How Ketamine Can Help Treat Opioid Addiction

Opioids are medications taken to treat severe pain, and they are sometimes called narcotics. People use them for several purposes; however, they must be prescribed by a doctor. Opioids can treat chronic levels of headaches and backaches, especially for those who are recovering from surgery or high levels of chronic pain. Opioids are also known to treat serious injuries due to falls, accidents, and so on. Even though they can act as great painkillers, they can still be addictive. Opioids work on making your mind and body believe that they are essential if you want to survive. Thus, many people start misusing opioids until they become addicted to them. Fortunately, opioid addiction, like any other addiction, can be treated. One possible treatment is the use of Ketamine as it is believed to treat opioid addiction.  

What is ketamine?


Ketamine is an anesthetic medication used by medical practitioners. It comes as a white crystalline powder. It can be taken in the form of tablets and pills, or it can be dissolved in liquid. Ketamine is known to be prescribed to treat chronic pain. Additionally, it is not legal to sell ketamine without a doctor’s prescription. If you live in Los Angeles, you can find quite a few ketamine clinics in Los Angeles clinics that focus on treating chronic pain with ketamine. Generally, they make sure to discuss the history of your physical and mental health before deciding on your treatment plan. They also need to know general information about you, such as your age, height, weight, gender… etc.. Such a check-up is essential to all the Ketamine clinics out there, since it helps the doctors decide on the right dosage for your treatment.  


What was it initially used for?


Ketamine was first known as a medication that induces loss of consciousness. It has been approved by the FDA as an anesthetic, and for decades, it has been used as a painkiller. Being the painkiller that it is, it’s known to make people feel relaxed and relieved from pain. Doctors originally infused it at low levels in the patients’ bloodstreams to treat any symptoms of pain. This method was known to be 80% effective. Moreover, it is a class III scheduled drug, which means that it must be taken according to a doctor’s prescription as previously mentioned.  


How was it abused?


Ketamine became known as a club drug, just like ecstasy is. It produces a psychedelic effect for being a dissociative anesthetic. In other words, it causes distortion of a person’s sense of sight, sense, and sound. Hence, a person starts to get dissociated from the environment and starts losing his/her consciousness. A person can acquire Ketamine through illegal channels; it can be snorted or smoked. Once it is abused, it gives the user a sense of euphoria throughout the entire body as well as causing sensations of floating. Even though it can be used freely if you’re prescribed ketamine, it still has the risk and potential to be addictive. Thus, using it outside the approved limits could make a person hallucinate and affect both a person’s physical and mental health.  


Does Ketamine treat opioid addiction?


Even though opioids are good painkillers, patients tend to misuse them and eventually get addicted to them. Luckily, Ketamine has been discovered by scientists to treat opioid addiction. Apart from the fact that scientists are still not sure how Ketamine exactly works, they are sure that it can treat such type of addiction. Thus, Ketamine became used by anesthetists and pain physicians as an effective agent to help treat opioid addiction.  


How does Ketamine treat opioid addiction?


Any person who uses opioids is known to do so for relieving any physical or mental pain. However, this process can lead a person to addiction. Later on, when that person decides to quit and seek ways to treat his or her addiction, they’ll notice that, unfortunately, the process itself might cause them to face higher levels of pain as a sign of withdrawal.   Ketamine, in such a case, is known to be of good help as it can efficiently treat opioid addiction.  

First things first, Ketamine activates opioid receptors in the opioid system. Opioid receptors are known to control pain as they react to opioid drugs. They are also associated with controlling any addictive behavior as well as reward responses. Another thing is that ketamine activates the brain’s glutamate system. The glutamate system produces glutamate, which is responsible for controlling the brain’s synapses as well as enhancing its memory and learning. Most of the experts out there claim that Ketamine targets the NMDA receptor and stimulates the AMPA receptor. The NMDA receptor mainly focuses on controlling a person’s memory and neuroplasticity. As for the AMPA receptor, it is known to be a glutamate receptor. What Ketamine does is that while it attacks the NMDA receptor and stimulates the AMPA receptor, it restricts the brain from absorbing glutamate in an incorrect manner. Therefore, the brain’s synapses become well-controlled and start functioning properly. Later on, Ketamine starts helping the brain become healthier by disrupting the neural networks and then starting to rebuild them again.  

That is why most of the experts claim that Ketamine has a very powerful role in treating addiction. Hence, for being the drug addiction controller that Ketamine is, it helps reduce the person’s need for opioids eventually.

Opioids make a person believe that it’s impossible to survive without consuming them. This is mainly the whole reason why people start misusing them and hence become addicted. However, Ketamine has many distinctive features in treating addiction in general for its drug addiction controlling mechanism. Despite the fact that Ketamine can be abused, Ketamine can still be a way to treat opioid addiction if taken well and under a doctor’s supervision. Most of the other interacting psychotropic treatments for opioid addiction have shown that Ketamine treatment can work in a more effective manner. In other words, Ketamine is a better candidate to manage opioid withdrawal pharmacologically. This is due to the previously mentioned facts on Ketamine and how it helps in treating opioid withdrawal.  



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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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