Drug and Alcohol

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System? Get the Facts About Ketamine, Drug Tests, & More

How long does ketamine stay in your system? This anesthetic, used as a party drug, can stay around for a long time. Learn more in our blog.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: What You Need to Know

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 22, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Ketamine has earned a notorious reputation for its hypnotic effects along with its potential therapeutic applications. But here's a thought-provoking question: How long does this mysterious substance stay in your system?

Dissociative anesthetics are a part of the hallucinogen drug class. Ketamine, DXM, and phencyclidine (PCP) are two widely abused dissociative drugs that work as psychedelic drugs. They produce a dissociative feeling that removes the user from reality and detaches them from the environment. Dissociative drugs like ketamine are capable of inducing hallucinations and emotional instability.

Stats About Ketamine:

The statistics show that nearly 3 million people in the United States of America between the ages of 12 and 25 have used ketamine at least once.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is used for medicinal purposes in animals. It is a traditional veterinary medicine that is used to sedate animals. This drug is also known by various street names like Valium, Cat, Vitamin K, Special K, Kit Kat, and Dorothy. Ketamine produces sedation-like disassociation and mind-altering feelings.

Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 and approved for the United States market in 1970. It is classified under the United States Controlled Substances Act and is placed under Schedule III drugs. The Schedule III category is for those substances that have a) medicinal purpose and b) moderate or low levels of physical and mental dependence. Such is the case with ketamine, too, as it is an approved general anesthetic with abuse potential. 

Sometimes doctors and physicians prescribe ketamine for off-label uses, such as depression. Off-label use is a practice where a drug is used to treat a condition that FDA officials do not approve. Ketamine is sometimes used in cases where there is a need for sedation but not from strong anesthetics, as its effects can be too severe to handle. It is sold under the name Ketalar and has hallucinogenic properties many people abuse. 

Ketamine abuse can cause health problems like short-term memory loss, incapacitation, sedation, and disorientation. This drug has also gained a notorious reputation for being a date rape drug. Date rape drugs are those substances used by people with the criminal intention of sexually assaulting and raping others. They mix the drinks with drugs like ketamine to make their target unconscious.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: What Does Ketamine Do?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. This means it has effects that lead to the distortion of reality. Users experience an altered visual and auditory perception. It can also cause incapacitation, implying a person cannot move. Some people who abuse ketamine have mentioned being in an utter state of bliss, while others have talked about going through a near-death experience.

Ketamine can be used in the following ways:

Approved General Anesthesia

The FDA has approved ketamine as a general anesthetic. This causes short-term sedation and is used for fractures, relocation, and dealing with children's wounds. 

Treating Status Epilepticus

Status epilepticus is when a person has a seizure for 5 minutes or has more than one seizure within 5 minutes. 


Another off-label use is the treatment of depression. Some research has shown that people who do not respond to other treatments have responded well to ketamine. 

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: Is Ketamine Addictive?

Ketamine is an addictive drug that can cause loss of consciousness, pain relief, and sedation. Addiction to it can be hard to recover from and can quickly lead to the development of tolerance. The inappropriate use of ketamine can be life-threatening too. They can impair their cognitive skills and damage their memory and speech too. It is illegal to use ketamine without a doctor's prescription.

It is available in liquid injectable formulations, but some people abuse it in powdered or pill form as well.

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How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

How long ketamine stays in a person's system depends on various factors. This is because the length of its stay can vary from one person to another.

A few of these factors are:

Health & Age

This factor plays a significant role as younger people have better metabolism than older people. A healthy system will flush out ketamine faster. 


People who care about their hydration level can flush the drug out through urine. So, the higher the hydration level, the quicker ketamine will be removed from the system. 

Kidneys & Liver

The kidney and liver are the two most important factors to flush ketamine out. If these organs are impaired, the process will be slow. 

Body Mass Level

A higher level of body mass implies higher metabolism. It would mean that the dose of ketamine is overall minute compared to a higher body mass level. So higher body mass can flush ketamine quicker. 

Ketamine Dosage

People with excess ketamine usage will take a longer removal time. Our body has to work harder to remove the higher amount. 


People who frequently abuse ketamine can get caught up in a circle where they take one dose after another without removing the previous dose. The piling up of Ketamine will take longer to be removed from the system.

Multiple Drugs

Some people mix ketamine with other drug substances. Our body has to work by breaking all these substances together. This would take a long time too. 

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: What is the Half-Life of Ketamine?

A half-life of ketamine or any drug is the time it takes for half of a dose of a drug to leave a person's system. Any substance's half-life helps us determine how long it typically takes for a drug to be flushed from a system. For example, the half-life of Ketamine is considered to be around 45 minutes. This means that in 45 minutes, half of the ketamine dose consumed by a person will be flushed out.

