Ketamine

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Defining Ketamine

Ketamine, which is classified as a NDMA receptor antagonist, is a drug used in the treatment of humans as well as animals. NDMA receptor antagonists work as anesthetics by preventing the action of N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor. Ketamine is classified as a core medicine in the essential drug list given by the world health organization. Due to the increase in illicit use of ketamine for recreational purposes, it is classified as a schedule III drug by the United States Controlled Substances Act.

It is primarily used as an anesthetic on its own or in combination with general anesthesia. It is also used as an analgesic in the absence of availability of pain relievers such as morphine. Ketamine is also used to treat patients suffering from bipolar disorder and depression on whom other antidepressants do not seem to work.

Ketamine is also a powerful hallucinogenic drug and due to its ability to induce euphoria and hallucinations, it is used as a recreational drug like DMT, DXM and PCP. It also induces a state of dissociative anesthesia, which may cause the user to have out of body experiences and feel detached from their own body and the world. Unlike other antidepressants, ketamine starts working within two hours of taking a dose instead of weeks. It is also used to treat patients suffering from asthma and chronic obstructive airway disease.

Side Effects of Ketamine

Short-Term

  • Nausea
  • Tachycardia
  • Erythema
  • Salivation
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Delirium
  • Altered mental state
  • Memory impairment
  • Impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Lifelike dreams
  • Nightmares

Long-Term

  • Neurological disorders
  • Urinary track disorders

Addiction and Overdose

Although even prolonged ketamine use does not lead to physical dependence, people may still become addicted to it. An addict may experience cognitive impairments and psychological problems while trying to quit. It is important not to take too much Ketamine as the outcome could be potentially life-threatening.

Ketamine should be carefully administered, as an overdose can be lethal. Generally, people who take ketamine for recreational purposes are more prone to an overdose as they tend to take higher doses than they would if they were prescribed. An overdose of ketamine can cause permanent damage to organs, put the user in a coma, cause permanent psychosis and, in the most severe cases, cause death due to respiratory depression or damage to the central nervous system. In case of an overdose, the individual should immediately be rushed to get medical assistance. Symptoms of a ketamine overdose include:

  • Dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Reduced rate of respiration

In case an individual presents any of the above-mentioned symptoms after a dose of ketamine, he or she should immediately be rushed to get medical attention.

Treatment

Although physical dependence is rare, prolonged ketamine use can impair cognitive function, which may lead individuals to continue taking ketamine. Therefore it may not be very easy to simply stop using. He/she might need to undergo therapy and counseling sessions to help realize that an addiction exists. In certain cases, a patient might need to be provided with assisted ventilation and in case seizures occur, Benzodiazepines might need to be administered to the patient. Detoxification, treatment, and recovery may include the following therapies and techniques:

  • Group/Family therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Recreation therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

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