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How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

Get answers to questions like “how long does ketamine stay in your system?” and “where can I get help?” here.

What is Ketamine?

What is ketamine, and how long does ketamine stay in your system? Ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug that makes users feel “out of touch” with their thoughts and actions. It also increases sedation, relieves pain, and causes temporary amnesia (no memory of the events that occur while under its influence).1

Ketamine is a liquid or powdered drug. It can be snorted or injected. Injectable forms of ketamine are used legally as anesthetics for animals and humans during medical procedures. Powdered ketamine can be mixed with beverages or added to other drugs like tobacco or marijuana. It can also be snorted or pressed into tablets. The route of use may impact several factors, such as “how long does ketamine stay in your system?”

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Overview of Ketamine

When researching “how long does ketamine stay in your system?” it may help to look at the various street names for ketamine. These may include Cat Valium, Jet K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, and Vitamin K. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice indicate individuals between ages twelve and twenty-five account for up to 75% of emergency room mentions in the United States.2
Ketamine use among high school students has declined since 2000, but research still shows approximately 1.2% of twelfth-grade students used ketamine in the last year.3

Is Ketamine Addictive?

How long does ketamine stay in your system, and is thes substance addictive? When used under the supervision of medical providers, ketamine is generally considered safe. However, if abused or misused, ketamine toxicity can lead to severe medical reactions and, in some cases, death. When mixed with other drugs, the dangers of ketamine use increase. When combined with other sedative drugs such as alcohol, over-sedation can occur.

This can lead to medical emergencies such as respiratory arrest, coma, cardiac arrest, overdose, and death. It is important to know answers to questions like “how long does Ketamine stay in your system?” to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. 

Drug Class and Schedule

Information about “how long does ketamine stay in your system?” will also include information about schedules and classes of drugs. The drug classification system classifies ketamine as a general anesthetic and sedative. It is approved for use alone or with other medications in medical environments for pain management and rapid sedation. The Drug Enforcement Administration also separates drugs by schedules ranging from Schedule I to Schedule V. 

Ketamine is a schedule III drug. Like other drugs from the same group, ketamine has various medically-acceptable uses and moderate potential for abuse and addiction. Other drugs that are categorized as schedule III include suboxone, Tylenol with codeine, and anabolic steroids.4

Ketamine for Depression

In early 2019,  the Food and Drug Administration approved a ketamine-based nasal spray called esketamine  (Spravato) for depression treatment. Questions about “how long does ketamine stay in your system vs. other depressant drugs” led to expedited FDA approval.
The way the brain reacts to ketamine makes it different from other antidepressant drugs. One benefit to ketamine nasal spray is that it remains effective far longer than other antidepressants.5

Ketamine Statistics

In one study, seventy percent of participants with treatment-resistant depression showed improvement when using an oral antidepressant and ketamine nasal spray compared with the placebo group (those who did not relieve the spray).6
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in late 2022 indicated that ketamine infusions led to significant symptom reduction for individuals with depression. The study of more than 400 patients showed as many as 72% experienced an improvement in mood, and 38% were symptom-free after ten ketamine infusions.7

Ketamine Side Effects

The effects of ketamine use depend on how it is introduced to the body and how much or how often one uses it. Specific details on how long does ketamine stay in your system in quantities sufficient to cause side effects also vary from person to person. Within a couple of minutes after taking ketamine, it is not uncommon to experience elevated heart rate and blood pressure. But over the next ten to thirty minutes, both heart rate and blood pressure decrease, sometimes to the point of unresponsiveness.
It is possible to experience dilated pupils, salivation, muscle stiffness, and involuntary rapid eye movements. Ketamine use can also lead to nausea and dangerous levels of sedation. Ketamine is an anesthetic, so it reduces levels of sensation and feeling in the body. Some people become confused and nauseous. Others are detached and experience a “dreamlike” state. 

What Does Ketamine Do?

