Ketamine Infusion Therapy: The Promising Alternative to Opioids for Chronic Pain Relief

Chronic pain is a widespread problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Various conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, and nerve damage, can lead to a chronic pain diagnosis. Unfortunately, the treatment of chronic pain can be a challenging and complex process, and traditional pain management approaches such as opioids have many drawbacks. In recent years, ketamine infusion therapy has emerged as a promising alternative to Opioids for the treatment of chronic pain. This blog post will explore why ketamine infusion therapy is better for chronic pain than opioids.

What are opioids, and how do they work?

Opioids are a class of drugs that are used to treat moderate to severe pain. They work by attaching to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing the perception of pain. Opioids are effective painkillers, but they also have significant drawbacks. Opioids can be highly addictive, and prolonged use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. They can also cause a wide range of side effects, including nausea, constipation, drowsiness, and respiratory depression. In addition, long-term use of opioids can damage the liver, kidneys, and other organs.

What is ketamine infusion therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy involves the administration of low doses of ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, into the bloodstream. The therapy has been used for decades as an anesthetic in surgical procedures, but it is only in recent years that its potential as a treatment for chronic pain has been recognized. Ketamine is believed to work by blocking NMDA receptors in the brain, which are involved in the perception of pain.

Advantages of ketamine infusion therapy over opioids for chronic pain

1. Ketamine is not addictive.

One of the most significant advantages of ketamine infusion therapy over opioids is that it is not addictive. While opioids can be highly addictive, ketamine does not produce the same level of dependence. Ketamine does not activate the same reward pathways in the brain as opioids, meaning there is little risk of addiction or abuse.

Ketamine does not cause respiratory depression.

Another significant advantage of ketamine infusion therapy is that it does not cause respiratory depression, a potentially life-threatening side effect of opioids. Respiratory depression occurs when opioids suppress the central nervous system, leading to decreased breathing rate and depth. This can cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop, which can be fatal. Ketamine does not suppress the central nervous system to the same extent as opioids, which means that it does not cause respiratory depression.

2. Ketamine is effective for neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the nerves, is notoriously difficult to treat with opioids. Ketamine, on the other hand, is effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Ketamine blocks NMDA receptors in the brain, which are involved in the transmission of pain signals. This means that ketamine can be an effective treatment for chronic neuropathic pain.

3. Ketamine has fewer side effects than opioids.

Opioids can cause a wide range of side effects, including nausea, constipation, drowsiness, and cognitive impairment. Ketamine, on the other hand, has fewer side effects than opioids. The most common side effects of ketamine infusion therapy are mild and include dissociation, dizziness, and changes in perception. These side effects usually resolve quickly after the infusion is stopped.

4. Ketamine has a rapid onset of action.

Another advantage of ketamine infusion therapy over opioids is its rapid onset of action. Ketamine is administered intravenously, which means that it enters the bloodstream quickly and starts to work within minutes. This makes it an effective option for patients who need rapid pain relief.


In summary, ketamine infusion therapy is a promising alternative to opioids for the treatment of chronic pain. Ketamine is not addictive, does not cause respiratory depression, is effective for neuropathic pain, has fewer side effects than opioids, and has a rapid onset of action. While ketamine infusion therapy is not appropriate for all patients, it should be considered a treatment option for those struggling with chronic pain who have not responded to traditional pain management approaches. As always, patients should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if ketamine infusion therapy is right for them.


To learn more about this innovative treatment, click here or call 505-639-4973


Suicidal Ideation And Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Bringing awareness to this often-stigmatized topic is key to ensuring those who suffer from suicidal ideation can find the right resources to help them. Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide, yet few treatments are available to lessen the risk. As a clinic that specializes in treating Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety, and PTSD, this subject is crucial to us.


What Are The Statistics?

Death by suicide has been on the rise for over a decade. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 703,000 people a year take their life worldwide. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt, and many more have serious thoughts of suicide. Men are more likely to die by suicide 3.6 times more often than women; however, women were 1.4 times more likely to attempt it. Also surprising, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54. Suicide rates amongst men aged 15-24 experienced the most significant increase this past year at a staggering 8%.


Diagnosing Suicidal Ideation

An underlying mental health issue often lays the foundation for suicidal ideation. For others, alcohol or substance abuse can play a role in suicidal thoughts. In some cases, suicidal thinking can be related to an underlying physical health problem, and blood tests or other medical tests may be necessary to diagnose. Recently, research has highlighted how stress is often a precipitating factor overlooked in the literature. In any of the above situations, contacting a health professional is necessary to work through the cause of such thoughts.


What Are The Treatments?

For non-emergency situations, many traditional outpatient treatments are available for those with suicidal ideation. Psychological counseling can help explore the issues that led to suicidal thoughts and help learn skills to manage emotions. Medications are often prescribed, such as antidepressants, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-anxiety medications, etc., to help reduce symptoms. Addiction treatment can also aid those whose suicidal ideation stems from substance abuse.


Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Traditional therapies sometimes don’t provide the relief needed to recover from suicidal thoughts. Prescription medications can take weeks or months to take effect, and the efficacy is variable and often incomplete. As a result, 66% of patients suffer treatment-resistant depression and endure months of trial treatments and adjunctive therapies in hopes of relief.

 Ketamine infusion therapy has proven to be rapidly effective in the remission of depressive symptoms of MDD, TDD, and BD, in some cases providing temporary relief within hours of the first infusion. It is remarkably effective in aborting suicidal ideations with a single IV infusion. Ketamine has been shown to be 70% effective in TDD. According to a review published in ScienceDirect, “recent findings from human and animal research (are) demonstrating rapid-acting mechanisms via which ketamine effectively rescues stress-induced pathologies linked to suicide risk.” In addition, they also discovered additional impacts on clinical risk factors: ketamine improves mood, sleep, and reward processing

Although the response to a single infusion is short-lived (a matter of days), repeat administration over a short time (typically two weeks) can extend the length of remission, with some patients enjoying improvement for as long as six months. Additional “booster” treatments can be given that continually expand the duration of remission of symptoms. Ketamine infusions are safe, rapid, and effective. Consequently, ketamine infusion therapy is revolutionizing the treatment of depressive disorders.


If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. If you are interested in exploring Ketamine Infusion Therapy to treat suicidal ideation or depression, call our clinic at 505-639-4973 or click here.