Ketamine: Miracle or Party Drug?

I have read a varying articles revolving around the controversial benefits and detriments of the drug Ketamine. Though I personally have no experience with the drug itself, I thought I would take the time to present both sides of the argument and let you decide.

What is Ketamine?

 

Ketamine, categorized as a “dissociative anesthetic,” is used in powdered or liquid form as an anesthetic, usually on animals. It can be injected, consumed in drinks, snorted, or added to joints or cigarettes. Ketamine was placed on the list of controlled substances in the US in 1999. Despite its potential for abuse as a recreational drug, Ketamine has also proved to display medical benefits for those suffering from depression or chronic pain.

Possibilities as a “Miracle” Drug

 

Over 120 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression, with many more undiagnosed. Recently, there has been groundbreaking treatment for those afflicted involving the use of ketamine infusions. Medical-grade ketamine works on the body’s glutamate receptors, much like the way alcohol works to make a person ‘feel good’.

The country at the forefront of this breakthrough is Australia and leading the research is Professor Colleen Loo. Loo refers to ketamine research as a ‘quiet revolution’, urging Australian and New Zealand medical committees to endorse the treatment and adopt it as common practice. This isn’t some backwater idea, however—the American Psychiatric Association has also been vocal with their excitement about ketamine.

Ketamine-infusion therapy has also been adopted as a painkiller here in the US, helping those with chronic pain where even opiates such as Oxycontin and Morphine have been unable to help. Ketamine infusion therapy started in 1999, and over the last ten years has been used in a variety of ways including treatment for everything from fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes long-term, body-wide pain, to eating disorders and even OCD.

Ketamine Addiction

 

But just because it has positive properties if used correctly for medicinal purposes, ketamine is far from a safe drug. When obtained illegally and ingested for long periods of time, ketamine is a highly addictive and detrimental substance.

Short and long-term effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, numbness, depression, amnesia, hallucinations and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Ketamine users can also develop cravings for the drug. At high doses, users experience an effect referred to as “K-Hole,” an “out of body” or “near-death” experience.

Prolonged ketamine abuse is specifically dangerous. Much like any drug, over time ketamine affects the body’s organs including the kidneys and liver. An especially tragic and sad story involving abuse like this is that of Nancy Lee, who after five years of extended ketamine use died of a kidney infection. Her whole story can be read on Vice.

What are your thoughts?

 
Especially for those in recovery, any drug that affects a person from the neck-up is viewed as something they are using to alter their state of mind. But what about drugs that are capable of helping those who are suffering from depression and mental disorders? Does Ketamine fall into this category?

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide with the help of their doctor and sponsor. Though Ketamine for widespread medical use is a long-way off in the United States, do its possible benefits outweigh its potential for abuse?
 

3 Comments
  • Debbie O-A
    Posted at 15:50h, 23 May Reply

    Thank you Derek. In my line of work, I deal with many people in various forms of addiction. We perform pretty extensive drug histories and one of the drugs we ask them about is ketamine. But I never really knew much about it. Thank you for this information!

    • Derek Free
      Posted at 16:48h, 24 May Reply

      I did not know much myself until I wrote this article and did the research! I am happy I could provide this information for you.

  • This Person
    Posted at 08:25h, 21 April Reply

    I healed myself from a “medically induced” opiate addiction. I say medically induced because I have had major spine injuries and surgeries that got me on opiates in the first place. Once I decided that I could no longer handle the effects mentally of the opiates, after about 10 years on them – I asked the Dr to get off of them. He insisted I just needed more.

    I read a lot about Ketamine and I used it back in the 1990s recreationally. So I decided to get some and try to wean myself off opiates. It took me 2 straight weeks, of continual ketamine use, in my own home, and I got off the opiates… Without the withdraws I would have gone through without the Ketamine. I weaned myself off the Ketamine (which I snorted) in about 2 days and I never looked back. No more opiates, no more Ketamine needed. I see it as a miracle drug and I think that further testing should be used. I like to look at Ketamine as a “Reset” button.

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