Ketamine can cause hallucinations, panic attacks, agitation, and short- and long-term memory difficulties. Because your perception of pain and discomfort is dramatically altered when using ketamine, it is possible to injure or severely hurt yourself and be unaware of it until Ketamine wears off.

How Long Does Ketamine Last?

How long does ketamine stay in your system? Ketamine is a fast-acting drug, so it takes between fifteen minutes and one hour to take effect, depending on how it is used. The “high” from taking ketamine can last between thirty and sixty minutes. Many people experience a period of low mood that can last for several days after using ketamine.

Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Many studies suggest a moderate risk for physical dependence on ketamine. Chronic and frequent users often experience psychological dependence and cravings for the drug when they try to reduce or stop using it entirely. Like many drugs, repeated use can lead to tolerance to its effects. Tolerance requires higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same “high” once attained with lower doses. 
This pattern can inevitably lead to addiction. Studies suggest that withdrawal from ketamine may be similar to other addictive substances. For example, cocaine withdrawal leads to powerful and sometimes overwhelming cravings for the drug; however, not necessarily the physical symptoms.8

Examples of Ketamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Examples of common ketamine withdrawal symptoms include depression and anxiety, mood swings, difficulties with sleep, shaking, nausea and stomach upset, sweating, elevated body temperature, irregular heart rate and heart palpitations, and cravings.

It is important to be able to recognize ketamine withdrawal symptoms in order to effectively seek treatment when necessary.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

The question “how long does ketamine stay in your system” has several answers. As with other drugs, the time it takes for your body to process ketamine and the time frame during which various tests can detect the presence of ketamine vary. 
Variations depend on the test and how much of the drug you take. Ketamine has a half-life of approximately three hours. It takes up to three hours for the body to eliminate half of a dose. It can take between ten and twelve hours for your body to eliminate a full dose of ketamine.

Factors Influencing Ketamine Half-Life

Several factors impact the speed at which your body processes ketamine and affect the answer to “how long does ketamine stay in your system?” These include:
  • Body mass/body fat
  • Genetics
  • Metabolism
  • Urinary PH
  • The use of other drugs

Ketamine Detection

How long does ketamine stay in your system for testing? This varies depending on the type of test. For example, saliva and blood tests are only adequate for approximately 24 hours after use. 

Urine tests can detect ketamine in the urine for up to fourteen days. Hair tests can tell you more about how long does ketamine stay in your system for up to thirty days.9

Treatment for Ketamine Addiction

Ketamine addiction is primarily a psychological addiction. For this reason, it is essential to choose a treatment program like ours at Ripple Ranch Recovery near Austin, Texas, where each stage of your treatment and recovery are part of a single comprehensive program. 


Detoxification is the first step in ketamine addiction treatment. Detox is necessary to allow your body to cleanse itself of any remaining drugs in a safe and supported way. When trying to quit ketamine “cold turkey,” cravings can quickly become overpowering, leading to relapse. 

There is also the potential for certain physical withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, our providers will closely monitor your breathing and heart rate throughout the early stages of treatment.


Our inpatient rehab provides treatment programs for ketamine addiction. The duration of your treatment will vary depending on your treatment needs. As noted above, ketamine addiction is a psychological addiction. Thus, behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy are often used.

Peer Support Groups

Peer support is a vital element of any SUD treatment program. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and similar groups allow individuals at all stages of recovery to give and receive support from others who share a similar journey.


Aftercare programs begin immediately after your primary treatment program ends. Aftercare is a vital component of relapse prevention. These programs generally include pre-scheduled medical appointments, ongoing therapy, peer support groups, and for some, sober living options.

Reach Out to Ripple Ranch Recovery for Support

If you or someone you love is living with ketamine addiction, reach out for help. Our experienced, dedicated team of treatment professionals at Ripple Ranch Recovery is here to help you take your first steps toward sobriety. Each of our individually designed treatment programs approaches addiction care holistically. 

To learn more about ketamine treatment and answers to questions like “how long does ketamine stay in your system” and “how to quit ketamine,” contact us today.