What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine started out as an anesthetic during the Vietnam War. Its nature as a sedative made people need fewer addictive painkillers, like Morphine. It was later discovered that high doses of it could trigger auditory and visual hallucinations. While it has lost popularity as a regular painkiller in favor of Opioids, it is still used as surgical anesthesia and is being implemented in new ways to fight depression. It has also become popular as an illicit party drug for being a sedative and hallucinogenic. Ketamine has also been extensively used as a “date-rape drug” due to its ability to incapacitate and distort the perception of women. It goes by several names on the street, including:
- Horse trank
- Horse tranquilizer
- Special K
- Cat valium
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Effects of Ketamine
While Ketamine is still used for surgeries on animals and people, it has become more popular for recreational use. Its hallucinogenic effects have made it a drug of choice at raves, parties, and concerts. Much like Ecstasy, people use it as part of the experience. Even small amounts of it can cause:
- Feeling detached from your body
- Confusion and clumsiness
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Anxiety, panic and violence
- Lowered sensitivity to pain
It is important to note, that these effects are not alway guaranteed. Often times, someone will think that a drug is fine because it doesn’t produce negative effects right away, but no one ever truly knows what will happen with illicit drugs. There are no rules and regulations that come with drug dealing, so one cannot say with certainty what they are taking. Not experiencing some or any of the side effects above is not a good thing. In fact, it can be just as dangerous, as it makes the drug more alluring and makes the user more likely to develop an addiction.
As with any drug, an overdose of Ketamine is possible. Overdose can cause:
- Inability to move, rigid muscles
- High body temperature
- Fast heartbeat
- Coma and ‘near death’ experiences
People coming down from Ketamine will find that they are clumsier, disoriented, and suffering from lapses in their memory.
If users take too much Ketamine, they may become entirely dissociated from the world around them. In this state, which is known as a “K-Hole,” the user’s control over their body and their perception of the world around them is so impaired that they are unable to interact or communicate with others. “Falling into a K-Hole,” is frequently described as a terrifying and extremely unpleasant experience, both by the user and those surrounding them.
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How Ketamine is Helping Depression
In recent years, doctors have started experimenting with Ketamine as a way to combat depression. Studies are still going on, and no affirmative conclusions can be made about why it is so effective against depression. One hypothesis is that it helps build new connections in the brain, but without anything certain it is still up in the air.
This is not to say that abusing Ketamine illegally will help people suffering from depression. These studies are still fairly new, and require medical professionals help with proper dosing. Taking too much can send someone into a K-Hole. This, in turn can lead someone to becoming addicted to its effects and abuse the anesthetic more and more. Rather than helping this depression, they can make the situation worse and put their life at risk.
In 2011, emergency rooms across the US received 1,550 people who were suffering from the effects of Ketamine.
Legally, there were 16,000 prescriptions dispensed of Ketamine in 2012.
Ketamine is highly addictive. The effects it has on the brain make it easy to build a dependency on it and go into withdrawal if someone goes without it. In these cases, the withdrawal can cause people to become increasingly anxious to the point of violence. Treatment centers, in these cases, have found it helpful to use Benzodiazepines in treatment. Similar to the way the benzos are useful for withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, benzos nature as a depressant can help keep the body calm when the body is suffering from withdrawal of Ketamine. This is because when the body becomes addicted to a substance that depresses the central nervous system, (CNS), the body becomes dependent on its calming effects. This means going without it can cause someone to become erratic and violent.
Treatment for Ketamine
If you know someone who suffers from addiction to Ketamine, then it is likely they need help. In many cases, people who suffer from addiction are unable to see their own destructive patterns. In cases like these, an intervention may be necessary. If you want to intervene but don’t know how, then reach out to a dedicated treatment specialist. They’re here to help you figure out you next steps. Be it for you or someone else.
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