How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?


how long ketamine stays in the system

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic substance that is used medically for the induction of anesthesia. While this substance does have medicinal use, people also abuse it recreationally for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. On the street, individuals may refer to ketamine as “special K,” “ket,” or “K.” [1]

Ketamine is a popular rave or club drug that is popular among teens and young adults. Typically, it is found in a powder form, allowing users to snort the substance and experience a rapid onset of effects. Abusing ketamine can lead to addiction and life-threatening overdoses characterized by respiratory depression and unconsciousness.

Knowing how long ketamine stays in your system can prevent you from taking too much of the substance at once and experiencing an overdose, but the rate at which the body metabolizes it may vary. If you or a loved one are addicted to ketamine, please contact us at Moving Mountains Recovery today to learn about your addiction treatment options.

How Long Do the Effects of Ketamine Last?

Ketamine is typically snorted when it is abused recreationally, so users usually experience a rapid onset of effects that begin 10 to 15 minutes after ingestion. If the drug is taken in tablet form, the onset of its effects can take 20 to 30 minutes.

Usually, the effects of ketamine last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. How long the effects last heavily depend on the dosage you are taking.

The common effects of ketamine include:[1]

  • Feelings of euphoria and pleasure
  • Relaxation
  • Hallucinations
  • Altered perception of space and time
  • Feeling detached from your body and surroundings
  • An inability to feel pain

Many people take large amounts of ketamine to experience something known as a “k hole” which causes people to have a hallucinogenic experience similar to LSD, however, they become unresponsive to outside stimuli. When someone is in this state, they might experience symptoms such as involuntary rapid eye movement, dilated pupils, salivation, tear secretions, and stiffening of the muscles.[2]

How Long Does Ketamine Remain in Your Body?

Ketamine has a half-life of about 2.5 to 3 hours in adults. This means that 50% of the substance is eliminated by your body within 2.5 to 3 hours. Typically, it takes 4 to 5 half-lives for ketamine to be completely removed from your system, which equates to about 10 to 12 hours.[3]

While ketamine is removed from your body after 12 hours, the metabolites of the substance will remain in your system longer. About 90% of the substance is excreted in your urine in the form of metabolites, but drug tests can detect the substance in your body for a longer period.[3]

How long a drug test can detect ketamine in your system will depend on the type of test you are using.


Ketamine can be detected in your system for about 14 days when using a urinalysis drug test. However, individuals who abuse this substance heavily and frequently may test positive for the substance for up to 30 days.


Saliva tests are not as reliable as urine tests, however, some companies may use them for employment screening purposes. Saliva tests can detect ketamine in your system for up to 24 hours after you last used it.


Blood tests can detect ketamine in your system for up to 3 days after your last dose. However, these tests are more effective within 24 hours of your last use.


Hair tests are the most reliable drug tests, as they can detect any drug you use for 90 days. However, these tests can be extremely expensive, causing them to be one of the least commonly used forms of drug testing.

Factors that Influence How Long Ketamine Stays in Your System

Several factors influence how long ketamine stays in your system. While most people follow the general timeline displayed above, some individuals may have ketamine metabolites in their system for longer than others. This is especially true for people who have been abusing ketamine for an extended period at high doses.

Other factors that influence how long ketamine stays in your system include:[4]

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Biological sex
  • Your level of hydration
  • Metabolism rate
  • Kidney and liver functioning
  • The dosage of ketamine you use
  • How frequently you abuse ketamine
  • Whether you abuse other substances or take certain medications

For example, an older individual with a slower metabolism or damage to their liver may take a longer time to eliminate the drug from their system. Additionally, when your body has multiple substances to eliminate, it may take longer for ketamine to leave your system.

Get Connected With a Ketamine Abuse and Addiction Rehab Center

If you or a loved one abuses ketamine regularly, you are at an increased risk of developing adverse physical or mental health conditions. Over time, you will develop an addiction to ketamine, which could lead to various consequences such as legal issues, financial hardships, organ damage, emotional distress, and life-threatening emergencies like overdoses.

Attending a professional drug rehab program can ensure that you receive the support and tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. To learn more about our ketamine abuse and addiction treatment program, contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today.


  1. National Library of Medicine; Rosenbaum SB, Gupta V, Patel P, et al.; Ketamine, Retrieved Feb 2023 from:
  2. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA): Drug Fact Sheet: Ketamine, Retrieved Feb 2023 from:
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ketamine, Retrieved Feb 2023 from:
  4. National Library of Medicine; Garza AZ, Park SB, Kocz R.: Drug Elimination, Retrieved Feb 2023 from:
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