespoke, personalised recovery plans, as well as a range of therapies, highly qualified, experienced staff, and good accommodation and amenities. It is worth investing some time and effort into finding the right place for you.
What is the cost of ketamine rehab?
For a 28-day stay in an inpatient ketamine rehab, you should expect to pay around £10,950. This includes a full detox, a course of therapy, rehab, and aftercare. Prices may vary depending on the rehab.
Read more about the cost of alcohol and drug treatment here.
Advantages of private inpatient rehab
Some of the advantages of getting private ketamine treatment include:
- 24/7 expert supervision and care during integrated detox
- Additional forms of therapy such as music and art therapy, as well as fitness and meditation classes
- Quick access to treatment professionals
- Family support programme
- Free one-year aftercare programme
- Immediate admission
- On-site amenities that make rehab welcoming
- Complete privacy and confidentiality
Disadvantages of private inpatient rehab
The disadvantages of private inpatient rehab are:
- More expensive than outpatient rehab
- Can be difficult to take time off work for a month-long stay in inpatient rehab
Treatment options offered by the NHS
The best starting point if you are thinking of going down the NHS route is to get in touch with your GP. They can refer you to outpatient services.
There are also charities that can do the same, including Addiction, Turning Point, Aquarius and Compass. These charities have centres all over the country.
Sometimes it is possible to get treatment without a referral, although this generally does not include therapy.
Receiving a referral
One of the challenges of going through the NHS is the process of getting a referral, which can be lengthy, especially when the NHS is stretched due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, in order to access therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy, you will generally need a referral, so you may just have to wait it out and hope that your referral comes through as quickly as possible.
The NHS typically offers outpatient-based services, although in some cases you may be able to get a referral for an inpatient detox. That being said, referrals are not easy to come by, and you may be put on a waiting list for some time before your referral comes through.
What medications can my GP prescribe to ease withdrawal?
If you go down the NHS route, your GP can prescribe medications to help you overcome some of the symptoms of withdrawal. Luckily, ketamine is primarily psychologically addictive, rather than physically addictive, so the withdrawal symptoms you encounter after quitting ketamine will not be mainly psychological in nature (e.g. anxiety, depression), rather than physical (sweats, vomiting).
You may still experience some physical withdrawal symptoms, but the chances are they will not be as severe as those experienced by someone going through e.g. heroin withdrawal.
Regardless, ketamine withdrawal can be difficult, and your doctor can help you out by prescribing medications such as antipsychotics, anxiolytics and antidepressants. These medications should help to keep the mental symptoms of withdrawal under control.
Advantages of taking the NHS route
There are some advantages to getting treatment via the NHS, such as:
- You can access ketamine treatment in your local area, without having to travel. This makes it easier to juggle treatment with other commitments.
- There is no charge for NHS services.
Disadvantages of taking the NHS route
Although NHS services come completely free of charge, there are some disadvantages to going down this route. We list the main ones below:
- Due to the fact that most NHS services are provided in an outpatient setting, you will not get the same round-the-clock care that you receive in private inpatient rehab.
- Since you will also likely receive these outpatient services in a centre near where you live, you will still have to deal with the same triggers and stressors that come with being in your home environment, whereas in inpatient rehab, you have a totally temptation-free environment.
- Delays in referrals are common, meaning that your addiction may progress in the time you spend waiting for your referral to come through.
- If you want to get therapy through the NHS, you will have to jump through several hoops, and it may take additional time.
Support groups and fellowship groups for ketamine addiction
Another option for ketamine treatment is to join a support group or fellowship group. Groups such as these are typically comprised of people who have struggled with addiction who come together to give each other advice and support about how to navigate recovery.
One example of a twelve-step based support group is Alcoholics Anonymous, which have a branch called Narcotics Anonymous which would be the group to join if you struggle with ketamine addiction.
Narcotics Anonymous accepts any drug addict who has made a commitment to stop using drugs. It employs the 12 steps, which are a series of steps that drug users go through during their recovery. It is a spiritual organisation, which is open to members of all creeds, including atheists and agnostics.
At Narcotics Anonymous meetings, drug users can find help and support, as well as practical tips from others who have been through the same experiences. NA does not cost anything.
What purpose do groups like Narcotics Anonymous serve?
Recovery is not just the job of a few months, or even a year: it takes up a whole lifetime. That may sound bleak, but it’s the reality – there will always be chances to relapse, and you will have to deal with that for life.
What groups like Narcotics Anonymous do is provide a valuable element of structure and fellowship to help you stay strong in your journey of recovery. NA members have all gone through drug addiction, with all the struggles, broken relationships, financial troubles and mental health problems that entail.
They are uniquely qualified to tell you about what works, and what doesn’t work, in beating an addiction.
The advantages of support groups for ketamine addiction
- Support groups are attended by people who have been through the same things as you. They can offer practical, useful advice on subjects such as dealing with cravings.
- Addiction can cut you off from friends. Support groups give you a way to rebuild friendship circles with new people.
- Addiction can destroy your confidence in yourself. Support groups can help you to rebuild your self-esteem through interaction with other people.
The disadvantages of support groups for ketamine addiction
- Support groups are attended by normal people who have gone through addiction, not professionals. It is not an adequate substitute for therapy. However, it may be a good thing to pair with therapy.
Private therapy for ketamine addiction
Whereas a detox rids your body of toxins, therapy targets the mind. It aims to help drug users work out what made them use drugs in the first place, whether that be trauma, mental health problems, an addictive personality, a difficult family life, or any other reason.
Common forms of therapy include cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing. All of these forms of therapy can be used to treat ketamine addiction.
You can either attend one-to-one therapy sessions, in which you are alone with a therapist, or group therapy sessions, in which you receive therapy in the company of a group of other drug users. Or, in an ideal world, you can receive both individual and group therapy, since the two complement each other well.
If you choose to go to rehab, you will receive highly professional, evidence-based therapy in both an individual and group context. You will also be able to continue seeing a therapist after your stay in rehab has come to an end.
What happens during ketamine therapy?
As part of therapy, you will discuss the reasons why you may have become addicted to ketamine. You will analyse your thought patterns, especially in behavioural therapies such as CBT, and talk about how they lead to substance use. Then you will work with your therapist to devise strategies for preventing these thought patterns from leading to substance use.
Over the course of therapy, your therapist will monitor how you are getting on, and discuss any developments with you. In counselling, you will have the opportunity to discuss more practical points, such as your living situation, relationships and other external factors which are important to your general wellbeing and staying clean.
The advantages of private ketamine therapy
- With private ketamine therapy, the waiting times to start therapy are usually small. You will not need a referral.
- Private therapy is supported by a lot of evidence, and is a good way to treat all forms of addiction.
The disadvantages of private ketamine therapy
- Private ketamine therapy is generally expensive. It may not be a good option for someone with a limited budget.
- Therapy on its own is less effective; when paired with a detox, it becomes more effective.
What treatment should I get?
Among the different treatment options, we have discussed in this article are private ketamine rehab, NHS services, support groups and fellowship groups, and private therapy. All of these options have advantages and disadvantages, so the treatment that is right for you really depends on your personal circumstances.
Before you make a decision, we would recommend thinking seriously about factors such as:
- Your budget
- Length of time you can afford to be in treatment while managing other commitments
- The severity of your addiction
We hope that this article has been helpful to you, and we wish you all the best with your recovery.