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How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

Ketamine is a dissociative drug that is sometimes abused for its hallucinogenic effects, however, it is also available as a prescription that is used for pain relief, anesthesia, and treatment-resistant depression. In low doses, ketamine produces feelings of pain relief, relaxation, and sedation. But at high doses, the drug causes dissociation, detachment from reality, and hallucinations.[1]

Ketamine is often used in one of two ways. It can either be used as a nasal spray that is sprayed into the nose or as an intramuscular (IM) injection. IM ketamine produces effects within seconds while the nasal spray takes 2-4 minutes to kick in. The drug can also be snorted or swallowed.

Depending on the dose you took and how the drug is administered, the effects can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. How long ketamine stays in your system depends on the method of administration, frequency and duration of use, and the dose you take.

How Long Do the Effects of Ketamine Last?

How long the effects last varies depending on the method of administration:

  • Snorting ketamine produces effects within 10-15 minutes and they can last for an hour or more
  • Injecting ketamine produces near-instantaneous effects that last a maximum of 30 minutes
  • Swallowing ketamine in tablet form produces effects after 20-30 minutes and the effects can last for more than an hour

Effects of ketamine include:[2]

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Detachment from one’s body and surroundings
  • Pleasure
  • Hallucinations
  • Pain relief
  • Altered perceptions of time and space

How is Ketamine Metabolized in the Body?

The liver is the primary organ involved in metabolizing and eliminating ketamine from your system. It is broken down after the liver metabolizes it into something called norketamine. Norketamine is later metabolized into dehydronorketamine. Both norketamine and dehydronorketamine are eliminated from your body via urine and can be detected on a drug test.

When trying to figure out how long a drug will stay in your system, it is important to consider the drug’s elimination half-life. The elimination half-life refers to how long it takes 50% of a substance to be fully eliminated from your body. Ketamine has a short half-life of 2-4 hours.[3]

It takes about 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave your body completely, so it can take between eight and 20 hours for ketamine to leave your system. However, the metabolites it produces can stay in your system and be detected by various types of drug tests for several days.

Variables that Influence How Long Ketamine Stays in Your System

Ketamine leaves some peoples’ bodies faster than others. This is because the half-life isn’t the only factor that dictates how long the drug stays in your system. Other variables include:

  • Age, weight, and body mass
  • Frequency of ketamine use
  • How long you have been using ketamine
  • Your liver function
  • Overall metabolism
  • Polydrug use or alcohol use
  • Regular dose taken
  • Method of administration

Because these variables can be unique for every person, it is difficult to say exactly how long ketamine stays in your body. And, depending on the type of drug test, the detection window can range from a couple of days to several weeks.

When Can Ketamine be Detected on a Drug Test? Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair

Several types of drug tests can detect ketamine in your system. While the exact detection times vary based on the factors listed above, the average drug testing windows for ketamine are:[4]

  • Urine – Ketamine can typically be detected in urine for up to 14 days after the last dose, but there are some instances where research has found it in urine samples for up to 30 days. Urine tests are the most widely used type of drug test. Ketamine is also primarily eliminated from the body through the urine.
  • Blood – Blood tests can detect ketamine for 24-72 hours after your last dose.
  • Saliva – Ketamine can only be detected in your saliva for up to 24 hours.
  • Hair – Hair follicle drug tests have the longest detection window of all drug test types. Ketamine may be detected in the hair follicle for up to 90 days (three months).

You may be tempted to try and rush the detox process by drinking lots of fluids or taking an at-home detox kit, but these methods usually do not work. The only way to flush your system is to let your body metabolize ketamine naturally and eliminate it from your system over time. But if you are a habitual ketamine user, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking the drug.

Ketamine Abuse Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

Common symptoms of ketamine withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vision and hearing issues
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate

Many of the psychological symptoms of withdrawal can be severe and require medical stabilization. A drug and alcohol detox facility can help you detox safely and comfortably while under 24/7 medical supervision.

Find Help for Ketamine Abuse and Addiction Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, South Carolina Addiction Treatment can help. Call now to speak with a qualified admissions coordinator about starting detox and treatment.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258981/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7152956/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6197107/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020109/

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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