How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

Special K or Ketamine is a strong hallucinogenic drug, often available in powder, liquid, and tablet forms. Usually, addicts and patients with prescriptions consume it by snorting or swallowing, many inject it in their bodies. The original application of Ketamine was as a painkiller in healthcare or vet facilities during operations. However, due to its high potential for addiction, it gradually gained popularity, having negative consequences. But do you know how long does ketamine stay in your system?
Understanding the duration of ketamine in the body is crucial to avoid potential overdose or adverse effects. Furthermore, it aids people in making informed decisions regarding their activities and commitments. Read more to know the working of Ketamine and the duration of its effect on the human body.

How Ketamine Works

In the 1960s, scientists first synthesized Ketamine for war rescue missions as a sedative and an aesthetic. However, by the time it became abundantly available, somewhere in the 80s, it became voguish among teens. One of Ketamine’s forms, Esketamine was approved for antidepressant augmentations by FDA. So, what’s the working behind such a multipurpose drug? Ketamine is popularly called a “Dirty drug” by scientists as it doesn’t attack a certain part of your brain.

If you would have any idea how long does ketamine stay in your system, you’ll never consume it. Restricting the actions of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), it affects every system within your brain, provoking an amnesiac effect. It also targets your glutamate system which is used in the brain for neurons to communicate. When you consume ketamine at high doses, it blocks glutamate while at low doses, it increases glutamate production. It can have numerous effects on the human body, causing hallucinations and losing realistic sense. It can be helpful for rebuilding neuronal synapses, especially for depressed or stressed people who start losing their connection.

Factors Affecting How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System

There are various factors that might affect how long does ketamine stay in your system. From metabolism and physiological factors to consumption frequency, some of these include:

Body Variability

Each person’s physiology and unique characteristics can affect how their body processes and eliminates ketamine. Factors such as age, gender, overall health, and genetic variations can contribute to the duration of ketamine.


Individual metabolism can influence the breakdown and elimination of ketamine from the body. For instance, liver function, enzyme activity, and genetic variations can affect how long does ketamine stay in your system.

Hepatic Function

Your kidneys and liver can play a huge role in flushing ketamine out of your system. If there are issues with hepatic function, such as a disease or damage, it can prolong its duration.

Hydration Level

Most of the time, ketamine passes away from your body through urine. Water can help boost the elimination of ketamine from your system. This can be beneficial for people concerned about how long does ketamine stay in your system. Additionally, frequent urination can potentially shorten the detection window for ketamine in urine tests.

Body Mass

Body weight, body fat percentage, and overall health can influence the distribution and elimination of ketamine. Subsequently, people with higher body fat content may retain ketamine for more duration compared to those with lower body fat.

Dosage & Usage Frequency

Frequent usage can lead to Ketamine accumulation and easy to determine how long does ketamine stay in your system. Evidently, the higher your intake gets, the harder you’ll have to try to excrete it out of your body. Usually, the addicts may end up taking another dose even before the last one leaves their system.

Interactions With Other Substances

The use of other substances, such as alcohol or certain medications, can interact with ketamine’s metabolism and elimination. Thus these interactions can affect how long ketamine remains in the system

Detection Methods for Ketamine

When considering how long ketamine does stay in your system, the detection windows for ketamine may vary. The method chosen depends on the specific requirements of the testing samples, including the purpose and available resources.
Here’s a breakdown of the detection methods commonly used for each sample type:

Urine tests

For drug screening purposes, most labs employ frequent urine tests due to their non-invasive nature and ease of collection. Immunoassays are commonly used as initial screening tests for detecting ketamine in urine samples. If the immunoassay yields a positive result, confirmatory testing is typically performed using more specific methods. These methods are gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS).

Blood tests

Another method that helps you answer “How long does ketamine stay in your system?” is the blood test. You can identify recent dosages, intoxication, or excessive usage with the help of these tests. Similar to urine tests, initial screening can be done using immunoassays to check for the presence of ketamine. By analyzing blood samples, healthcare professionals can determine the presence of ketamine and estimate its duration in the system. Although the exact timeframe can vary based on factors such as dosage, frequency of use, and individual metabolism.

Hair tests

Hair analysis can provide a longer detection window for ketamine use compared to urine or blood tests. When a person consumes ketamine, trace amounts of the drug are incorporated into the growing hair shaft. Analysis of hair samples can detect ketamine use over a longer period, up to even years. Most labs use GC-MS or LC-MS approach for analyzing hair samples.

Saliva tests

Saliva tests, also known as oral fluid tests, have gained popularity as a non-invasive method for drug screening. Additionality, they can provide valuable information regarding drug use, including ketamine. Saliva can settle the curiosity of how long does ketamine stay in your system? with a restricted detection window. Along with a comprehensive analysis of drug exposure, it also offers accurate quantification of ketamine or its metabolites in saliva.

Duration of Ketamine's Effects

When it comes to how long does ketamine stay in your system, there are many factors to consider. Here is a general overview of the typical duration of ketamine’s effects:

Onset & Peak Effects

When ketamine is administered intravenously or intramuscularly, its effects are usually felt within a few minutes. With the peak occurring around 5 to 15 minutes after administration. However, onset and peak effects may be slightly delayed when ketamine is taken orally or intranasally.

Physical Effects

Ketamine can have various physical impacts on the body when consumed. Following are some of the common physical effects of ketamine:

Short term:

Long term:

Mental impact

Ketamine is primarily known for its dissociative effects. Besides how long does ketamine stay in your system, its impact on your mental health can be drastic. Therefore, its mental effects can include:

Short term:

Long term:

Recovery & After-Effects

After the peak effects subside, affected people usually begin to recover from the dissociative state. However, residual effects can persist for several hours. These may include drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, impaired coordination, and a sense of mental fog. In most situations, the exact duration of these after-effects can vary from person to person.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?

The Internal Journal of Legal Medicine has recently issued a research study stating that ketamine can be detected in your hair even after a single dose. Moreover, its effect may persist for a few months. The study also revealed that ketamine was detectable in scalp samples for up to 48 hours following drug administration.
In another study to identify how long does ketamine stay in your system, they collected urine samples of hospitalized children. The children received ketamine as an anesthetic. It was noted that it was detected up to 11 days after dosage, while its metabolites remained for 14 days. It’s important to note that factors such as age, body mass, metabolic rate, and drug dosage, influence the duration.


Understanding how long does ketamine stay in your system is important for various reasons. It helps patients to analyze the effect of Ketamine and factors enhancing its visibility in different samples. This knowledge can be crucial for drug screening purposes, medical treatment planning, or legal situations.

Dosage, metabolism, and other factors also play a huge role in the ketamine duration in the system. Therefore, it is essential to reach out to a healthcare professional for accurate information regarding ketamine consumption. Consult addiction specialist at Saad MD to receive reliable and tailored advice, promoting your overall well-being and safety.