How to protect yourself: Understanding the dangers of mixing ketamine and alcohol

Ketamine, widely recognised as a medical anaesthetic and analgesic, has seen a surge in recreational use. In 2019-2020, England and Wales witnessed a notable rise in ketamine misuse, reaching record levels. This escalating trend poses serious concerns regarding the well-being of the growing number of individuals partaking in its recreational use.

One of the primary concerns revolves around the combination of alcohol and ketamine. In this help guide, we delve into the dangers of mixing alcohol and ketamine, exploring the potential effects on both the mind and body.

What is ketamine and how does it affect the body?

Ketamine is a versatile medication that has both medical and veterinary uses. In the context of veterinary medicine, ketamine is primarily employed as an anaesthetic and analgesic, especially in procedures that require sedation and pain management for animals.

Its use in human medicine is also significant and has been employed as an anaesthetic and analgesic in emergency medicine and pain management. Recent research has also been applied to how the drug helps with mental health issues such as depression.

Ketamine works by blocking N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain, leading to a dissociative state where people may feel detached from their surroundings and experience hallucinations. Due to its mind-altering effects, it is used recreationally, often in social settings or parties.

Why do people mix ketamine and alcohol?

There’s never just one sole reason why people take drugs, and this is the same for mixing them, too. Here are some of the most likely reasons that people mix alcohol and ketamine:


Lack of judgement and impulsivity

When you use ketamine and alcohol together, it can significantly affect your thought process and cause you to make rash decisions, perhaps something you wouldn’t normally do. Your ability to make good decisions goes down, and you might not realise how risky your actions are.

People tend to act more recklessly because both alcohol and ketamine affect a part of the brain that usually helps control impulsive behaviour. This can lead to doing things you normally avoid, like taking unnecessary risks or entering dangerous situations.



Escape from reality

The combination of ketamine and alcohol is often used as a means of escape from reality. Ketamine can create a sense of detachment from the surroundings, while alcohol’s sedative effects contribute to numbing emotional pain.

Unfortunately, relying on this combination as a coping mechanism can exacerbate underlying mental health issues. Instead of addressing and resolving emotional challenges, individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of substance use that could result in addiction.




A lack of accurate information about the risks associated with combining ketamine and alcohol can contribute to the misconception that this combination is safe or enjoyable. Individuals may be unaware of potential adverse effects on the central nervous, respiratory, and mental health. This false sense of security can come from friends, online forums, or unreliable sources.


Intensifying party atmosphere

Some people may think that combining ketamine and alcohol enhances the party atmosphere or social experience. This misguided belief can lead to a whole range of issues, including accidents and the risk of overdose.

The dangers of mixing ketamine and alcohol

Here, we take a comprehensive look at the massive amount of different issues that ketamine can bring to a user. We’ve divided this into sections to emphasise that mixing the two is never good in the short or long term.

Long-term dangers of using ketamine and alcohol

Physical health issues
Urinary tract problems: Chronic ketamine use has been linked to various urinary tract issues, including inflammation and damage to the bladder lining. Users may experience symptoms such as frequent urination, urgency to urinate and pain during urination.

Liver damage: Both ketamine and alcohol are metabolised by the liver. Prolonged use of these substances can overwhelm the liver’s detoxification capabilities, leading to liver damage. Conditions such as fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, or cirrhosis may develop over time.

Cardiovascular issues: Ketamine and alcohol can individually contribute to cardiovascular problems, and their combined use may exacerbate these issues.
Increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and the potential for heart rhythm disturbances are concerns associated with long-term use.

Addiction: Combining both ketamine and alcohol could result in a higher potential for ketamine addiction, alcohol addiction or a co-dependence on both substances.

Mental health issues
Anxiety: Chronic ketamine and alcohol use can contribute to heightened levels of anxiety. This may manifest as generalised anxiety, panic attacks, or increased social anxiety. A 2016 study found that 15.3% of the participants (recreational ketamine users) were suffering from anxiety disorder.
The substances’ impact on neurotransmitters and the central nervous system can contribute to the development or worsening of anxiety disorders.

