Ketamine Infusion
Therapy for Addiction


Reviewed by Medical Director Dr. Andrew Petersen, DO and Clinical Director Dr. Trish Henrie-Barrus, Ph.D.

Ketamine Infusion
Therapy for Addiction


Reviewed by Medical Director Dr. Andrew Petersen, DO and Clinical Director Dr. Trish Henrie-Barrus, Ph.D.

The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.

If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.


What is Ketamine?

Before getting into discussing the details of ketamine infusion therapy, let’s learn about what ketamine is. Ketamine is a widely used prescription anesthetic and pain reliever.1 Ketamine is often used as a surgical anesthetic or as a treatment option for depression or addiction. Ketamine is dissociative, meaning it creates a cognitive disconnect from reality and distorts or blocks the senses. Ketamine has been used medicinally since the 1960s.2

Ketamine Effects

Ketamine changes your mental state and produces physical effects that are usually mild. Here are some side effects:3  

  • Dulls the senses – Ketamine blocks receptors in the brain that process sight, hearing, touch, etc. Dulled pain receptors can lead to agitating an existing injury or being unable to recognize the severity of an injury attained during a ketamine high.
  • Sedation – Ketamine produces tiredness and a trance-like mental state.
  • Disassociation – Ketamine can produce audible and visual hallucinations.
  • Stomach Aches – Ketamine can cause nausea or vomiting when taken in excess.

The intensity of ketamine effects can vary based on body composition and other individual health factors. Ketamine effects are consistent regardless of how it is administered. Fatal ketamine effects are rare even in substance use disorder. Most ketamine-related fatalities include the presence of multiple drugs in the body.4

Ketamine’s Mechanism of Action

Ketamine works by:5

  • Reducing pain by binding to NMDA receptors in your central nervous system.
  • Causing hypnotic effects by blocking NDMA and activating other neurons.
  • Decreasing the effects of depression by activating neurons and building more connections in the brain.

Learn More About Healing the Brain

Treatment with a Ketamine Infusion

In 1966, medical professionals G. Corssen and E.F. Domino published the first clinical study of ketamine in humans.6 Ketamine infusion therapy was pioneered throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Before ketamine, PCP was a primary anesthetic. However, the side-effects of PCP outweighed the medicinal benefits.7 Ketamine has low to mild side effects in a hospital setting and can treat several conditions.

What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy involves a monitored injection of ketamine in a hospital setting. Ketamine therapy is heavily monitored and usually used after other treatment options failed. Ketamine infusion therapy has proven to be a useful treatment option in these cases.8 Innovative medical practices turn to ketamine sooner than practices who use older treatment options.

How Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Work?

Typically, a ketamine infusion session can last from 3-4 hours and are given 2-3 times a week for a month. A lower dose of ketamine is used for infusion than for any other medicinal uses. Clients have reported feelings of euphoria during the session. Ketamine infusion has been shown to reduce negative thoughts and suicidal idealization drastically.9
Ketamine infusion therapy provides long-lasting results.10 Many patients need no further ketamine infusions. Other patients can maintain the effects for months on end before requiring further treatment. Ketamine infusion therapy has yet to result in any appreciable ketamine addiction.11
Ketamine therapy isn’t for everyone. Individuals with unstable or aggressive cardiovascular disease may experience a severe medical event. Pregnant individuals, those with hypertension, ketamine allergy, or those with brain swelling may experience harmful effects.12
Lastly, ketamine treatment sessions begin with a drug screen. If foreign substances are found within the body, then the session will be put on hold, or the treatment method may be abandoned altogether. Individuals incapable of abstaining from recreational drugs during ketamine treatment are prescribed as an alternative method of care.

How are Ketamine Infusions Different than Ketamine Nasal Spray?

Ketamine infusions are considered IV ketamine. In contrast, the nasal spray is coined as Esketamine. However, the most significant difference between ketamine infusion and ketamine nasal spray is the apparent route of administration. Any difference in the effectiveness of the two has yet to be noted.

How Do Ketamine’s Dissociative Properties Help Heal the Brain?

Hallucinogenic drugs have proven to have a profound effect on brain chemistry.13 Medicinal use of these substances can improve mood, suppress seizures, and help rebuild neural pathways. Hallucinogens increase synaptic response time and stimulate the brain. This process improves overall brain plasticity.14 Healthy brain plasticity enhances learning ability, memory, mood, and several other cognitive functions.15

Ketamine for Addiction

One of the primary uses of ketamine is addiction treatment.15 Here are just a few of the substances that ketamine can help treat in recovery.

