As some of you probably know Ketamine is a dissociative drug, increasingly common in the rave and club scene. It was originally developed, and is still used as a anesthetic, in both human and veterinary medicine. It is also increasingly widely being used “off-label” by doctors and researchers to treat severe chronic pain, depression, and addiction.
A couple of weeks ago NPR ran a week long series and depression, and featured to segments on the use of Ketamine to treat depression. see: Could A Club Drug Offer ‘Almost Immediate’ Relief From Depression?
‘I Wanted To Live’: New Depression Drugs Offer Hope For Toughest Cases
Really- the aspect I find most fascinating, is just how little we still understand. While the results of the Ketamine treatments for Depression (and for severe chronic pain) are relatively short lived- about two weeks per treatment, the results are simply stunning.
The fact is for 30 years or so virtually all drugs for depression have worked on the Serotonin system. Ketamine appears to work on the glutamate system, is much more focused, and offers great insights into the biology of depression and offers, really for the first time, a path to head tend to better manage this problem.
One of the quotes from one of the NIH associated researchers stuck with me, and to paraphrase- the anti-depressants we’ve been using for decades are like turning off the water plant to deal with a leaky faucet- ketamine is like fixing the faucet.
And ultimately- this avenue of research grew out of user reports with illicit ketamine use. We are still a long way from understanding just how much illicit drug use is, or at least starts, as self-medicating.
Whether we are talking ketamine for depression, pain and addiction, LSD for cluster headaches, mdma for PTSD and end of life anxiety, psilocybin for end of life anxiety, cannabis for numerous symptons and diseases- much of this research starts with observations from illicit users.
So next time you look down at that person using drugs- remember- their experiences may just lead to improvements in your life, or that of those you love.