addiction treatment

Infusing Ketamine for Addiction

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Using ketamine for addiction is quite a new but potentially effective method of treating drug abuse. Recent studies prove that ketamine infusion therapy, in addition to therapy on its own, can assist in lowering the chances of relapsing into addiction. In a recent study, 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 for ketamine addiction treatment.

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What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is used as an anesthetic by medical practitioners. As a stimulant drug, it is also often taken illegally, giving users a ‘high’. It contains some dissociative (or hallucinogenic) properties, which makes it beneficial for patients or animals in pain during a procedure. It creates a distortion of reality and a disconnected feeling for drug abusers.

Like all other stimulant abuse, the ‘high’ euphoric feeling is addictive, causing addicts to repeat their misuse. The effects of ketamine in particular are short,  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 to feel the short-lived positive feelings. This is commonly known as dependence or ketamine addiction.

Eventually, this can lead to an overdose, causing slow, difficult breathing.

Avenues Recovery explains the effectiveness of infusing ketamine for addiction

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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
  • Seizures
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inability to move
  • Dizziness
  • Amnesia
  • Confusion
  • Decreased coordination
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness

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What Is Ketamine Addiction Treatment?

Ketamine therapy for addiction is a treatment that uses very low doses of ketamine to manage and help with multiple mental health conditions. The conditions include substance use disorders, anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How to Use Ketamine 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 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 are no noted cases of ketamine addiction as a result of ketamine infusion for addiction.

man undergoing iv drip infusion

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Who is not Eligible for Ketamine Therapy for Drug Addiction?

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.

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Ketamine for Addiction - When Is It Effective?

Ketamine therapy can be used to treat several different addictions. Seven studies were completed - two explored the use of ketamine therapy for alcoholism, two focused on cocaine use disorder, and three on opioid use disorder. Another study assessed 'its safety as a research tool.' 

Studies on its effectiveness in treating cocaine use disorder found that it decreased cocaine use and cravings in addicts. In addition, post-infusion, cocaine abusers were more motivated to quit cocaine altogether. There was also a significant reduction in the frequency and the amount of cocaine used during the follow-up period.

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More Promising Results

The results of studies that focused on opioid use disorder were similarly promising. After the ketamine infusions, all users abstained from using heroin (within 24 months) and cravings were 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. As well, 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 treatment studies of ketamine for alcohol addiction and ketamine for opiate addiction, as well as cocaine and cannabis, and the results are yet to be released.

So, when our clients at Avenues Recovery want to know if ketamine does help with addiction recovery, we answer that there is reason to believe that it does, as long as one is mindful of the risks.

Consider Using Ketamine for Your Addiction Treatment

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, contact Avenues Recovery to check out your options. Whether you need ketamine for addiction recovery, or any other support, you may find the right treatment option for you, and turn your life around forever.

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