Ketamine Use and Withdrawal
A certain street drug has become the “star” of rave parties everywhere and has rapidly gained popularity in party circuits. It gradually entangles you in its grip till you reach a point of no return. We are talking about the “feel good” drug Ketamine; and if your idea of a “exciting” social circle or “happening” nightlife is incomplete without it, you know you need help to quit.
The “high” and the false sense of a blissful existence for a short period could be dangerous, as Ketamine is an anesthetic that veterinarians use. It is important to seek professional help right away! While we realize that it is easier to keep enjoying the highs, rather than go through the withdrawal and cravings associated with quitting, outpatient detox that causes minimal disruption to your everyday life and is more palatable.
We have tried to highlight the dangers of ketamine withdrawal symptoms and treatment to cope with the same. Seeking a substance abuse evaluation at a minimum is important in such conditions. We also have some thoughts on where to turn to seek help and access detox in New Jersey in order to come off of the drug safely.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a synthetic compound used as an anesthetic by veterinarians.
Ketamine, a club drug, is a dissociative anesthetic because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. In short, it provides hallucinogenic, tranquilizing and disassociative effects.
Individuals who abuse ketamine either snort it or orally ingest it. It is odorless and tasteless and it can be added to beverages without being detected. Ketamine can cause dream-like states and hallucinations.
The FDA has approved ketamine, in a lower dose than what causes a high, to treat depression that is resistant to existing antidepressants.
Symptoms of Ketamine Withdrawal
Common withdrawal symptoms of ketamine include agitation, confusion, psychosis (including hallucination and delusion), loss of motor skills, rage, nausea, decrease in respiratory and cardiac functions, shakes, loss of hearing, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. Users become more emotionally unstable during the withdrawal process and may require isolation.
It can also cause dissociation – causes a person to feel detached from reality. Lower-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; at even higher doses, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.
Over time, the body stops responding to the same amounts of ketamine due to tolerance and the user has to ingest larger doses for the desired effect. Many frequent and chronic users develop a psychological dependence on ketamine as well apart from physical dependence.
Why seek a Substance Abuse Evaluation?
A thorough psycho-social-substance abuse evaluation allows the clinical team to identify the severity of an individual’s abuse of the drug, the extent to which psychological issues contributed to experimentation with the drug, and the social construct that permitted or introduced the abuse of the drug. Extended abuse of any drug affects the individual’s physical and mental health and relationships; it may even lead to a person engaging in risky activities and/or posing a risk to others around him/her.
The purpose of a Substance Abuse Disorder Assessment serves several purposes:
- Determining whether an individual has an issue with addiction at all
- Assessing the extent or magnitude of a person’s addiction to a particular substance
- Discerning whether an individual is suffering from any co-occurring disorders, medical, or psychological
- Understanding the impact of substance abuse had on the individual’s life
A thorough assessment allows the clinicians to customize medication protocols and tailor therapy to individual needs. Withdrawal scales are also part of the evaluation that helps to quantify the degree of withdrawal the individual is experiencing. It also help to ensure the individual is placed in the appropriate level of care. Outpatient drug treatment should be the first preference unless the individual is in psychosis, suffers from serious underlying medical issues or has a very unstable living environment.
How the Detox Process Helps with Withdrawal
When the abuse of drugs or alcohol is above average-to-severe, stopping use suddenly usually causes withdrawal symptoms. In that case, the first step in addiction treatment should be detoxification. In a clinical setting, detoxification is performed using medications that directly address withdrawal symptoms and psychological issues associated with stopping use, such as anxiety or depression.
Intense cravings can also be mitigated in this process. It is important to detox in a clinical setting, as, apart from supporting medications, monitoring by nurses and physicians can prevent untoward medical events such as seizure or stroke. It is the safest option. Significant psychological issues are a big part of withdrawal from Ketamine and they need to be managed.
Programs offered at detox facilities provide medication assisted treatment, MAT, that includes talk therapy that provide coping mechanisms against triggers and relapse prevention skills. Additionally, such programs address psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Various modalities of behavioral therapies are integrated into the treatment plan as ketamine dependence has aspects of psychological addiction. These therapies could range from support groups to studying behavioral aspects or thought patterns of patients, such as:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT: It is used to understand and analyze the thoughts and manners of individuals that affect behaviors and lead to a relapse
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT: It introduces stress management and mindful awareness
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT: It is a combination of commitment and behavior-change strategies with mindfulness and acceptance therapies
- Educational Sessions: Offer information on substance abuse and addiction
- Peer Support Groups: Offer support through treatment, accountability, and experience
- Exercise & Nutrition: The detrimental effects of substance abuse on health are countered through adequate exercise and a balanced diet and nutrition
If an individual wish to access the detoxification level of care from home, they can explore outpatient detox programs that utilize evidence-based treatment approaches and deliver better outcomes. And, think about it, inpatient treatment only perpetuates the stigma around addiction treatment because it is based on the behavioral model – addiction is a behavioral problem and the individual needs to be isolated from society in order to learn better behaviors, much like incarceration.
We all know that addiction is a disease, and not a moral failing or behavioral problem, but many treatment providers still view addiction as a behavioral problem and choose to recommend inpatient treatment. If you are looking for contemporary addiction treatment, such as outpatient detox in New Jersey, get in touch with and we can help you turn your life around. To get started with treatment, please call us immediately.