Addiction in America continues to grow and impacts millions of lives. Whether the substance use disorder is due to alcohol, cocaine, opioids, or any other illicit drug, the impacts are the same. Relationships, marriages, friendships, and careers are often destroyed, and addiction can threaten one’s physical health and safety. According to Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of the CATG Initiative, “23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment.” In addition, our society has been slow to view substance use disorder as a chronic but treatable illness.
The Science Behind Substance Use Disorders And Why Ketamine Infusions Can Be Effective
Substance use disorders share similar stress-related triggers to PTSD and OCD. Many disease models suggest similar dysfunctions in the N-methyl-D- aspartate and glutaminergic systems as being behind the development of this condition. In addition, it appears that addictive disorders share neuroadaptations similar to depressive and anxiety disorders. Experts theorize that ketamine may also affect addictive disorders as quickly and effectively as depressive disorders, PTSD, and anxiety because of these similarities.
Ketamine Infusions Combined With Substance Abuse Counseling Proves Promising
Psychedelic therapy with subanesthetic ketamine infusions has shown promise in treating substance abuse disorder, particularly when combined with intensive rehabilitation and substance abuse counseling. However, higher dose IV ketamine infusions may also prove effective on their own. It appears the success of ketamine therapy may be related to the psychoactive effects of higher dosages. These increased doses bring about a profoundly spiritual and transformational experience that allows the patient to reexamine his current life path, leading to creating new values, goals, and strategies more conducive to a life of sobriety. When used in a supervised setting to treat substance use disorders, there is no evidence that ketamine infusions are associated with future ketamine abuse, dependence, or the triggering of other drug cravings during or after the completion of therapy.
The Latest Medical Evidence
In fact, two clinical trials — one looking at cocaine addiction and the other at alcohol dependency — showed that people who were prescribed ketamine, alongside therapy, had a better outcome than those who had therapy without ketamine treatment. The people who had cocaine addictions got ketamine through an IV for five days, in addition to 5 weeks of mindfulness relapse prevention therapy. The people dependent on alcohol got ketamine through an IV during the second week of a 5-week motivational enhancement therapy session. In both studies, the researchers concluded that ketamine lowered the chances of restarting or relapsing into addiction.
While research on how ketamine affects addiction continues to be conducted, evidence shows it may change how your brain deals with cravings, motivation to quit a drug, and controlling behavioral reactions. Ketamine treatment might also make behavioral therapy more effective, a big part of overcoming addiction. However, it must be stressed that for ketamine to be helpful in addiction treatment, it must be used under the close care of medical professionals.