Many people who have heard of ketamine have negative associations with the drug. It is a derivative of the hallucinogenic drug PCP, and for awhile it was a very popular club drug. However, that’s not how the story of the drug began, nor is it where the story should end. In the right doses, ketamine is a very useful drug for treating asthma and pain. Furthermore, ketamine infusion therapy is a very effective treatment for depression.

History of Ketamine as an Anesthetic

Ketamine was created in a lab in 1926, but it didn’t come to widespread attention until the 1960s. At the time it was being used as an animal anesthetic, and people became increasingly aware of its potential benefits as anesthesia for humans. The benefits include:

It’s easy to transport and use. It doesn’t require an anesthesiologist.
It can be given intravenously, through injection, or as a pill.
It’s a sedative but not as strong as other forms of anesthesia.
Ketamine does not need to be refrigerated.
Ketamine doesn’t obstruct the airway, so it has fewer risks than other forms of anesthesia.

Due to these benefits, it gained widespread use in combat during the Vietnam War.

History of Ketamine as a Recreational Drug

Of course, whenever a drug is available, some people will use it recreationally. The popularity of the drug grew throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was mixed with MDMA but also used on its own. People created new forms of the drug including powder and crystal versions. It got linked with the rave dance scene. As a result, the drug was stigmatized. By the end of the 1990’s, the federal government had classified it as a Schedule III controlled substance.

Medical Uses for Ketamine

Doctors have known all along about the benefits of ketamine. In fact, it’s not just used as an anesthetic. Ketamine is also used to treat both acute and chronic pain. Furthermore, it’s a drug that opens the airways, so it can be used to reverse life-threatening asthma attacks. It also shows great potential as a mental health drug, specifically for the treatment of depression.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy is Not the Same as Club Drugs

Ketamine was stigmatized as a club drug. Indeed, when used improperly, it can have negative side effects. However, when used properly as a treatment for depression, those side effects can be avoided or mitigated.

The biggest issue is, of course, dosage. People consuming drugs recreationally don’t necessarily know their dosage, nor are they trying to stay in a specific healing range. In contrast, ketamine infusion therapy is strictly monitored to offer the correct healing dose with the fewest side effects.

Moreover, the IV method of treatment differs greatly from use of ketamine as a street drug. As a club drug, ketamine can be a tablet, powder, crystal, or solution. It can be swallowed, smoked, or injected. Each method of use has different effects, which can vary by person. Furthermore, the dosage gets even more mixed up depending on how the drug is consumed. Then there’s the fact that it could be mixed with any number of other substances from cough syrup to MDMA, which will further alter its effect. In contrast, ketamine infusion therapy done in a doctor’s office is carefully delivered in the healthiest way possible to ensure maximum relief with minimum side effects.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Depression

Research thus far has shown that ketamine is a highly effective treatment options for many people struggling with depression. It works quickly, with results obtained the same day, which is not the case for most other anti-depressants. It has also shown promise in people with treatment resistant depression, which means that it might work for people that haven’t gotten relief from other forms of medication and therapy. When used properly, ketamine has very few side effects. Therefore, it should not be overlooked as a treatment option for people with depression. Yes, it has a history as a club drug, but there is so much more to it than that.

Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell is a Psychiatrist in New York City and specializes in issues involving anxiety depression and adult ADHD. Ketamine for Depression is one of the many treatments Dr. Ditzell offers to treat a variety of mental health issues.