What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning it blocks sensory perception. In the U.S. it’s been used since the 1970s. Dissociative drugs can lead to distortion of sights, colors, sounds, self, and one’s environment. It is commonly included in the family of drugs including phencyclidine (PCP) and dextromethorphan (DXM). Ketamine is commonly sold as a clear liquid or off-white powder form for intravenous injection. It can provide pain relief and short-term memory loss, which is why it’s often used with surgeries for sedation and general anesthesia. This drug is under research and holding promise as a treatment for severe depression, ptsd and anxiety in very difficult cases, with clinical trials passing Phase III trials in 2018. Results from the trials have been incredibly positive, often curing people with one treatment cycle, with up to six applications.

Pharmacologically, ketamine disrupts the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) glutamate. Glutamate is involved with learning, memory, emotion, pain recognition. It can exhibit sympathomimetic activity which can lead to rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

Through nasal ingestion, the onset effects take roughly 5-15 minutes, and lasts roughly 1-2 hours, but coordination may be affected for up to 24 hours. Ketamine does have hallucinogenic properties, with users feeling like they’re floating, with stimulation and visual effects. Common feelings while on the drug include a sense of calmness and relaxation, a detached feeling from one’s body, slurred speech, diminished reflexes, and uncontrolled movements of the eyes. Effects post treatment often include a sense of mental clarity.

In the U.S., ketamine is in schedule III under the DEA Controlled Substances Act; however, it is not classified as a narcotic. It is currently being administered in medical treatment centers throughout North America.

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