Addictive, Damaging Party Drug Ketamine as Fast Treatment for Depression?

Ketamine warning

Sounds Way Too Good to be True

Did you ever hear that saying “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t”? That could apply to plans to use the party drug ketamine to treat depression. In an article published on the website www.nature.com, it’s reported that doctors have been trying out ketamine to treat those struggling with depression. Here’s one reason why ketamine has caught the attention of medical practitioners: doctors may have to wait weeks for there to be any change at all in patients after a drug is prescribed for depression but ketamine’s impact is very fast.

Some doctors think that ketamine should not only be used to treat depression, but also someone who is suicidal. Dr. Zarate of the National Institute of Mental Health has even stated that a person who has just tried to commit suicide may be able to be treated with ketamine and then be released within hours. When a person may have taken years to get so upset with life that he wants to kill himself, it could be deeply irresponsible to just give this person a drug and then send him on his way.

Why Ketamine is a Drug to be Taken Seriously

  1. Ketamine is mainly used as an animal anesthetic. It is occasionally used as an anesthetic for humans and in fact, was frequently used in field hospitals in Vietnam. But the aftereffects of the drug were sufficiently alarming that it has mostly dropped out of use except for specific situations where other drugs can’t be used. What were those alarming after effects? Hallucinations, delirium, bizarre and frightening dreams that may even occur later, after the drug has worn off.
  2. Another reason the drug should be taken seriously is that in some circles, ketamine is a very popular drug of abuse. Among ravers and partygoers, it is renowned for causing dissociation – a condition where your mind and identity appear to be separate from your body or the environment. Any drug that is prone to abuse must be administered very carefully to restrict access to those who might want to abuse it.
  3. Ketamine is addictive so having more of this drug in circulation could make more of it available for diversion and abuse. This was the pattern that followed when there was an enormous increase in the number of painkiller prescriptions written.
  4. Chronic use of ketamine is associated with damage to the bladder, even to the point of severe pain on urination, inability to urinate or the need for surgery to remove the bladder entirely.
  5. Because ketamine causes amnesia as well as anesthesia, it is one of the main date-rape drugs, along with GHB and Rohypnol. A victim will not be able to taste ketamine if it has been added to her drink. Again, this is a good reason to take the drug seriously and severely limit its distribution.
ketamine hallucinations

So Will this Treatment for Depression Work?

An instant-fix for depression resembles one of those situations where something sounds too good to be true. It’s very hard to envision a situation where a person can try to kill themselves at noon, be injected with ketamine and then be discharged to lead a normal, happy life before dinner. That a drug could accomplish something like this. Could this “quick fix” attitude end up putting depressed or suicidal people in danger because of the fast treatment and discharge, not to mention the side effects of the drug itself?

What we don’t want is a large experiment that results in unnecessary loss of life or misery. There are very few if any problems in life that can truly be solved with the jab of a needle. When lives are on the line, prudence dictates a thorough period of research before giving people this false hope of an instant recovery from serious problems.


Sources:

http://www.nature.com/news/rave-drug-holds-promise-for-treating-depression-fast-1.16664

http://www.drugs.com/cdi/ketamine.html

http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/date-rape-drugs.html

AUTHOR

Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.