Ketamine half-life also implies that it takes five half-live cycles to eliminate the whole dosage from the system. This would make it somewhere between 3 hours and 45 minutes. 

However, it is essential to note that only a healthy adult body with properly functioning organs can eliminate ketamine within this period. So, everyone differs slightly in the duration of ketamine removal from the time mentioned above.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: How Long Does Ketamine Affect Our System?

Ketamine in injectable form shows its effect instantly. The intravenous method of administration works as quickly as mere seconds. However, ketamine takes around four minutes to show its effects if injected into the muscles. The hallucinogenic effects of ketamine last for about 15 to 30 minutes.

However, suppose ketamine is taken any other way for recreational use. In that case, ketamine’s effects can include distorted perception and out-of-body experience. Ketamine is abused by snorting, smoking, or swallowing it. Snorted ketamine effects start after 10-15 minutes, while oral ingestion can onset the effects after 20 minutes or more. The effect of Ketamine can last for 30 minutes to 1 hour by such methods. 

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How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

A few ketamine effects are:

  • Hallucinations

  • Euphoria

  • Detachment from reality

  • Altered perception

  • Pain relief

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: How Long Does Ketamine Show Up on Drug Tests?

Like any other drug, ketamine can be detected in drug tests. Even though this type of drug is not a part of standard drug tests, employers and doctors can order a special test for them. If they suspect that someone might be using ketamine, they can take a special test. Employers widely use these tests to check ketamine usage.

Let's look at what body parts ketamine can stay and get detected:

Urine Test for Ketamine

Our urine can have ketamine traces in it due to a breakdown product known as norketamine. A urine test can determine ketamine for up to 14 days since the last use. 

Blood Test for Ketamine

It is rare for people to opt for blood tests to detect ketamine. But this does not mean it does not take place. Blood tests can identify ketamine traces for up to 3 days after the last time someone has consumed it.

Saliva Test for Ketamine

The saliva test detection window for ketamine is for up to 24 hours. 

Hair Test for Ketamine

Our hair can retain ketamine traces for 7 to 10 days. The hair test detection window for ketamine is up to 90 days from the last use. 

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System: Is Ketamine Addiction Treatable?

Ketamine addiction can be identified by a person's inability to stop using ketamine despite knowing the negative consequences it can lead to. They know that ketamine is ruining their lives, disrupting their relationships, deteriorating their health, declining careers, and yet cannot stop. If these people try to stop regular usage, they undergo withdrawal symptoms.

So, one can understand the importance and seriousness of ketamine addiction. Thankfully, treatment can help. Compressively effective treatment can help a person quit ketamine. Treatment for ketamine involves medications, psychotherapies, support group activities, and aftercare plans. 

A few psychotherapies used in the treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, individual/group sessions, and motivational enhancement therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients through several significant changes in life. CBT helps people develop new patterns to change their lifestyle and cope with the triggers and cravings. These forms of addiction treatment also assist a patient in developing a new outlook on life.

Drug rehab centers have various methods to assist the recovery of patients. It can vary from detox programs, aftercare plans, and other essential services to overcome ketamine dependency. 

No U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication is available to treat ketamine addiction. However, many doctors have prescribed medicines to help with underlying mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD.

Apart from this, friends and family support are vital during recovery. It becomes a fundamental part of overcoming ketamine addiction.

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Do you need advice about how long ketamine stays in your system? Reach out today.

Don’t Quit Ketamine on Your Own. Get Help Today at The Forge Recovery Center

Addiction as a concept has seen lots of ups and downs. Historically, it was seen as a moral failing and character defect rather than a health disorder. Only in this century has drug and alcohol addiction finally been taken seriously. Since more and more people have come forward with this problem, the public has started to accept it.

Judgment, hesitation, taboo, and embarrassment still play a big part, but the situation is not as bad as before. Today, drug and alcohol addiction is officially considered a chronic health condition that severely impacts the user's physical and mental faculties. Addiction can now be overcome and treated with the help of various treatment options. 

Guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, The Forge Recovery Center provides effective, evidence-based care for ketamine addiction and dual diagnosis. We’ve carefully built a safe, welcoming space where the roots of addiction can safely be explored and treated.

At The Forge Recovery Center, we have a comprehensive range of addiction treatment services, including both inpatient and outpatient programs, behavioral counseling, pharmaceutical treatment, aftercare plans, support groups, and emergency services when needed. Acknowledging that addiction affects each person differently, The Forge Recovery Center offers individualized plans that recognize the uniqueness of every case.

Don’t go through recovery alone. With The Forge Recovery Center, you’ll have a team on your side. To learn more about our effective ketamine addiction program, reach out to us today.

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