Ketamine, one of a handful of hallucinogens categorized as “date-rape” drugs, is well known for its ability to produce out-of-body experiences and transcendent-like states. While highly addictive and outright dangerous when abused, ketamine nonetheless belongs to the Schedule III class of controlled substances due to its medicinal properties.
Along with its current use as an anesthetic, recent ketamine research studies have uncovered other potential uses for ketamine as an addiction treatment medication.
Ketamine Dosage Level Effects
Ketamine acts as a central nervous system depressant that also produces dissociative or “out-of-body” effects. Ketamine works by shutting off communications between the brain and body. These conditions enable the brain to enter a hallucinogenic state.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ketamine produces different effects at different dosage levels. Whereas snorting 30 to 50 milligrams of ketamine produces a dreamy-like effect, amounts over 100 milligrams produce states of unconsciousness and hallucinations.
Much of the work done in ketamine research has sought to explore its therapeutic effects at various dosage levels.
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New Findings on Ketamine’s Effects in the Brain
According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, a ketamine research study published in the Journal of Science examined the drug’s effects on the brain’s chemical processes. Results showed ketamine blocks certain nerve cell receptor sites, while stimulating the production of new neural synapses within the brain’s prefrontal cortex region.
The prefrontal cortex region regulates complex cognitive processes, such as thinking emotions and behavior. In effect, an increase in neural synapses makes it easier for the brain to:
- See the world in different ways
- React to external events in different ways
- Produce new behavioral responses
Once fully understood, these effects can go a long way towards helping recovering addicts better understand and incorporate the principles of recovery into their daily lives.
Ketamine’s hallucinatory effects are often described as transcendent, providing users with insights into life and existence. According to Masarykovy Univerzity, ketamine research studies conducted between the years 2003 and 2005 found ketamine-induced hallucinations to provide transpersonal benefits in terms of their ability to alter a person’s perception and overall understanding of his or her life experience.
These benefits all but mirror the goals of traditional psychotherapy approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral and dialectic therapies in addiction treatment. In effect, ketamine’s ability to “reframe” a person’s perceptions holds considerable promise as a means for helping recovering addicts overcome or see past the destructive mindset and behaviors that addiction breeds.
Recent Ketamine Research on Depression & Drug Withdrawal
While the immediate effects of drug detox withdrawal in any form only last seven to 10 days, it’s not uncommon for symptoms of depression to persist for months into the recovery process. Subsequently, persistent feelings of depression pose an ongoing risk of relapse for those in recovery.
Recent ketamine research studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2006 show a low doses of ketamine provided considerable relief from depression symptoms within two hours’ time, with effects lasting for up to seven days. From an addiction recovery standpoint, these results open up new possibilities for treating drug withdrawal as well as the types of long-term depression symptoms experienced in recovery.
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