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Ketamine: Effects, Medical Uses, Risks

why do people take ketamine

By Heidi Moawad, MDHeidi Moawad is a neurologist and expert in the field of brain health and neurological disorders. Dr. Moawad regularly writes and edits health and career content for medical books and publications. At very high doses, users may experience unwanted side effects such as paranoia, increased blood pressure, and unconsciousness. In addition to its medical use, ketamine has also been a drug of abuse. Commonly known as “Special K,” the drug can be injected or used in its powder form that is snorted, smoked, or mixed into drinks.

Standard antidepressants generally take several weeks to provide relief. But the drug’s potential as a treatment for depression and antidote to suicidal thoughts has drawn researchers’ attention. They’ve studied and administered it in controlled, clinical settings to help with treatment-resistant depression and other conditions.

And if you think that you may have unwillingly received this drug, it’s important that you promptly seek medical attention. If you are having surgery, you might receive does ketamine cause cardiac arrest ketamine as one of your anesthetic medications. As you wake up from your surgery, the effects of ketamine are among the reasons why you won’t remember the procedure.

As a drug of abuse

While ketamine is widely deemed safe in medical settings, this may not be the case when you use it recreationally. “If they take big doses on a frequent basis, it can permanently damage people’s bladders and hurt people’s brains,”  Levine said. However, it’s still illegal to possess or sell ketamine outside of medical settings.

  1. Ketamine has traditionally been used as an anesthetic for medical procedures, first in veterinary clinics and then in people after the FDA approved it for human use in 1970.
  2. Ketamine has a rapid action that diminishes sensation, prevents pain, induces sleep, and inhibits memory.
  3. The initial IV dose of Ketalar ranges from 1 milligram (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight to 4.5 mg per kg of body weight.
  4. Others find that their hearing becomes more acute, which could explain why my friend’s dog freaked me out so much.
  5. The nerve cells need glutamate receptors – think of them like catcher’s mitts for glutamate – in order to join in this communication.

It is typically used for anesthesia induction before other anesthetic drugs are administered. Ketamine can be administered during abdominal operations, orthopedic procedures, surgical ciprofloxacin oral route side effects burn treatment, some dental procedures, and many other types of surgery. This medication is used for different types of anesthesia, including general anesthesia and spinal anesthesia.

Mixing ketamine with other drugs

Its rapid delivery system means depression symptoms can ease within several hours. Esketamine is administered as a squirt in each nostril, followed by a two-hour monitoring period. Standard dosing involves taking the medication twice a week for about four weeks, then switching to once a week for another four weeks and then tapering off over time. Research has shown that esketamine can significantly reduce depression symptoms — relief that can last weeks after treatment ends. Typically, the only ketamine-derived treatment for depression that insurance will cover is the FDA-approved nasal spray called esketamine (Spravato).

why do people take ketamine

While the drug is largely eliminated from the body within 14 to 18 hours after the last dose, it can also have longer-term effects. People who have used this drug report harsh flashbacks even weeks after the drug has been cleared from the body. This drug has been linked to conditions like depression, hysteria, memory loss, and high blood pressure in regular users. Ketamine is a compound with many potential benefits for the treatment of mental disorders as well as many risks, making it a “hot topic” in the field of psychiatry. Ketamine was first used in medical procedures for anesthesia in the 1960s. It has also been implicated for the treatment of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia, treatment of depression, and treatment of addiction—although ketamine itself is a commonly misused drug.

What is ketamine used for in mental health care?

“When enough stories like that started to pile up, doctors said, ‘Maybe there’s something here,’ ” says Stewart, an emergency physician and founder of Insight Ketamine in Santa Fe, NM. Like the drug itself, Stewart got his start in combat medicine during the Vietnam War. Ketamine also causes individuals to have no memory of events that happen while they are under its influence.

Ketamine is also used for anesthesia in a range of veterinary procedures, such as for dogs, cats, and other animals. Ketamine is among the faster-acting and shorter-duration anesthetics. Most surgeries also require anesthetics that reduce muscle tone and movement. Ketamine is used as an anesthetic in surgery for adults and children. It is used in major and minor surgeries and for planned and emergency procedures.

As with any substance, getting ketamine on the street carries the risk that it’ll be cut with other substances. Powder ketamine can be cut with really any powdery substance, sometimes including chalk, baking soda, coffee creamer, and gypsum dust (a material used in building construction), said Giordano. Sometimes, what’s marketed as ketamine is actually a substance called methoxetamine, or MXE, an experimental drug used for scientific research, said Giordano. Like ketamine, MXE affects the brain’s NMDA receptors, though some say it’s a lighter high, not unlike esketamine.

Using ketamine without a prescription is illegal, and street ketamine may be mixed with other substances that can increase your risk of a serious reaction. Recreational ketamine may be used alone or mixed with other illegal substances. Because of this, it’s unclear if ketamine alone or a combination of other factors contributed to cognitive and behavioral 4 ways to pass a drug test side effects in studies. The DEA says higher doses of recreational ketamine can cause serious reactions. It is classified as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance in the United States and is illegal without a prescription. According to a 2014 review, ketamine for medical purposes is only used under the direct supervision of a trained health professional.

It is critically important that an individual who engages in inappropriate use of ketamine get professional counseling and treatment. The Controlled Substance Act classifies ketamine as a Schedule III non-narcotic drug. Because of its pain-relieving and mental effects, it can cause dependence, the need to take higher doses to get the same effect, and addiction. People who use it claim that a ketamine trip is superior to a PCP or LSD trip because it produces shorter-term hallucinations that last 30 minutes to an hour instead of several hours. Refractory status epilepticus (RSE) is a form of status epilepticus that does not respond to standard antiseizure drugs. Keep reading to learn more about the uses, side effects, and risks of ketamine, as well as its interactions with alcohol and other drugs.

Aside from its medical use as an anesthetic, ketamine is prescribed by some healthcare providers as an alternative treatment for severe depression. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved ketamine as a treatment for any psychiatric disorder. The only FDA-approved option is Spravato, a nasal spray made from a derivative of ketamine, which is used for treatment-resistant depression in adults. A lot of new research is currently being done on the various effects of ketamine. This includes benefits for mental health conditions such as treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation.

My interest in exploring ketamine therapy as a practitioner started after learning about the success other practitioners were experiencing with patients suffering from trauma. Through my research, I found that ketamine therapy in connection with psychotherapy provided patients with a safe psychedelic experience under the care of a trained practitioner. Ketamine, a drug available in intravenous (IV) and nasal spray (esketamine) forms, is being actively studied for TRD treatment. Both ketamine and esketamine are given in a doctor’s office or a clinic, and each is typically used alongside another antidepressant.