Depression: Both ketamine and alcohol affect neurotransmitters associated with mood regulation. Long-term recreational abuse of ketamine may induce depressive symptoms.

Cognitive impairment: Long-term use of ketamine and alcohol can impair cognitive function, affecting memory and attention. Chronic substance use may contribute to difficulties in learning and decision-making.

Short-term dangers of using ketamine and alcohol

Central Nervous System Depression
Both ketamine and alcohol depress the central nervous system, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular depression. Combining these substances can result in significantly slowed breathing, heart rate irregularities and, in severe cases, respiratory failure or coma.
Increased risk of accidents
Ketamine and alcohol impair judgement and reaction times individually. Combining them heightens these effects, significantly increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Tasks such as driving or operating machinery become particularly dangerous, threatening the user and those around them.
Unpredictable behaviours
Users may exhibit unpredictable behaviour, leading to risky actions and poor decision-making. The impaired state induced by the combination poses a danger to the user and others in their immediate environment.
After the acute effects wear off, users may experience a “comedown” characterised by fatigue and lethargy. The impaired mental state and emotional instability during the comedown period may render individuals more vulnerable to psychological distress.
Worsening of pre-existing mental health conditions
Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, may experience a worsening of their symptoms during and after ketamine and alcohol use. The substances can interfere with neurotransmitter balance, intensifying mental health challenges and potentially triggering acute episodes.

The potential for ‘Date Rape’

The term’ ket hole’ refers to a state of profound dissociation induced by a high dose of ketamine. People in this state may find themselves incapacitated, rendering them vulnerable to situations as grave as sexual assault. The possibility of memory loss further exacerbates the gravity of the situation after the effects have worn off, making it incredibly challenging for victims to recollect the events they may have endured..

Research has shown that amongst substances like GHB and Rhoypnol, Ketamine is also a common substance used in date rape situations.

Signs of ketamine and alcohol overdose

If you’ve taken ketamine and alcohol together and noticed the following signs in yourself or others, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness

These symptoms may indicate a serious medical condition and require immediate evaluation by a healthcare professional. Delaying medical care in such situations can be dangerous. If you or someone else is experiencing these signs, call emergency services or visit the nearest emergency room for assistance.

I’ve taken alcohol and ketamine- what should I do?

If someone you know mixes ketamine with alcohol, remain calm and ensure safety first. Reassure them and stay hydrated with gentle sips of water, avoiding overconsumption due to ketamine’s dehydrating effects. Avoid adding more substances, as this can heighten risks. Wait for the effects to diminish naturally. If there’s any concern or deterioration in the condition, seek immediate medical assistance.

How do I know if I have an issue with mixing ketamine and alcohol?

If you’ve been noticing an increase in your usage of ketamine and alcohol recently, it may be time for a self-evaluation. Below are seven questions that you could ask yourself to determine if your behaviours are concerning;

  1. Have you found that you need to consume more alcohol or ketamine to achieve the same effects as before?
  2. Do you find it difficult to control or limit your alcohol or ketamine intake, even when you intend to do so?
  3. Have you experienced cravings or strong urges to use alcohol or ketamine?
  4. Is the use of alcohol or ketamine interfering with your daily responsibilities, such as work, school, or relationships?
  5. Have you continued to use alcohol or ketamine despite being aware of the negative physical or psychological consequences?
  6. Have you noticed a significant amount of time being spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol or ketamine?
  7. Have you suffered from withdrawal symptoms when attempting to detox from one or both of the substances?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it could indicate that you have an issue with alcohol, ketamine or even both. It’s crucial to consider the option of alcohol rehab or ketamine rehab to address the issues.

How can UKAT help with ketamine and alcohol addiction?

If you’re seeking a path to recovery from alcohol or ketamine addiction, remember that UKAT is here for you. Our compassionate team provides expert guidance and support on your journey to sobriety.

With rehab treatment plans, detox for both alcohol and ketamine, rehab and a commitment to your well-being, UKAT offers a lifeline for those ready to break free from addiction.

Reach out to us today, and let us guide you on the path to recovery.

Call us now for help

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