Ketamine began as an injectable, short-acting anesthetic used by hospitals and veterinarians alike. And, while it is still used as an anesthetic today, it is known for other uses. Ketamine-assisted therapy is delivering results that traditional treatments may not. Those with treatment-resistant mental illness are seeing promising results with the addition of ketamine therapy in their treatment regime.
Though ketamine has become a common street drug—often referred to as Special K, Vitamin K, and Cat Valium—and is labeled as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the Controlled Substances Act, it has medical value. In fact, ketamine is quickly gaining popularity among doctors.
Ketamine therapy is an alternative treatment for mental illness that is garnering a lot of attention.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine therapy is used as a complementary treatment for mental illness. Complementary treatments are typically alternative therapies that are used to complement the more traditional treatment methods. So, ketamine-assisted therapy would accompany the more traditional medications used to combat mental illness.
Ketamine treatment takes place in a clinical setting where a health provider must watch over the patient for at least 2 hours after each dose. It is usually administered twice a week for the first month, once a week for the second month, and once every other week following the initial treatment.
Ketamine was first synthesized in the early 60s as ketamine hydrochloride and was used as a common hospital anesthetic. In the early 70s, Salvador Roquet began experimenting with lower doses of ketamine as a treatment for mental health disorders.
While other psychedelics, like psilocybin and LSD, received legal pushback, ketamine remained “medically legal”. In the early 2000s, researchers again began studying the benefits of ketamine-assisted therapy for depression. Researchers from Yale found that ketamine can trigger glutamate production which can prompt the brain to form new neural connections.
With research and evidence-backed results, ketamine therapy began increasing clinical use around 2015 with ketamine treatment centers beginning to pop up around the world.
What Can Ketamine Therapy Treat?
Ketamine therapy has shown promising results for treating mental illnesses, particularly treatment-resistant depression.
The research on ketamine therapy is so clear that in 2018, an FDA-approved drug, ketamine, was released. Eskaetamine, which is a nasal spray approved to treat depression, is two to five times more potent than traditional ketamine allowing for lower doses.
One study found a significant improvement in depression, anxiety, and the severity of the illness after just two weeks. The study states that ketamine had a “robust and rapid effect on depression” with results almost immediately after administration of the drug. Patients saw sustained results even after a month, which is an incredible relief for those struggling to see results with traditional treatments alone.
The Legalities of Ketamine Treatment
Ketamine is medically legal, but it is not legal for recreational use. It is still listed as a Schedule III drug in the U.S. and a Class B drug in the UL. Schedule III drugs are believed to have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs. Unlike Schedule I or II drugs, there is no dispute over their medical relevance.
Ketamine therapy is currently available in two forms: the FDA-approved nasal spray and an IV therapy. While the nasal spray is restricted in its distribution, IV therapy is less so. IV therapy is only approved as an anesthetic but is sometimes used in ketamine treatment centers.
Unfortunately, this leaves the ketamine treatment centers less regulated as well. In many states, a specific regulatory facility license is not even required. These laws vary from state to state. Since ketamine is still a Schedule III drug, it is regulated and should only be administered by licensed physicians in a controlled setting.
In Which States is Ketamine Therapy Legal?
Thanks to evidence-backed support, ketamine therapy is legal in many countries, including the United States. It is regulated and there is an FDA-approved treatment option available.
The majority of states mirror the federal acceptance of off-label usage and allow for ketamine treatment to be provided in a clinical setting with the supervision of a licensed medical professional with the authority and expertise to administer it safely.
Currently, ketamine-assisted therapy is legal in every state. Licensure, the scope of practice, physician supervision, prescriptive authority, and the establishment of a physician-patient relationship are governed at the state level. So, those looking to receive ketamine-assisted therapy should look into their state laws before reaching out to a physician or one of their state’s ketamine treatment centers.
Heally has a network of doctors across the country and access to medical professionals at ketamine treatment centers with the authority and expertise needed for safe ketamine treatment. Get started today!