This week, Dancing on Ice and Drag Race UK star, The Vivienne has opened up about her battle with ketamine addiction before she found fame.
After becoming hooked on the substance while working in the Liverpool club scene, the star admitted that at one point, her drug problem became so severe she ended up being evicted from apartments because she had no money and even ended up in the hospital three times in the space of a month.
Though The Vivienne is now sober after getting clean six years ago, Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, has explained why abusing substances like ketamine is so dangerous, as well as highlighting the signs and symptoms of addiction to look out for if you’re worried about a loved one.
“Ketamine is a commonly used anaesthetic by doctors and vets, but the drug is abused illegally despite its medical use. Commonly referred to as “Ket”, Horse-tranquiliser’ and “Special K”, it gives the user a drunk-like feeling in small doses. However, a large dose has an extremely powerful, hallucinogenic and dissociative effect commonly called a “K-Hole.”
“When someone enters a “K-Hole”, they are temporarily unable to interact with others or the world around them. Ketamine is a dissociative drug which can make users feel detached from reality and themselves.”
“Studies have shown that ketamine addiction is not physical but purely psychological. That’s why ketamine is often used to alleviate anxiety or depression, as it induces a trance-like state whilst providing sedation and pain relief.”
“K-Holes’ are extremely dangerous as they can cause damaging mental and physical effects. Mentally, they can cause hallucinations, paranoia, extreme panic and short-term memory loss, which could all lead to long-term mental health issues. The user can also become violently agitated, putting themselves and others at risk. This is why festivals are one of the worst environments under the influence of ketamine, as the dissociative effects could cause psychosis-like experiences which are dangerous for everyone.”
“Physically, ketamine can cause vomiting, a slow heart rate and breathing problems. When frequently taken in a high dose, ketamine can cause the bladder to shrink, producing cloudy or bloody urine and pain when going to the toilet. In the worst cases of ketamine abuse, the damage can be irreversible, requiring a colostomy bag to be surgically placed to bypass the bladder alongside potential liver damage.”
Signs and symptoms of Ketamine addiction
- Frequent ketamine intoxication – A person who is addicted to ketamine will frequently display symptoms of intoxication such as inability to move, forgetfulness, slurred speech and appearance to be in a trance-like state. Due to ketamine‘s unique dissociative properties, these signs and symptoms are not difficult to spot.
- Continuing to use Ketamine despite the consequences – Someone who is abusing ketamine will often continue to use the substance despite any negative consequences it may have on their life, such as financial instability and or breakdown of relationships.
- Increasing use of Ketamine – When a person becomes addicted to a substance like ketamine, the longer they continue to use it, the more they will take to achieve the desired effect.
- Loss of control – Another sign of ketamine addiction that someone struggling might display is a loss of control over taking the substance. This may manifest itself in several ways, such as not being able to give up due to withdrawal symptoms or taking larger amounts of ketamine than intended.
- Financial problems – As well as physical health problems, ketamine addiction can also display itself through financial instability. You may notice a loved one selling or stealing items to fund their expensive problem – a person who uses three or more measurements a week can blow as much as £4,680 a year to fund their habit.
- Risk-taking – A person struggling with ketamine addiction may also display signs of risk-taking, such as driving under the influence.
- Poor performance at school, university or work – When someone is struggling with ketamine addiction, a key sign can be poor performance at work. This may be more obvious in those normally high achievers who suddenly become withdrawn or unbothered by work.
- Withdrawing from family and friends – Someone with ketamine addiction may also display signs of withdrawal from family or friends. This may be because they are trying to hide their problem out of fear of being judged.