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Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol: Dangers & Risks

Ketamine misuse has become increasingly common, as has its co-misuse with alcohol.1 While research on this combination is limited, there is evidence that mixing ketamine and alcohol can have dangerous consequences.1 This page will help you learn more about the adverse health effects of mixing ketamine and alcohol and how to find treatment if you or someone you care about is struggling with ketamine and/or alcohol misuse.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that can have hallucinogenic effects.2 It is used as a surgical anesthetic in both animals and humans and is sometimes prescribed for treatment-resistant depression.3
Ketamine misuse refers to the non-medical use of ketamine. People misuse ketamine for various reasons, such as to feel its mind- and mood-altering effects or to have an emotional or spiritual experience.4 Some may misuse ketamine in an attempt to improve mental health or well-being, though its utility to such ends is not clear.4

Health Effects of Ketamine

The health effects of dissociative drugs like ketamine can be unpredictable and vary widely depending on several factors, such as a person’s age, sex, mindset, and surroundings, as well as the amount of ketamine consumed and its potency.3, 4
Potential health effects of ketamine can include:3, 4

  • Sedation.
  • Confusion.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Dangerously slowed breathing.

Health Risks of Using Ketamine and Alcohol Together

Using alcohol and ketamine together poses potentially serious risks because they can synergistically intensify the dangerous consequences of each substance.1

Research to date on this combination is limited but has found that some of the possible health effects of mixing ketamine and alcohol can include an increased risk of:1

  • Impaired coordination, memory, and speech.
  • Respiratory problems, including apnea, pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs), and respiratory depression.
  • Biliary and liver problems, including bile duct damage, impaired liver function, cirrhosis, and fibrosis.
  • Cardiac problems, including arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat) and tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats per minute).
  • Bladder and urinary problems, including cystitis (bladder infection) and dysuria (discomfort during urination).
  • Neurotoxicity (damage to the central and/or peripheral nervous system due to exposure to harmful substances).
  • Poor outcomes for people with anxiety or depression.

Overdose Risk of Alcohol and Ketamine

People who mix ketamine and alcohol, including ketamine and beer and ketamine and wine, are at an increased risk of experiencing a fatal overdose.1 Overdoses from dissociative drugs like ketamine alone are rare, but research shows the risk of overdose increases when these substances are combined with alcohol.4

Someone who is overdosing on alcohol and ketamine may experience dangerously slowed breathing and unconsciousness.2, 6 An overdose is a medical emergency. If you think someone is overdosing, call 911 right away and administer naloxone if you suspect opioid involvement.6, 7 Remain with the person until emergency services arrive and provide any additional information if you can, such as the substances they took, the amount they used, and whether they have any medical conditions.6, 7

Get Help for Ketamine and Alcohol Misuse

If you or someone you care about is struggling with ketamine and/or alcohol misuse, professional treatment is available. While treatment can vary, it may include different components, such as behavioral therapy and counseling, medication, and participation in support groups.8

Treatment may begin with detox, which refers to a set of interventions designed to help patients stop using substances as comfortably and safely as possible.8 There is evidence suggesting that ketamine use can lead to physiological dependence, meaning when a person reduces or stops using the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.9 One of the risks of alcohol dependence is withdrawal, which can lead to dangerous physiological effects.8, 9 Detox can help manage or mitigate potential complications associated with withdrawal and help patients reach a medically stable state, which can ease entry into treatment.8

Treatment may take place in different settings, including:10

  • Inpatient rehab, where patients live onsite at a rehab facility for the duration of treatment and receive 24/7 care and support.
  • Outpatient treatment, where patients can continue to live at home, but attend treatment at a rehab facility on a regular schedule.

When you’re ready to start the path to recovery, we’re here to help. Call our confidential and free helpline at to speak to a caring admissions navigator about your treatment options. You can also use our directories tool to find alcohol rehabs near you, and instantly check your insurance coverage for treatment online.

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