Ketamine Therapy Basics
Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that has been used for decades to treat pain and induce anesthesia during surgeries. In recent years, researchers have been exploring its potential in treating mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. One of the biggest concerns with using ketamine for these purposes is the risk of addiction and abuse. In this article, we will explore how addictive ketamine is relative to other prescription medications and the risks of abuse and addiction.
Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance in the United States. This means that it has a moderate to low potential for abuse and dependence when compared to drugs in Schedule I and II. Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, while Schedule II drugs, such as opioids and amphetamines, have a high potential for abuse and dependence but also have accepted medical uses. Ketamine is classified as a Schedule III drug due to its potential for abuse and dependence, but also its accepted medical use.
While ketamine may be less addictive than other controlled substances, it is not without risks. At higher doses, it can cause dissociation, hallucinations, and other psychological side effects. There is also a risk of addiction and abuse, especially if used recreationally or outside of medical supervision. Ketamine can produce a sense of detachment from reality and a feeling of euphoria, which can be appealing to some individuals seeking a "high." Long-term use of ketamine can lead to bladder and kidney damage, as well as other health problems.
Research has been conducted to compare the addiction potential of ketamine to other medications. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2014 found that ketamine had a low potential for abuse and dependence, comparable to other Schedule III drugs such as anabolic steroids and testosterone. The study analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and found that the rate of nonmedical use of ketamine was low compared to other controlled substances.
Another study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in 2017 compared the addictive potential of ketamine to other drugs commonly used in anesthesia, including propofol and etomidate. The study found that while ketamine had a moderate potential for abuse and dependence, it was lower than that of propofol and etomidate. The study concluded that ketamine was a safe and effective anesthetic for use in medical settings, but cautioned against its use outside of medical supervision due to the risk of abuse and addiction.
Compared to other prescription medications, ketamine is considered to have a lower risk of addiction and dependence. For example, opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are highly addictive and can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are also highly addictive and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin, can lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms if used improperly or abused.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that ketamine was associated with a low risk of abuse and dependence. The study followed 58 patients who received ketamine infusions for depression and found no evidence of addiction or abuse. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that ketamine did not produce any significant withdrawal symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
While ketamine has a lower potential for abuse compared to other controlled substances, it is still possible to abuse ketamine. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2020, approximately 3.8 million Americans aged 12 and older reported misusing prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Of these individuals, 0.1% reported misusing ketamine specifically. This is a relatively low number compared to other prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, which have much higher rates of abuse and addiction.
However, it is important to note that these numbers only reflect reported misuse, and the actual number of individuals misusing ketamine may be higher. Additionally, the recreational use of ketamine, particularly in party settings or music festivals, has been on the rise in recent years, particularly among younger adults. This trend is concerning, as recreational use of ketamine can lead to serious health consequences, such as kidney and bladder damage, as well as psychological harm.
It is important to note that ketamine is not approved by the FDA for recreational use or non-medical purposes, and it is illegal to possess or distribute ketamine without a prescription. Anyone who is misusing ketamine or any other substance should seek professional help immediately.
In conclusion, ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance with a moderate to low potential for abuse and dependence compared to drugs in Schedules I and II. While it may have a lower potential for addiction than other controlled substances, it is not without risks, and long-term use can lead to physical and psychological harm. It is important to use ketamine only under medical supervision and to follow prescribed dosages and guidelines.
Recent studies have shown that ketamine has a lower potential for addiction and abuse compared to other prescription medications, but more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of ketamine use. It is also important to note that the misuse of ketamine, while relatively low compared to other drugs, is still a concern and can lead to serious health consequences.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, seek professional help immediately. With proper medical supervision and guidance, ketamine can be a valuable tool in treating mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.