Through the ‘90s, ketamine had a bad reputation as a party drug. However, recent studies show that ketamine is a highly effective treatment for a variety of health problems, including depression and anxiety. Not only that, but it is now being researched—albeit ironically—as a promising treatment for substance abuse disorders. Substance use disorder occurs when a person’s use of alcohol or drugs leads to health issues, or problems at work, school, or home.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that those with mental illness will most likely have consumed alcohol or other substances at some point in their lives. Depression will often go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Those who have substance abuse problems are more likely to suffer from depression, and take to drinking or drugs to alleviate their moods or escape feelings of sadness.

Ketamine infusions have now been shown to alleviate depression in as few as 1-2 infusions, with relief starting as early as immediately after the first infusion. After the initial series of infusions, relief may last for several months at a time. A new and very interesting study, recently published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that ketamine can alleviate depression for up to 4-weeks longer when substance abuse runs in the family. A single infusion of ketamine has a strong antidepressant property for treatment of major depressive disorder. If a family has a history of alcohol use then it is shown as a positive predictor of ketamine’s antidepressant response. Another study showed the effectiveness of ketamine in the treatment of substance abuse disorder between January 1997 and January 2018; it demonstrated a decrease in cravings and motivation in cocaine use. The study showed that ketamine may facilitate abstinence across multiple substances of abuse, and therefore should be investigated further for addiction treatment.

Ketamine for substance needs to be more thoroughly researched, though it is widely available for the treatment of severe depression and anxiety at clinics—like ours—around the country. If you are depressed—whether or not you have a history or family history of substance abuse—ketamine infusions may be perfect for you.

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