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Ketamine Therapy for the Treatment of Alcoholism

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Ketamine Therapy and Alcoholism

Ketamine works by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called glutamate in the brain. This leads to a decrease in activity in the brain’s default mode network, which is believed to be overactive in people with depression and anxiety.

Navigation: US Clinic Offers Ketamine Therapy to Treat Alcoholism, Ketamine Therapy for the Treatment of Alcoholism: How Does it Work?, Ketamine Treatment for Psychological Therapy, Is Ketamine Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Treatment Safe?, Can Ketamine Therapy Treat Severe Alcohol Use Disorder Effectively?, The Dangers of Ketamine Misuse, What is Ketamine Addiction?, How is Alcoholism Treated?, Rehab is Your Best Chance


Half a century ago, regulators approved ketamine for use as an anesthetic. However, it has since gained a bad reputation for being an illegal party drug.

Ketamine is a medication that was first developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic for use in surgery. It is a dissociative anesthetic, which means that it produces a feeling of detachment from one’s body and surroundings.

Ketamine works by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called glutamate in the brain. This leads to a decrease in activity in the brain’s default mode network, which is believed to be overactive in people with depression and anxiety. The effects of ketamine can last for several hours, but the exact duration can vary depending on the dose and method of administration.

In recent years, ketamine has been used off-label to treat depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders.

Even more recently, researchers have been exploring the potential of ketamine treatment for the treatment of alcohol use disorders. This is potentially good news for alcohol dependent patients, as alcoholism is one of the most common types of substance use disorders.

It affects millions of people in the US. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2020, an estimated 14.5 million people aged 12 or older in the United States had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year. This represents approximately 5.3% of the population aged 12 or older.

Unfortunately, ketamine still has potential for abuse. If taken recreationally, it can cause a number of side effects, including hallucinations, dissociation, and nausea. It should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional in a controlled setting.

This is why we need to talk more about the role ketamine plays in the treatment of substance use disorder, particularly alcohol addiction or alcoholism. Let’s take a closer look.


US Clinic Offers Ketamine Therapy to Treat Alcoholism

A US clinic called Nushama is now offering a form of alcohol addiction treatment that makes use of ketamine and psychological therapy. The psychedelics industry is a fast-growing one, and it is slowly dipping its toes into addiction treatment.

The New York-based wellness clinic is using ketamine to treat people with alcohol use disorder. Nushama specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders using psychedelic therapies.

More recently, they licensed the ketamine and psychological therapy from Awakn Life Sciences, which is a biotech based in the UK that is creating psychedelic-assisted treatments for various types of addictions including binge eating, gambling, and compulsive sexual behavior.

The combined ketamine and psychotherapy program currently costs around $10,000 for each person and lasts four weeks. Plus, it is not yet covered by insurers in the US due to the fact that regulators have not approved ketamine for alcohol use disorder treatment.

The combination therapy is still being prescribed on an “off-label” basis by Nushama’s doctors.


Ketamine Therapy for the Treatment of Alcoholism: How Does it Work?

Awakn chief executive Anthony Tennyson said that there is growing evidence that shows the effectiveness of ketamine treatment for preventing alcohol relapse, reducing alcohol consumption, and tackling addictive disorders. Tennyson said that these treatments need to be delivered by trained medical professionals in order to be effective.

Studies show that ketamine treatment is especially useful when combined with motivational enhancement therapy and other forms of psychotherapy. A single ketamine infusion, when paired with motivational enhancement therapy, can significantly increase the rate of abstinence in those who are struggling with alcohol dependence. The treatment can lower the likelihood of heavy drinking while also increasing the time before relapse.

Out of the people who participated in the study who were available for the 6-month follow-up, an impressive 75% in the ketamine group reported abstinence. Only 27% of those who received midazolam during the same study reported abstinence. This means a significant percentage of those who were given ketamine and went through therapy stayed completely sober.

For this reason, Awakn Life Sciences has started signing licensing deals with third-party clinics all over Europe and North America, allowing more clinics to use the therapy.

“It’s not a case of come in, chat to a doctor for 15 minutes, take a prescription and go home,” Tennyson said. “We are using psychedelic drugs, ketamine, to disrupt operations within [the brain] to a certain degree. And during this disruption we are coming in with therapy to enable people to recalibrate and get the cognitive part of the brain back in control.”

A clinical trial led last year by the University of Exeter found that people who received a low dose of ketamine followed by psychotherapy were able to stay away from alcohol longer. The participants of the study were 2.5 times more likely to remain abstinent by the end of the trial compared to those who were in the placebo groups. These results were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to researchers, participants described having experiences that helped them gain a new perspective after taking ketamine. This may be helpful in the field of psychotherapy because it puts the patient in a state where they feel like they are having an out of body experience. This may allow them to take a step back and really consider the feelings they are going through.

This suggests that ketamine combined with psychological therapy is a good way to fight alcohol use disorder.

Professor Celia Morgan, principal investigator for the trial at the University of Exeter said: “We use the drug as a way for people to access the therapy. It is potentially helpful for people who get stuck in a rut and become overwhelmed by their own problems.”

Prior concerns about ketamine causing problems in the liver proved to be a non-issue as the trial participants were able to tolerate the substance well. And because the participants drank less alcohol, their liver function even improved.

While addiction experts have mostly welcomed the results of these studies, they still warn about the importance of scrutinizing the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment, as many of these substances can have significant side effects. In some cases, they can even be dangerous, especially if taken without medical supervision.

