Ketamine has made quite a few headlines as of late. Originally introduced as an emergency room and battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s, ketamine has recently been heralded by emergency physicians and chronic pain specialists for its ability to treat chronic pain, and by mental healthcare practitioners for its ability to change the lives of patients suffering from even the most severe, treatment-resistant cases of depression.
Ketamine has been used to treat acute and chronic pain for more than 20 years now, but the treatment of depression and psychiatric disorders is a more au courant development, with ketamine clinics starting to open their doors in 2012. Since then the response has been tremendous, and the research even more so. Ketamine effectively improves depressive symptoms in 70% of patients, and researchers are making progress in elucidating the anti depressive mechanism, making it possible for pharmaceutical companies to start developing a similarly effective antidepressant, minus the undesirable side effects.
Vitalitas Denver has been providing ketamine infusions for the treatment of chronic pain and depression for several years now. We’ve seen the life changing – and, oftentimes, life saving – effects of these infusions. To say that it’s an exciting time for ketamine would be an understatement. That being said, there is a negative stigma associated with ketamine, largely due to its reputation as club drug. We’ve tried to combat that stigma by sharing ketamine success stories, by acting as an expedient for news, research, and all things ketamine. Still, though, despite the positive findings of one research study after another, people still respond with mis- or uninformed negativity. That’s a horse tranquilizer, don’t try it! This is just another ridiculous way for Big Pharma to turn pain into profit! You’ll end up addicted!
We want to set the record straight and discuss some of these ketamine myths, as they pertain to the treatment of chronic pain and psychiatric disorders.
MYTH #1: KETAMINE IS A HORSE TRANQUILIZER AND IS NOT SAFE FOR HUMAN USE
Long before ketamine made its way into veterinary medicine, it was created for and tested on humans. Ketamine, in fact, is listed on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, as one of the most effective, safe and affordable medications available.
MYTH #2: USING KETAMINE FOR CHRONIC PAIN OR DEPRESSION IS JUST A PLOY FOR BIG PHARMA TO MAKE A PROFIT
Actually, the opposite is true. Ketamine has been around for almost 50 years – its patent expired long ago, rendering it financially inutile to Big Pharma. This is actually one of the major hurdles in getting ketamine FDA approved as a treatment for depression. It is already FDA approved for the treatment of chronic pain & emergency pain, and also as an anesthetic. but since there is no hope for big profit, Big Pharma will not fund the studies needed to get ketamine approved as an antidepressant.
MYTH #3: KETAMINE IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE
This is false. Ketamine is not a physically addictive drug like opiates or benzodiazepines. When abused for recreation it can eventually become psychologically addicting. When used as a treatment for chronic pain or depression, ketamine is administered in a much lower dose than when used recreationally. Ketamine infusions are also administered in a supervised setting, under very close supervision by a highly trained physician or nurse. To minimize the risk of psychological addiction even more so, oral or sublingual ketamine is only prescribed in certain situations where the risk of abuse is minute.
MYTH #4: KETAMINE IS JUST ANOTHER SUPPOSED “BREAKTHROUGH” THAT WILL NEVER PAN OUT
To debunk this myth, all one has to do is reference the research. Ketamine has not only shown definitive efficacy as a treatment for chronic pain and depression, but has also shown great promise as a “vaccine” to protect first-responders and military personnel against PTSD, and to help cocaine addicts and alcoholics achieve sobriety. A National Institute of Health psychiatrist once said, “There is a ketamine tsunami coming, whether psychiatrists are ready for it or not. I hope we don’t end up on the wrong side of history on this.” Ketamine has already changed the lives of thousands of Americans, and will continue to do so for decades to come.
These are some of the more common myths about using ketamine as a treatment for chronic pain, depression and other psychiatric disorders, though there is still opposition beyond the scope of what is outlined above. The bottom line is that ketamine can change lives. It can eliminate pain enough for someone to go out and enjoy a simple dinner at a nice restaurant, or a walk through the park. It can lift the rain cloud of depression and give a person the strength they need to make it through another day, and another, and another. Ketamine is a blessing for many people, and we hope that by sharing accurate information we can change the stigma and open more people’s minds to this revolutionary pain and depression treatment.
If you have questions about how ketamine works, or are curious as to whether it could help you or a loved one, please contact us via the brief form below. We are happy to connect you with one of our anesthesiologists.