Ketamine, in the context of recreational drug abuse, can have severe effects on our bodies – with one of the major organs impacted being the bladder. But what does ketamine do to your bladder? And why is it so serious?

Find out the answer to this question and more below.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a very powerful, dissociative anaesthetic that has primarily been used in medical settings for surgeries and chronic pain management.

It is known for its ability to rapidly produce hallucinogenic effects, making users feel elated and relaxed. However, these same properties have led to its misuse as a recreational drug – which is a growing concern not only in the UK but also worldwide.

What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

When taken recreationally, ketamine can produce a wide range of sensations. People have commonly reported feeling happy and having a strong sense of peace but also being disconnected from their environment and their own bodies. This is known as dissociation.

Feeling dissociated can also be accompanied by both visual and auditory hallucinations, making it seem like time and space are distorted. This experience is informally known as something called a “k-hole,” which can be a very surreal and disorienting experience.

Although some users of this type of party drug may find these effects pleasant, ketamine abuse is also very likely to lead to confusion, dizziness, and nausea. The effects of ketamine are not always enjoyable and can be unpredictable.

An Overview: The Impact of Ketamine on Our Bodies

Ketamine can have several very serious impacts on our bodies, which is especially true with chronic use of ketamine. Some of the biggest areas of concern include (but are not limited to):

  • Kidney function: Chronic ketamine use can impair kidney function, leading to serious health issues over time.
  • Liver damage: The liver can also be damaged by prolonged ketamine use, affecting its ability to detoxify the body.
  • Gastrointestinal impacts: Users may experience severe stomach pain, nausea, and other gastrointestinal problems.
  • The potential of psychological dependence: Prolonged use can lead to psychological dependence, where individuals feel they cannot function normally without the drug.

One of the more severe impacts that ketamine can have is on our bladders, causing a condition known as ketamine bladder syndrome or ketamine cystitis. This condition can severely impact the overall quality of life, leading to a number of complications.

A Closer Look at How Ketamine Impacts Our Bladder

Ketamine is metabolised in the liver into various compounds, some of which are toxic. These ketamine metabolites are excreted in the urine and can irritate the bladder lining. This is why frequent, painful urination, incontinence, and even permanent bladder damage are all common side effects of long-term ketamine abuse.

Ketamine-induced cystitis (also referred to as ketamine-associated bladder dysfunction and ketamine bladder syndrome) is generally identified by inflammation and irritation of the bladder lining.

Here’s an overview of how this happens:

Common Ketamine Bladder Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of ketamine bladder syndrome are noticeable. But young people are often unaware that ketamine usage is the cause and what’s developing is serious as a result.

These symptoms can vary in severity and typically include:

  • Mild to severe urinary tract infections that are recurrent.
  • Early symptoms may start with increased urinary frequency.
  • A dull pain in the lower abdomen will progress to chronic and severe pain over time.
  • Blood in the urine due to the irritation of the bladder.
  • Recreational ketamine users may notice incontinence.
  • Experiencing pain during intercourse is also a common symptom of ketamine bladder.

How Serious Is It?

Ketamine bladder syndrome is a very serious condition that requires immediate attention. If left untreated, it can lead to irreversible bladder damage, as well as permanent harm to the kidneys. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove part or all of the bladder.

Treatment Options and Managing Ketamine Bladder Syndrome

Fortunately, ongoing research is exploring various treatment strategies aimed at alleviating these distressing symptoms. Among the promising avenues is the use of botulinum toxin. This treatment involves injections that have shown encouraging results in providing relief from some of the more intractable symptoms associated with KBS. The botulinum toxin works by relaxing the muscles in the bladder, thereby reducing pain and improving bladder function.

Early recognition of symptoms is essential when it comes to managing this condition effectively. The most effective way to prevent the development and progression of ketamine bladder syndrome is to completely and immediately stop using ketamine. Continued use of ketamine not only makes these symptoms worse but also leads to further damage to the urinary system, making treatment more challenging.

Managing ketamine bladder syndrome will also involve lifestyle changes. Staying well-hydrated, following a bladder-friendly diet, and avoiding potential irritants such as caffeine and alcohol can help manage symptoms. Pelvic floor exercises and physical therapy may also be recommended to strengthen bladder control and help with ongoing discomfort.

Reach Out for Ketamine Addiction Support Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with ketamine and you’re worried about the potential impact this could have, finding support is the best thing you can do. Call us today on 01253 847 553 for more information on our effective ketamine addiction programmes.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: June 28, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.