Ketamine, unlike the classic psychedelic substances, is a legal dissociative anesthetic that is used off-label in clinics throughout the world to treat mental health conditions, including depression and trauma. It is often paired with psychotherapy and used by both licensed and underground therapists. Ketamine is also widely used in non-clinical settings for personal and recreational use, but is illegal for this purpose. Ketamine is administered in various ways including IV delivery, IM injections, lozenges and snorting, which is a common delivery method for personal use.
Things to Know
- Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in Western medicine and has psychedelic-like effects
- Ketamine is being studied as a treatment for depression, PTSD, OCD, alcoholism, and chronic pain
- Ketamine is a Schedule III drug, and can be legally prescribed and administered by licensed clinicians
- Alongside its medical applications, ketamine has a history of recreational usage in club and rave settings
Ketamine has long been recognized for its anesthetic properties, but in recent years its capacity for treating mental health disorders has attracted attention. As a dissociative with effects that are often described as psychedelic at high doses, ketamine typically provides a distance from one’s familiar thought patterns and can provide profound inner journeys, sometimes inducing mystical experiences. At lower doses, ketamine may enhance the experience of dancing to music in club and rave settings.Read about ketamine benefits.
Ketamine Risks and Safety Considerations
Studies suggest that ketamine use is safe when used in clinical care for people of a wide age range. Most negative side effects occur after consuming too much ketamine, during unhealthy personal use patterns, or combining it with alcohol. Ketamine can be addictive and can cause permanent bladder damage if misused. It should be noted, however, that a lethal dose of ketamine is difficult to reach.Read about ketamine risks.
Long used as an anesthetic, the use of ketamine as a possible therapeutic agent for treating mental health conditions was first explored in the 1970s. While it has never been approved by the FDA for this purpose, ketamine is now widely used off-label as a medication for mental health therapy.Read about ketamine-assisted therapy.
Ketamine for Conditions
Ketamine is being used to treat an array of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in conjunction with therapy. These treatments often involve administering Ketamine in a clinical environment guided by a trained mental health professional, followed by talk therapy sessions.Read about ketamine for conditions.
Ketamine Science and Research
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in Western medicine and has psychedelic-like effects. It is not considered a classic psychedelic. Ketamine acts primarily as an antagonist to the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain, which are involved in the regulation of pain perception, memory, and learning. Its mechanism of action also involves the modulation of other neurotransmitter systems, such as glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin.Read about ketamine science and research.
The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies ketamine as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III drugs are substances or chemicals that have therapeutic or medicinal benefits with a low-to-moderate potential for psychological and physical dependence.Read about ketamine legality.
How to Take Ketamine
At moderate to higher subanesthetic doses, ketamine typically produces dissociative or psychedelic effects, ranging in expression and intensity depending on individual sensitivity. Ketamine does not usually induce psychedelic effects at extremely low doses, and psychedelic dose ranges are still below higher quantities used for anesthetic purposes.Read about how to take ketamine.
Ketamine was developed in 1962 by chemist Calvin Stevens for Parke-Davis Company (today, a subsidiary of Pfizer). It was developed as a less hallucinogenic and shorter-acting anesthetic agent than phencyclidine, or PCP, which was also created as a pharmaceutical anesthetic. Phencyclidine caused prolonged hallucinations and took people longer to recover from the effects, however, and was discontinued.Read about ketamine history.