Ketamine Infusion for Addiction
Ketamine for addiction is quite a new but potentially effective method of treating drug abuse. Recent studies show that ketamine infusion therapy, in addition to therapy on its own, can assist in lowering the chances of relapsing into addiction. People with cocaine addictions received a ketamine infusion through an IV for 5 days, alongside mindfulness relapse prevention therapy (for 5 weeks) in a controlled hospital setting, and the conclusion showed promising results.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is used as an aesthetic by medical practitioners . It is also often used illegally like any other stimulant drug, since it can cause a ‘high’ feeling. It contains some dissociative (or hallucinogenic) properties, which makes it beneficial for patients or animals in pain during a procedure, but causes distortion from reality and a disconnected feeling for drug abusers.
Like all other stimulant abuse, the ‘high’ euphoric feeling is addictive, causing addicts to repeat the misuse. The effects of ketamine in particular are short and so people are likely to engage in a binge cycle, where they repeatedly administer the drug every time the effects begin to wear off. Over time, the body develops tolerance to the drug due to prolonged misuse, necessitating a higher dosage of the drug in order to feel the short-lived positive feelings. This is also known as dependance or addiction.
Eventually, this can lead to an overdose, characterized by slow, difficult breathing.
What are the Side Effects of Ketamine Abuse?
Ketamine is used illegally by snorting, smoking, injecting into the body or mixing into drinks. The immediate effects are similar to that of every stimulant: the heart rate speeds up and the blood pressure goes down.
In addition to the euphoric feeling, a lower amount of ketamine drug can cause a certain numbness and some visual hallucinations. A higher dose can cause strong hallucinations, detachment from reality (out-of-body experience), short-term memory loss, and motionlessness.
Prolonged misuse of ketamine can lead to some of the following side-effects:
- Double vision
- Elevated blood pressure
- Decreased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to move
- Decreased coordination
Ketamine Infusion for Addiction
Being that sudden ketamine ingestion can be dangerous, when ketamine is used to treat addiction, a small amount is given via IV, over a period of 3-4 hours. It is usually given 2-3 times a week for a month. Many patients have had no need for ketamine therapy after that one month, whereas others can upkeep the positive effects for many months before needing another round of infusions. So far, there have been no noted case of ketamine addiction as a result of ketamine treatment for addiction.
Who is not Eligible for Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Although Ketamine therapy for addiction has proven to be effective, not everyone is a suitable candidate. Addicts who are pregnant; or who suffer from hypertension, ketamine allergy, cardiovascular disease, or brain swelling may all experience harmful side-effects, making it impossible for them to receive this treatment.
When is Ketamine Therapy for Addiction Effective?
Ketamine therapy can be used to treat several different addictions. Seven studies were completed - two explored the use of ketamine therapy for alcohol use disorder, two focused on cocaine use disorder and three on opioid use disorder.   
The studies on its effectiveness to assist in treating cocaine use disorder found that it decreased the cocaine use and reduced cocaine cravings in the addicts. In addition, post-infusion, cocaine abusers were more motivated to quit cocaine altogether. There was also a significant reduction in frequency and amount of cocaine used during the follow-up period.
The results of the studies that focused on opioid use disorder were similarly promising. After the ketamine infusions, all users abstained from using heroin (within 24 months) and the craving was also notably reduced. 50% of the people who received multiple ketamine infusions abstained completely from heroin misuse a year later, in comparison to 22% for the group who received only one ketamine treatment. It was also noticed that the group who received multiple treatments, had significantly reduced cravings, more than the other group who received just one treatment.
There are currently six ongoing studies of ketamine treatment for addiction of alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and opioid and the results are yet to be released.
Many people suffering from a drug use disorder have a very difficult time quitting. Relapse is unfortunately extremely common and it is so easy to give up, even though the stakes of drug abuse are so high. Never give up! If you are repeatedly failing, reach out to a reputable drug rehabilitation facility like Avenues Recovery to check out your options. You may just find the right treatment option for you, and turn your life around forever.
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