What is ketamine? Its uses, effects, and impact on medicine and mental health

What is ketamine? Its uses, effects, and impact on medicine and mental health

Drug in the injection

Ketamine is a medically approved drug, which is used by doctors or medically trained officers to induce anesthesia in humans or animals during or after surgeries to lessen the painful effects. It is a general as well as dissociative aesthetic. General anesthetics make you fall asleep so that you won’t be able to feel pain and Dissociative anesthetics comes under the class of psychedelic drugs that make you hallucinate and lead to detachment from reality as there is a distorted sensory perception of oneself and the world around you.

Curious to know more about ketamine? Keep reading…

Ketamine was first synthesized by Calvin Stevens of the Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Company in 1962. It is a synthetic, non barbiturate that is metabolized in the liver and intestine and since it is water soluble as well as lipid soluble it can be infused through any mode. After the metabolism, Ketamine in the form of norketamine and as hydroxylated derivatives is excreted from the body as urine and feces. Since it is odorless and tasteless, people mix it with drinks or some eatables as anyone can’t detect it, to make people unconscious and kidnap them.

Also Read: Psychedelic Therapy: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research

Why Ketamine is commonly called a social drug?

Well, the answer is, that this drug is being seen to be used occasionally in nightclub culture by youngsters and partygoers for fun as ketamine can mimic the effects of street drugs like PCP, ecstasy, and angel dust and makes people feel high.

It is preferred over any other drug as it can make people hallucinate for short durations (30-60mins) by the intake of lower doses in form of pills or through injections, it can be snorted as well. Some people mix it with alcohol or other drugs like cocaine or marijuana for its better effect. Some people take it to relax, relieve daily stress, or break free from sexual constraints.

Ketamine makes people feel as if they are freely floating or as if they are present in some other world. It is also known as K-hole which is an out-of-body experience as if you are out of your body, wandering freely. Some people often mistook it as a spiritual experience while others seem to get scared.

Other names for ketamine

Ketamine can also be called as

  • super k
  • special k
  • Ketalar
  • ketaject
  • vitamin K
  • Cat tranquilizer
  • jet k
  • purple
  • cat valium
  • kit kat
  • super acid
Application of ketamine in medicine

Ketamine is used as an anesthetic for minor surgeries. It is an antidepressant and hence, used for treating depression and anxiety, but doctors prefer prescribing standard antidepressants due to ketamine’s hallucinating properties. Ketamine is scarcely seen to be used in treating social anxiety disorder. Ketamine works as an analgesic too, which helps to get relief from chronic pains like fractures, abdominal pains, arm or leg pain, lower back pain, etc. It is used in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorders, and even OCD nowadays.

Also Read: 10 Psychiatric Conditions you may have never heard of

Ketamine manages the pain caused by nerve damage. It is found to be having an anti-tumor effect. Ketamine is also called as ‘vet medicine’ as it helps in treating animals to some of the methods commonly used for the intake of ketamine in our body Ketamine can be administered Intravenously directly in veins which later gets circulated in the whole body by blood or it can be transferred in the muscle through injections. With the help of a catheter, ketamine is administered into epidural spaces.

These are the effects of ketamine drug on a person
  1. Drowsiness: ketamine intake makes people feel tired.
  2. Dizziness: ketamine may induce fainting sensations or feeling unsteady and weak
  3. Sleepy: Ketamine makes people want to sleep or leads to dream-like feeling
  4. Amnesia: people tend to forget things for a while after taking this drug as there is memory loss.
  5. Nauseous: Ketamine induces vomiting sensations and makes people feel nauseous, and have difficulty breathing too
  6. Impaired judgment: ketamine affects the capability of judging and may lead to disorientation.
  7. Increased salivation: ketamine intake leads to excess mouth-watering
  8. Swelling: persistent swelling of body parts like lips, tongue, face, or throat can be seen after taking a ketamine dose.

Prevalence of the drug in individuals

Although no significant difference is seen by race or income status, it has been shown that males of age 26-34 use the drug more often than females. This drug has been more prevalent in males who are college students. Gay men were more likely to report use of drugs. Women who had previously used cocaine were 30 times more likely be seen taking ketamine.

Some Precautions or trigger warnings to keep in mind before using ketamine

Use ketamine only if prescribed by the doctors and that too in lower quantity because of its hallucinating properties and the side effects like amnesia, dizziness, nausea, confusion, skin rashes or hives, itching, etc. To prioritize people’s safety and uphold public safety standards, individuals must strictly refrain from driving vehicles for a minimum of 24 hours after consuming ketamine.. This precaution is due to the lack of control, feelings of drowsiness, and confusion that people often experience after consuming ketamine, which can lead to car accidents.

The researchers noted the heart rates before and after the intake of ketamine and found that ketamine increases the heart rate, leading to an elevation in blood pressure and subsequently increasing the cardiac output. So, before administering ketamine to patients or any individual, it is advised to make sure that they are not having any such conditions which may lead to high Blood pressure or have untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure as it may lead to aneurysm, aortic tear, heart attack.

Ketamine should not be given to schizophrenic patients and pregnant women’s or those who are breastfeeding as it may lead to abnormal brain development in young children or unborn baby that later affects the learning and behavior in them. Ketamine should not be given to those who drink large amount of alcohol and it is very dangerous to consume ketamine mixed with alcohol as alcohol is a depressant itself, which slows down the body mechanism and when taken along with ketamine, it could make situation worse.

Also Read: Psychedelics: Proved As a Mental Health Treatment

Using ketamine for a prolonged period of time May lead to complexities

It may lead to staying in a state of delirium for longer durations, followed by anxiety and depression. ketamine Addiction largely impacts mental as well as physical health and leads to the deterioration of life. You’ll feel fatigued quite often. There are constant changes in neurotransmitter levels, mainly serotonin and dopamine. These are also called happy hormones, which keep you motivated. Ketamine increases the level of these hormones and will continue to motivate you to take more of them, which leads to an increase in your tolerance level for the drug. That’s how people get addicted. In addition to that, ketamine’s painkilling and anaesthetic properties make it addictive.

People keep taking drugs to silence their inner voices, saying, ‘Come on, it’s time; let’s have some fun by escaping reality for a while.’ They get so dependent on drugs for pleasure and to seek satisfaction that they lose the ability to distinguish between what’s wrong and right. Long-term usage of ketamine leads to memory loss, mood swings, confusion, paranoia, and a reduced attention span for an individual. They can’t seem to concentrate on specific things for an extended period of time. If taken through the intranasal mode of administration, ketamine may affect the nasal passage, and if injected, it may lead to damage to veins, muscles, nerves, and the skin. The addiction won’t let you live a normal life as you lead earlier and may lead to heart failure, organ damage, etc.

Note: We do not promote or endorse the use of any kind of drugs or other substances. If you require mental health treatment, we strongly advise seeking professional help.

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