Last updated: January 30, 2023
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, a class of psychedelic drug, that physicians prescribe to treat severe depression when nothing else works. It was created in the 1960s and used as an anesthetic on the battlefields in the Viet Nam war. It’s still used for that purpose today—in some circumstances. It’s more widely used by veterinarians for sedating dogs and cats who need to be restrained as well as for anesthesia.
The drug is known as Special K, Kit-Kat, or just K on the street. It appeals to recreational drug users because it produces a “floaty” feeling and it kicks in fast! When someone shoots up, they can be headed for Cloud 9 in less than 60 seconds. Snorting the drug gets the user high in five to ten minutes and ingesting it about twice as long. The high lasts for anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
But, how long does it stay in your system afterward and does it show up on a drug test?
Drug testing methods
Standard drug tests don’t identify Ketamine but if an employer suspects abuse, all they have to do is notify their drug testing company. The panel can be added to all forms of employee drug tests with the exception of the saliva drug test.
Urine drug test
The urine drug test is the most widely used employee drug test by far. However, because of the need for privacy, it raises concern that drug users will try and falsify the results. It’s getting harder for them to be successful though due to the trained eye of lab technicians and continuing advances in drug testing technology.
Urine tests detect Ketamine in the system for up to 14 days after someone has used the drug. Some research indicates that it can appear for up to 30 days in cases of heavy use.
Hair drug test
The hair follicle drug test is growing in popularity because it detects drug use for ninety days. Employers who want to identify those who use drugs regularly are choosing this test. In fact, even though the test hasn’t been approved for use by the Department of Transportation (DOT), a growing number of trucking companies are using the hair follicle test in addition to the mandated urine drug test.
Blood drug test
This drug test is usually reseved for post-accident drug testing scenarios. That’s partly due to the fact that it’s extremely expensive. In addition, it’s considered extremely invasive and must be administered in an actual medical facility by a medical professional.
Ketamine can only be detected in the blood stream for up to 24 hours after last using the drug.
Why is there a fluctuation in the length of time it’s detected?
Ketamine remains in the system of some people longer than others for a variety of reasons.
- Dosage and frequency of use
- Individual metabolism
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Overall health
In addition to the “floaty” effect mentioned above, common side effects one may experience when taking Ketamine include:
- Dreamy feelings
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Jerky muscle movements
- Loss of appeite
- Changes in blood pressure and heart rate
The ultimate experience
Moreover, recreational users who take higher doses of the drug are at rist of experiencing dissociative or hallucinogenic effects. It’s called a K-hole and is described as an out-of-body experience. Users speak of being teleported to other places or “melting” into their surroundings.
Some users consider the K-hole experience to be the ultimate high. Others liken it to a near-death experience. Mixing the drug with alcohol or other substances can make it more likely the user will have an out-of-body experience.
Furthermore, K-holes can trigger the following psychological effects:
- Feelings of detachment
- Anxiety or panic
- Changes in sensory perception (sight, sound, and time)
Serious side effects
Ketamine can cause life threatening side effects when taken at high doses. If the following occur, seek emergency medical attention immediately:
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Trouble urinating or frequent urination
- Pale or bluish lips, fingernails, or skin
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Problems swallowing
- Hives or rash
- Irregular heartbeat
- Puffy or swollen eyelids, face, lips, or tongue
- Feeling too excited, nervous, or restless
- Unusually tired or weak
Ketamine is addictive and users become tolerant to the drug meaning that higher doses must be taken to achieve the desired effect. This, of course, puts users at an ever increasing risk of overdosing on the drug.
Unfortunately, there isn’t very much information out there regarding treatment for someone who has become addicted to or regularly abuses Ketamine. However, we do know that prolonged use triggers withdrawal syndrome which includes psychotic features.
Seek professional medical help when discontinuing use of this drug.
Why we drug test
It’s a proven fact that companies that participate in a drug-free program see a decrease in the number of workplace accidents. Absenteeism goes down and productivity goes up. Moreover, employees who use drugs go to the doctor more frequently than those who don’t.
Employers who want to provide the safest working environment possible for their employees drug test. It’s a great deterrent because odds are if someone uses drugs and knows they have to pass a test, they won’t even bother to apply.
On the flip side, though, if you have an employee that tests positive for drugs, be compassionate when handling the situation. It’s got to be a huge awakening when you lose your job because you can’t refrain from using drugs. It may be the first realization for someone that they have a serious problem on their hands.
Even though the odds are that company policy dictates that the employee is going to lose their job, let them know that you’re pulling for them. Provide a list of drug treatment facilities in the area and encourage them to seek help.
You might be saving their life.