If used responsibly, this may be a step in the right direction in the fight against drug abuse and alcoholism.

Ketamine Treatment for Psychological Therapy

The Medical Research Council in the UK previously supported a study on ketamine and its use for the treatment of certain mental health disorders. Ketamine showed promising results in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The use of ketamine for depression and other mental health conditions is typically done through intravenous infusion or nasal spray. Ketamine works by increasing levels of a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which is believed to help repair the damaged neural connections that are often seen in depression and other mental health conditions.

While ketamine has shown promise in treating these mental health disorders, it is important to note that it is not yet approved by the FDA for these uses. Additionally, ketamine has some potential side effects, including dissociation, elevated blood pressure, and in rare cases, addiction.

Ketamine is an emerging treatment that may offer benefits for those who have not responded to traditional treatments. But right now, more studies still need to be conducted to test its effectiveness and potential risks.

As with any medication, it is important to talk to a qualified healthcare provider to determine whether ketamine is appropriate for your individual needs.

Is Ketamine Therapy for Alcohol Addiction Treatment Safe?

Ketamine therapy is not currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcohol addiction. While there is some preliminary research suggesting that ketamine may have potential for treating addiction, more studies are needed to determine its safety and effectiveness for this purpose.

Ketamine is generally considered safe when administered under the supervision of a trained medical professional, but like any medication, it can have side effects and risks.

Possible side effects of ketamine use include nausea, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use of ketamine can also lead to dependence and addiction.

If you are considering ketamine therapy for alcohol addiction treatment, it is important to speak with a qualified healthcare provider who can evaluate your individual needs and help determine if ketamine therapy is a safe and appropriate option for you. It is also important to seek out a reputable and experienced provider who can administer the treatment safely and effectively.

Can Ketamine Therapy Treat Severe Alcohol Use Disorder Effectively?

Ketamine is showing promise when it comes to preventing relapse and encouraging abstinence in those who have alcohol use disorder. However, when it comes to the treatment of severe alcohol use disorder, its effectiveness has not yet been tested.

This dissociative anesthetic may help in the treatment of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, which often co-occur with substance use disorders. In this regard, ketamine therapy may be able to contribute to the person’s recovery.

There is also some evidence that ketamine may help reduce cravings and improve mood in people with alcoholism, with the psychedelic drug offering patients a new perspective and a chance to step back from their situation.

However, ketamine therapy for alcohol use disorder is still considered an experimental treatment, and it should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

The long-term effects and potential risks of ketamine therapy are still not well understood, so you need to carefully weigh its potential benefits against the potential risks before undergoing this type of treatment.

Finally, we should note that despite its apparent benefits, ketamine is not supposed to be used as a standalone treatment for alcoholism. It should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes therapy, medication, and other forms of support.

The Dangers of Ketamine Misuse

Although we know that ketamine can be useful when administered by a medical professional, we still need to take note of the potential dangers of ketamine misuse because this is still a powerful and dangerous drug if it is not used properly or if it is abused.

When taken in higher doses or in a recreational context, ketamine can cause a range of harmful effects, including: disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, delusions, loss of coordination and motor control, increased heart rate and blood pressure, kidney problems, bladder problems, and respiratory depression.

Additionally, repeated or chronic use of ketamine can lead to the development of psychological dependence and addiction.

Ketamine is a controlled substance, and its use should always be under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. Misuse or abuse of ketamine can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

What is Ketamine Addiction?

Ketamine addiction refers to the compulsive use of the drug ketamine. Just like other types of addiction, it is characterized by a pattern of behavior in which the individual continues to use the drug despite experiencing negative consequences.

An addicted person will keep taking ketamine even when they are already dealing with adverse health effects, legal issues, and financial problems. Addiction affects a person’s mind and body. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just affect the addicted individual. Addiction tends to affect the people around them as well, causing problems with their relationships.

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that can induce hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and other altered states of consciousness. Some people may abuse it in order to get high or experience hallucinations.

Over time, individuals who abuse ketamine may develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring increasingly larger doses to achieve the desired effects. This can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut back on use.

 If you think someone you love may be struggling with a ketamine addiction, here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Difficulty controlling or limiting ketamine use

Spending significant amounts of time and money on acquiring and using ketamine

Neglecting responsibilities or social relationships in favor of using ketamine

Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut back on use

Treatment for ketamine addiction may involve a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. The goal of treatment is to help individuals overcome their addiction, manage withdrawal symptoms, and develop strategies to avoid relapse.

How is Alcoholism Treated?

Ketamine therapy is still being studied. But for now, there are plenty of proven methods that are used for the treatment of alcoholism. Here are some examples:

Medication-Assisted Treatment: This involves the use of medication to help manage the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, reduce cravings, and discourage drinking.

Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their drinking.

Support Groups: Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and SMART Recovery provide peer support and encouragement to individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Inpatient Treatment: Individuals with severe alcoholism may benefit from inpatient treatment in a hospital or residential setting, which provides round-the-clock medical and emotional support.

Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment programs offer counseling, therapy, and support to individuals who can continue living at home while receiving treatment.

Alcoholism is a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical intervention and ongoing support. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, look for a rehab near you immediately. That way, you can learn more about your treatment options and the best fit for you or your loved one’s specific condition. Because he most effective treatment plan for alcoholism varies from person to person, the best treatment programs offer personalized care. Get started on your journey to long-lasting sobriety today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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