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What Is a Ketamine Hole (K-Hole)?

A k-hole is generally reported as feeling like one exists outside their body, often like one is watching themselves, as the user vividly hallucinates experiences that aren’t happening.[1] Time and reality can seem to distort in a K-hole. The specifics of the experience often vary greatly among reports users give. 

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What Does a K-Hole Feel Like?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, a type of sedative that causes dissociation, which is the feeling that one has become detached from their own body and exists outside of that body.[2] A k-hole is the term often used to describe the sensation one can feel while on ketamine, where they so thoroughly disassociate that they may feel completely numb and unable to control their own body. 

In a ketamine hole, the individual may go limp and unresponsive. In this state, they will often experience vivid hallucinations that are often anecdotally described as feeling so real it’s as if they’re experiencing a different reality. 

Different Experiences for Different People

“Falling down a k-hole” is often a different type of experience from individual to individual. For some people, it can be a deeply disorienting, panicked experience that is extremely frightening. For others, it can be pleasant despite feeling strange.[1] Some people describe their K-hole experiences as deeply life-changing, causing them to experience insights into themselves or their existence that they feel they wouldn’t have achieved otherwise.[3]

Note that the experience of falling down a K-hole can cause a person to lose their sense of time, meaning these experiences can seem to last much longer than they do. This is important, as it means frightening or otherwise disturbing experiences may cause a person to feel trapped in their body, as they experience vivid hallucinations they don’t want to be experiencing for what might feel like hours.

The Dangers Associated With a K-Hole

These are some of the dangers associated with ketamine use:[4-6]

Sexual Assault & Inability to Seek Help

One of the more distressing elements of falling into a K-hole is that it generally completely immobilizes an individual, making them unable to seek help even if they need it. This is one reason that the drug is often used to facilitate sexual assault. If a person falls or injures themselves, or feels trapped in frightening hallucinations, they have no real way of seeking help. They can only wait for the effects of the ketamine to wear off enough that they can begin to move.

Psychosis Symptoms

Some people taking ketamine have reported developing ongoing psychosis symptoms. People sometimes report struggling to come out of the dissociative state a K-hole causes, making them feel continually disconnected from reality even once the effects of the drug wear off.


A high dose or overdose of ketamine can impact the body in significant ways. High doses of ketamine are associated with the following:[6]

  • An increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Coordination loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Short-term memory loss

Studies into the specific dangers of ketamine use are limited, and there are many unknowns about the drug, despite growing acceptance it may have some therapeutic uses we don’t fully understand. High doses do have the potential to be fatal, with a dose of 678 mg found to be likely lethal for humans weighing 70 kilograms (about 154 pounds) or under.[6,7] 

How Long Does a K-Hole Last?

Exactly how long the effects of ketamine last isn’t well studied, but it will at least partially depend on the dose taken. While the actual K-hole experience may only last 20 to 50 minutes, the user may feel like it lasts hours. 

Long-Term Issues From Ketamine Use

The reality of ketamine use is that it isn’t well studied, though long-term brain changes have been documented.[8] Even if some K-hole experiences are positive and life-changing, there isn’t enough medical research to know what safe use might look like, and this is putting aside that K-hole experiences aren’t universally positive. Some are very frightening, with scary hallucinations occurring as a person feels trapped inside their own body.

Addressing Ketamine Misuse & Abuse

If you’ve been misusing ketamine, it’s a sign that you need ketamine addiction treatment. Ask yourself if you see any signs and symptoms of addiction. If you do, reach out for help today. 

With comprehensive addiction treatment, you can leave ketamine abuse behind you and begin to build a healthier life in recovery. Take the first step today.

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. Journey through the K-hole: Phenomenological aspects of ketamine use. Muetzelfeldt L, Kamboj SK, Rees H, Taylor J, Morgan CJA, Curran HV. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2008;95(3):219-229.
  2. The role of dissociation in ketamine’s antidepressant effects. Ballard ED, Zarate CA. Nature Communications. 2020;11(1).
  3. We asked people about the k-holes that changed their lives. VICE. Published November 5, 2017. Accessed November 23, 2023.
  4. Violence against women and drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA): A review of the main drugs. Costa YR de S, Lavorato SN, Baldin JJCM de C. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 2020;74:102020.
  5. Association of ketamine with psychiatric symptoms and implications for its therapeutic use and for understanding schizophrenia. Beck K, Hindley G, Borgan F, et al. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(5):e204693.
  6. Ketamine toxicity. Orhurhu VJ, Claus LE, Cohen SP. StatPearls. Published 2020. Accessed November 23, 2023.
  7. Trapped in the “k-hole.” Schifano F, Corkery J, Oyefeso A, Tonia T, Ghodse AH. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2008;28(1):114-116.
  8. Brain changes associated with long-term ketamine abuse, a systematic review. Strous JFM, Weeland CJ, van der Draai FA, et al. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 2022;16.
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