Ketamine Used to Treat Substance Abuse Disorder

What Is Substance Abuse Disorder?

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic: “Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you’re addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.”

Many cases of substance abuse disorder can be treated with ketamine therapy.

Know the Symptoms

  • Using or consuming larger quantities or over extended periods than initially planned.
  • Frequently wanting or ineffectively attempting to limit or control the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Spending considerable time acquiring, using, or recuperating from using drugs or alcohol.
  • Craving or having an intense urge to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Constant drug or alcohol usage restricts work, school, or home responsibilities.
  • You keep using alcohol or drugs even when you’re aware of the relationship issues and harm it causes to others.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Risk factors can increase a person’s chances for drug abuse, while protective factors can reduce the risk.” Several factors, including: influence the chance that someone will fall victim to substance abuse

  • Family history
  • You had parents or parental figures who had favorable attitudes towards such behavior
  • Lack of monitoring by parents or authority figures
  • Parental substance use
  • You associate with others who are substance abusers
  • Absence of strong personal relationships
  • Childhood abuse
  • Existing mental health issues

Indicators to Watch For

If you or someone you know has a substance abuse problem, there are indicators to watch for:

  • Problems at school, work or socializing in general
  • A plethora of physical health issues which are readily apparent
  • Lack of concern over personal appearance and hygiene
  • Noticeable changes in behavior, such as secrecy, unusually high need for personal space and boundaries, or sudden changes in behavior and relationships with family and others
  • Money issues related to acquiring favored drugs, alcohol, or other substances which are regularly abused

Ketamine Used to Treat Substance Abuse Disorder

Ketamine is a medicine-first synthesized as an anesthetic in the 1960s and gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human and animal use in 1970. It was field-tested on wounded U.S. troops in Vietnam. Since that time, people have discovered many of its other medicinal uses, including treating conditions like substance abuse disorder.

The medicine is primarily dispensed in low doses intravenously when treating mental illness and other conditions. According to one study reported in Frontiers in Psychiatry, ketamine has shown promise in these areas: “These results suggest that ketamine may facilitate abstinence across multiple substances of abuse and warrants broader investigation in addiction treatment.”

Substance abuse disorder is often influenced by mental illness, with depression being one of the most common mental illnesses experienced by someone battling substance abuse issues. How does it work? 

Ketamine may work to repair or strengthen faulty neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for perceptions of pain and mood and emotional regulation, so quickly in fact that it’s been cited as a better option than certain antidepressants.

Ketamine blocks the NMDA receptors, which play an essential role in mood stability, and delivers serotonin directly to the brain by hindering the NMDA receptors, effectively lowering depression symptoms quickly, often within a few hours.

Unlike other medicine, fewer doses of ketamine are needed and can last several days or longer. The U.S. National Library of Medicine concluded in one study that “ketamine shows great promise as a treatment for various addictions, but well-controlled research is urgently needed.”

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing substance abuse is never easy, often because of symptoms that overlap with other conditions. The best person to offer diagnosis and treatment options is a medical or mental health professional specializing in substance abuse. If the abuse is related to a medical condition, the condition may be treatable and thereby reduce substance abuse from happening. A mental health professional may also identify triggers for your illness, such as a personal or family history of mental illness and other risk factors.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to make substance use less palatable and recommend psychotherapy or ketamine therapy.

Final Thoughts

If you think you’re experiencing substance abuse disorder, talk with a medical or mental health professional for diagnosis and to learn about treatment options. With time and care, you can regain control of your life.