Efficacy of Ketamine in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review PMC

Prospective trials are also needed to give further information about ketamine’s efficacy in alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol and illicit drug use is an escalating and complex global public health burden. In 2010, the global prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use disorders were 9.6 and 10.9% respectively (1). Mortality rates have risen to epidemic proportions in some countries due to increasing prevalence of opioid use.

  • It also forces us to stop and focus on the injury, preventing further damage.
  • More recently, ketamine has been shown in two meta-analyses to induce ultra-rapid remission of severe depression and suicidal ideation using sub-anesthetic dosages (13–15).
  • In fact, it can help you with both your physical and mental health.
  • Ketamine is an anesthetic, meaning it lowers a person’s sensitivity to pain.
  • Some people mix cocaine and ketamine, often referred to as Calvin Klein or CK Blend.

We’ll be examining the symptoms to look out for, and factors that can increase the risk of developing a dependence or addiction to ketamine. This article will also look into trusted treatments that can help overcome ketamine misuse. Risk factors for fatal overdose include low drug tolerance, low body weight, and taking ketamine with opiates or alcohol.


The NMDA receptor plays a role in how glutamate transmits messages between brain cells. Ketamine also has smaller effects on other receptor subtypes, such as the dopaminergic and opioid receptors. Ketamine ketamine addiction also causes individuals to have no memory of events that happen while they are under its influence. Due to this effect and its ability to sedate and incapacitate, some people use it as a date-rape drug.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration, facing backlash for telehealth companies and physicians, agreed to extend the flexible approach through 2024. Ketamine targets a brain chemical messenger called glutamate, which is thought to play a role in both pain and depression. It’s unclear whether the psychedelic experience is part of the drug’s therapeutic effect, though some practitioners consider it essential.

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Addiction to substances such as ketamine is characterized by an inability to stop despite negative consequences, preoccupation with the substance, and disruptions that interfere with important aspects of life. When people try to stop using ketamine, they may also experience symptoms of withdrawal. While ketamine overdoses are not strongly linked to death, consuming large amounts of this drug can be fatal. Doctors have increasingly been prescribing ketamine off-label for mental health conditions like treatment-resistant depression. Due to the unpredictable nature of Ketamine, it is difficult for the user to gauge how much is too much. Sometimes an overdose can occur after a small dose of Ketamine, especially if other drugs or alcohol have also been ingested.

ketamine addiction

Ketamine can be used medically, sometimes to sedate children who have had adverse reactions to other Anesthetic medications or in radiation or burn therapy. It is also used in situations where sedation is necessary, but stronger Anesthetics may be too much for the individual to handle. Ketamine addiction is uncommon, but individuals may choose to use the drug regularly. Common types of drug addiction counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, can teach people healthy, drug-free ways to cope with stress or other issues. One case report stated that motivational interviewing helped a person decide to stop using ketamine.

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Ketamine resulted in more days abstinent at six-month follow-up than placebo, with the greatest reduction in the ketamine plus therapy group. Compared to other antidepressants, ketamine has a unique mechanism of action. Whereas most antidepressants affect levels of serotonin, ketamine works on a different receptor, called the NMDA receptor.

ketamine addiction

The effects of ketamine on withdrawal states are particularly important to further investigate. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can result in life-threatening medical sequela, and the severe physiologic response to opioid withdrawal may deterrent to initial treatment. The opioid withdrawal study (23) showed physiologic suppression of opiate withdrawal. The results from the ongoing naltrexone induction study should provide some insight as to whether ketamine improves opioid withdrawal symptoms independent from rapid opioid induction under general anesthesia. Future studies should assess and report on concurrent use of FDA-approved treatments for opioid use disorder (both at baseline and in the follow-up phase).

Ketamine’s effects are powerful, and once a person has developed tolerance they will need to take more of the substance to feel the same euphoric effects. If a person becomes psychologically addicted to ketamine, they may eventually develop a tolerance, particularly after prolonged misuse. Ketamine is particularly dangerous when mixed with other substances such as alcohol, opioids, or tranquilizers, as it may lead to slowed breathing, decreased heart function, and coma. Injecting ketamine involves using a liquid form of ketamine and injecting the drug into a vein or muscle (intramuscular) using a syringe and needle.

  • The sublingual wafers are made at iX’s research and development and manufacturing center in Melbourne, Australia using a proprietary freeze-drying manufacturing process (Fig. 1).
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  • Substances are considered addictive if they lead to compulsive use despite negative consequences.
  • In 2020, 1.3% of 12th graders were found to have misused the drug for recreational purposes—this number was at 0.7% only a year prior.
  • Ketamine targets a brain chemical messenger called glutamate, which is thought to play a role in both pain and depression.

Ketamine addiction also makes it difficult for people to function as they normally do in their daily life and activities. If substance misuse disrupts work, school, and personal relationships, it can indicate a ketamine addiction. Because of its addictive nature, this drug is more commonly used in veterinary clinics to sedate animals. Ketamine is available as an injectable liquid but is also abused in powder form. Ketamine is often combined with other drugs, which can make the negative side effects of Ketamine even worse. Ketamine in its liquid form can be easily mixed into an alcoholic beverage or added to Marijuana joints.