Ketamine is an anesthetic developed in the early 1960s. It is one of the most widely used drugs in modern medicine. It has a variety of medical uses, and is FDA-approved as an anesthetic. Ketamine has a remarkably safe track record in surgical settings, and is frequently used in pediatric surgery. It is also commonly used to treat the extreme physical pain of a condition called CRPS/RSD. The US military has used ketamine as a battlefield anesthetic since the Vietnam War. Ketamine is also used in veterinary medicine. Just like many other essential medications such as morphine or Valium, ketamine is stolen from suppliers and pharmacies to be abused recreationally, and it is a controlled substance in many countries. In the US, ketamine is listed as DEA Schedule III.
WHAT IS KETAMINE?
IS KETAMINE INFUSION THERAPY SAFE?
In short, the answer is yes. When administered by a licensed, certified anesthesia provider, it is very safe. Before any medications are administered, a thorough physical assessment is performed to see if there is any reason why you shouldn’t receive ketamine. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level are monitored continuously throughout the infusion. There is some mild disassociation with low-dose ketamine infusions which is often described by patients as a “weird, disconnect from your body experience.” This goes away once the infusion stops and you may feel tired or hungover for about an hour. All side effects are gone approximately two hours after the infusion is stopped.
IS KETAMINE A RECREATIONAL DRUG?
Historically, ketamine has been used recreationally. When used recreationally, ketamine is ingested in much higher doses than would ever be administered at a ketamine clinic in a therapeutic setting. Ketamine is administered safely every day—not just for the treatment of depression and chronic pain, but as an alternative anesthetic and an emergency analgesic. In the wrong hands, however, ketamine can be abused. The providers at Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic are acutely aware of the risk of abuse, and take extraordinary measures to ensure the medication doesn’t make it into the wrong hands. We do not provide patients with take-home ketamine prescriptions—all ketamine infusions are performed in our clinic, under close clinical supervision.
COULD I BECOME ADDICTED TO KETAMINE?
Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically addicting substance. Used in a recreational setting, it can become psychologically addicting. When administered for depression treatment or chronic pain management, it is used in much smaller doses than what would be needed to achieve a recreational “high.” The chances that a patient would become psychologically addicted to ketamine infusions are slim. However, Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic takes the risk of addiction seriously. We screen all patients prior to their first infusion to assess their potential for addiction and/or abuse. We take great care to keep all ketamine within our clinic walls, and ensure that it never makes it into the wrong hands.
WILL KETAMINE TREATMENT WORK FOR ME?
Ketamine is an effective antidepressant for up to 70% of patients. Where traditional antidepressants are able to alleviate symptoms in only about 40% of patients, ketamine’s results are truly remarkable. Every patient experiences the effects of ketamine differently: some patients feel an immediate shift in their symptoms, while the fog lifts slowly but steadily for others. We cannot say how you will respond to ketamine infusion therapy, or if you will respond—but with a 70% success rate, the chances are good.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED KETAMINE INFUSION PROTOCOL?
Research shows that ketamine infusions are most effective when administered serially over an initial two week period. During that period, 6 infusions are recommended. After this, patients will enter the maintenance phase. Maintenance infusions are performed on an as-needed basis depending on the symptoms of the individual patient. Some patients may only need infusions every couple of months, or even as far as 6-months apart.
WHY DOES JACKSON HOLE KETAMINE CLINIC ONLY ADMINISTER KETAMINE INTRAVENOUSLY?
There are several routes of administration for ketamine including intranasal, sublingual, oral, intramuscular, and intravenous. At Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic, we exclusively administer ketamine intravenously for several reasons. When given intravenously, medications are 100% bioavailable, meaning the patient is receiving the precise dose that was given. Conversely, the other routes of administration have varying rates of absorption, speed of onset, rate of metabolism, and, once administered, cannot be adjusted in any way, that is, the patient is "just along for the ride" for however the ketamine may affect them. In most cases, the dissociation that comes with ketamine is pleasant, and in many cases it's enjoyable. However, for some, that feeling of "losing control" or being disoriented can be anxiety-inducing. And for others, we may even determine they need a higher dose. We strive to make each infusion a unique experience, catered specifically to the needs of the patient and sometimes this means briefly pausing the infusion, increasing the rate, or even giving an extra dose if we deem that necessary for the best outcome. Close one-on-one monitoring by our ketamine specialists and intravenous administration is the only route that allows for this customization, and we largely attribute the success rate we see with our patients to this approach.