Ketamine for Alcohol Addiction

Medicinal ketamine and alcohol addiction follow roughly the same frequency and schedule for administration, i.e., multiple weekly sessions. Ketamine has proven to be equally effective in combating alcohol dependency as it has for other substances. Long-term alcohol abstinence has been documented following ketamine treatment.16 Ketamine, unlike other medicinal alcohol dependency treatments, doesn’t affect the GABA receptors.17

Ketamine to Reduce Cocaine Cravings

Ketamine has been shown to reduce acute cocaine cravings.18 The connection between ketamine and cocaine is still being studied. However, individuals who underwent ketamine treatment for cocaine dependency were shown to go longer between cocaine highs following infusion.

Ketamine to Improve Alcohol and Heroin Abstinence

Ketamine infusions are effective in treating alcohol and heroin abstinence.19 Patients with either dependency were able to remain abstinent for a year or more in some cases before requiring further treatment. Ketamine also helps with mental and physical withdrawals of either substance. Patients who underwent multiple ketamine infusions showed the most improvement in comparison to their single treatment counterparts. Moreover, ketamine reduces the intensity of any substance-related cravings.19

Ketamine Makes Psychological Treatment More Effective

Ketamine’s effects on mood and addiction suggest that it increases receptiveness to psychological treatment.20 For example, a patient with intense substance cravings may be unable to focus on coping mechanisms or other psychological tools. Ketamine works to subdue cravings. Furthermore, the repaired cognitive functioning brought on by the change in neural pathways plays a role in the reasoning, understanding, and commitment to overcoming psychological conditions.21

What Else Can Ketamine Therapy Treat?

Ketamine infusion is used to treat a variety of mental illnesses. In cases where traditional treatment methods fail, ketamine is proving to be effective.

Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine is an option for severe depression.22
This is due to ketamine’s mood enhancement and proven ability to reduce negative thoughts. Ketamine for depression has been shown to have long-lasting effects after multiple infusion sessions. Ketamine improves the mental state of an individual with severe depression within an hour of administration.22
Infusions of ketamine for depression are without specific side effects that may contribute to negative feelings. For example, ketamine has little to no effect on weight changes or libido.23 Both of which may be contributing factors for depression. Also, because ketamine improves cognitive function, it improves the ability to cope with and address a depressed mental state.23

Ketamine for Anxiety

Ketamine is anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing.24 Ketamine’s reduction of anxiety and other mental illness symptoms is rapid and long-lasting. Anxiety and depression affect an individual in similar ways. Much like depression, anxiety breaks down key cognitive functions. Anxiety is also responsible for high blood pressure, heart issues, and insomnia.25 Ketamine for anxiety counteracts these effects by changing the way the brain handles anxious and stressful events.24
Anxiety and stress create cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for many of the negative effects of anxiety. Ketamine for anxiety combined with talk therapy, facilitate and teach healthy coping mechanisms for stress. This lowers cortisol levels and improves overall body function.

Ketamine and Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to adapt and respond to new environments, challenges, and information.27 Neuroplasticity is a key element of cognitive functions. However, chronic substance use hardwires the brain and limits the brain’s ability to change.

Additionally, mental illness such as depression or anxiety causes an overabundance of amyloid protein in the brain. Amyloid proteins, in excess, cause a breakdown in the neural pathways.28 Amyloid proteins also increase unhealthy brain matter. Combining these two can result in limited neuroplasticity and the general feeling of mental fogginess. Ketamine for depression can address these changes.

How Does Ketamine Treatment Affect Neuroplasticity?

Dissociative drugs like Ketamine help forge new neural pathways in the brain29 Dissociative drugs force the brain to make new mental connections. Hebb’s law, a neuroscience theory, indicates that the neural stimulation brought on by ketamine can result in a cascading neural effect. Over time, this process makes it easier for the brain to form and maintain neural pathways.
The marked change in neuroplasticity is what makes ketamine so effective in treatment.30 In substance use and/or mental illness, stimulated neural pathways to allow the individual to cope, and maintain clear thought and emotion.

Ketamine Can Help You Beat Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction – you have options. Ketamine for addiction treatment is an effective method. Often, addiction is an all-consuming matter that disrupts social, work, and interpersonal activity. Recovery is a life-long journey for many. Ketamine for addiction is medically tailored to assist in that journey.

Addiction recovery begins with seeking help. With treatment options like ketamine for addiction, holistic approaches, and a support system, the odds of overcoming addiction are within reach. Recovery is within reach.



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