Ketamine is a drug that is used traditionally used as a painkiller within medicine. There is an unfair stigma attached to ketamine that it is mainly used as a horse tranquilliser and while this is correct, it is also used commonly in humans. It is also a popular recreational drug.
Recently, however, there has been an idea that the drug may turn out to be a useful treatment for depression.
The New Yorker asked only a few months ago whether we are ready for ketamine to go mainstream? Before this occurs, we first need to understand how we reached this stage and what the research shows us.
What is ketamine?
Ketamine was created in 1962 when scientists were looking for a safer anaesthetic that had fewer hallucinogenic effects.
People who have been given it may find that they enter a trance like state as well as the additional pain relief properties.
Research around Ketamine
There are a variety of mental health conditions that it is being used to treat.
These include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. In the U.S. the FDA has approved the drug as a medication for depression via a nasal spray.
Numerous clinics have begun to offer treatment in both the United States and the UK.
Treatment generally lasts for approximately six weeks with further sessions found to have little benefit.
Unfortunately, treatment is not currently available on the NHS, which does mean that many are unable to access treatment due to the cost.
What are the dangers?
There are many dangers associated with consistent use of ketamine. Although incidences of ketamine dependence remain largely unknown, there are examples of people becoming dependent after regular use. Experiments on animals have also confirmed dependent traits.
Large consumption of ketamine may result in urinary toxicity with 20-30% of frequent users having bladder complaints. Liver issues are also possible with approximately 10% of high dose ketamine users seeing liver injury.
One of the most common results of using the drug recreational is often referred to as a “k-hole”. A k-hole occurs when a person has taken a high dose of ketamine and experiences intense feelings of disassociation. This in turn can affect a person’s ability to speak or move easily. In recreational circumstances in a night-life setting, this can be troublesome.