In the medical world, ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic for pain management. Due to its potent effect on a person’s physical and psychological health, in recent years, it has become a popular “party drug” among many people who want to get a “high” quickly.
Consistent use of ketamine can lead to developing а physical and psychological dependence and various health complications.“ Ketamine bladder” is one of these conditions, a symptom of prolonged ketamine use or addiction. It means that your bladder’s cell lining has thinned and can include other adverse symptoms.
What Is Ketamine and How Does It Affect the Body
Ketamine, also known as ketamine hydrochloride, is a quick-acting, a powerful anaesthetic that distorts your senses, creates a feeling of tranquillity and detachment from the self and the surrounding environment and often leads to hallucinations. Ketamine has been used as an off-label medication for patients with acute and chronic pain and, in limited instances, for managing alcohol withdrawal. However, many users take ketamine as a “club drug” due to the massive surge of serotonin, dopamine, and other feel-good chemicals.
Many begin ketamine usage as an innocent attempt to have fun due to the stimulating effect and the hallucinations they can experience. The drug has a short-lasting impact, so very often, people will take multiple doses during a binge to avoid getting a crash and keep the “high”.
Due to its potent effect on a person’s nervous system, ketamine can make you feel calm, relaxed, and detached from reality. Consequently, many people start abusing ketamine to cope with stress and other conditions. No matter how you start, ketamine’s powerful influence on your brain chemistry and its strong pain-numbing effect are highly addictive. This is why abusing this medication is the number one cause of dependence. Following one’s prescribed intake, including doses and frequency, is a sure way to keep on top of your use. Chronic use of ketamine leads to the development of psychological and physical tolerance, where you start to take higher doses to reach the same original “high”. When dependent, you will be avoiding missed doses due to withdrawal symptoms.
The UK has the highest rates of ketamine abuse, according to data from a MixMag study on global drug use. The story of “Matt from Bristol” exemplifies the dangers of ketamine abuse. He tried the drug at parties and in clubs with friends. Before long, Matt had gotten addicted, “getting stomach cramps and peeing blood,” among other health complications. Both of these can be symptoms of ketamine bladder, but not only.
Apart from the bladder, frequent abuse of ketamine can cause major strain and damage to various other organs, including the liver, kidneys, digestive and urinary tract, brain and heart.
- Effects on your physical health
- Effects on your mental health
- Impairments in motor function and disorientation
- Shivering and tremors
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations and heart rate irregularities
- Dry mouth or excessive saliva production
- Blurred or double vision
- Dissociation and detachment from reality
- Sedation and reduced sensitivity to physical pain
- Hallucinations and a dream-like state
- Brain fog, confusion and difficulty thinking
- Decreased focus, alertness and awareness of your environment
- Forgetfulness, issues with short-term memory and amnesia
- Drowsiness and disorientation
- Restless and agitation
- Mood swings
Going back to the main question you came here to read on, frequent abuse of ketamine can lead to strain, damage, and even irreversible tears in many organs, including ones in the urinary tract. Prolonged and extensive use of ketamine has been shown to lead to damage to the bladder in a condition called “Ketamine Bladder Syndrome”, or ketamine cystitis. To understand this condition, we need to know our anatomy first. So, what is the human bladder like? It is a round sac, roughly the size of a grapefruit, with multiple layers designed to contain urine. The outer layer of your bladder, called the epithelium, can become thinner if your kidney struggles to filter out toxins that get into the bladder.
In the case of ketamine abuse, the epithelial cells get damaged. Consequently, urine and other toxins in the urine reach the inner layers of the bladder wall, causing discomfort, pain, and more serious damage to the bladder, which can be tears. Bleeding is not uncommon in the later stages of this condition.
Abuse of ketamine for recreational and personal uses is a recent phenomenon, so studies are limited. So far, clinical trials suggest that using ketamine 1-4 times a month can cause some of the early symptoms in individuals more susceptible to urinary tract damage. However, everything is highly personal and depends on the frequency and the size of the dose, genetic predispositions, the health of your urinary tract, and your general health. Early symptoms of ketamine bladder can occur after only a few doses.
Initially, the strain and damage to the bladder are mild, so quitting completely from any usage of ketamine and similar substances, along with a healthy diet and medical supervision, is enough to significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms. In these early stages, a person who is abusing ketamine may experience a higher urgency to pee, even if their bladder is not full, with higher peeing frequency and mild pressure around the bladder. However, this can also be a symptom of drinking too much (alcohol) or having a common cold. By itself, none of the symptoms is a sure sign of urinary tract diseases related to ketamine abuse, so the best way to help a loved one heal is to assist them in getting a diagnosis and enough tests to know what causes these symptoms.
However, systemic ketamine abuse can lead to more severe damage that requires professional intervention or may even lead to irreversible damage to the bladder. Further damage can be spotted if urine begins to leak out involuntarily and there are drops of blood mixed in, giving it an orange or brown tinge. If you are looking for a reliable, confidential and secure service to treat your ketamine dependence, we are here for you. Your secret is safe with us, and your health is our priority. Do not let this drug control your life and well-being by going through detox and rehab services for ketamine abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Know If I’m Experiencing Symptoms?
Symptoms of ketamine bladder can be hard to spot in the beginning. Persistent light to medium pain, pressure and discomfort in the pelvic area and an unusually high need to pee throughout the day can be an indicator. If you have to urinate during the night when you previously didn’t or feel an urge even if your bladder isn’t full, that could also be a symptom of ketamine bladder syndrome. Of course, that is if you’re using ketamine or have used it recently. Symptoms rarely occur when one is not currently using the medication. Oftentimes, this is when the person did not notice them starting during the period of use and began observing them long after completing the treatment or period of abuse.
What Can I do If I Suspect I have Early Symptoms of Ketamine Bladder Syndrome?
No matter the case, it’s best to speak with a medical professional who can best assess the damage and the measures that need to be taken. In the meantime, you should abstain entirely from ketamine or limit the dose and frequency if you experience withdrawal symptoms. Before stopping your intake, however, you must notify the doctor who prescribed the medication to you and inform them about the change in the treatment so that they can find a valid substitute on time.
Is Damage To Ketamine Permanent?
Early stages of damage due to ketamine bladder syndrome are mostly reversible if you abstain completely from ketamine, lead a healthy lifestyle, and abstain from other similar substances. Most conditions which are symptomatic of ketamine bladder syndrome are treatable and curable if caught on time. Some longer-lasting symptoms can cause ongoing discomfort but will also disappear.
Does Ketamine Rehab Really Help in the Long-Term?
Yes, but instead of explaining to you the details of how ketamine rehabilitation helps (which you can read on in our relevant page on ketamine rehabilitation treatment), you can see for yourself from the success story of one of our alumni: Amy. Read about Amy’s story.