There’s no such thing as a ‘safe’ drug, especially when it’s being abused recreationally. Of course, addiction isn’t a logical disease. The disease makes it difficult for people to resist substances that cause them profound harm due to the fact that the substances will make them feel euphoria. In short, addiction hijacks the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways, effectively rendering individuals helpless to self-destructive impulses. Among the many substances that exist, depressants are surely one of the most dangerous, particularly those that have dissociative traits. A prime example is a depressant known as ketamine.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many chemists were in search of new medications that would be more effective and safer for medical use. In many cases, they were searching for anesthetics and analgesics specifically, resulting in the discovery of a wide variety of substances. At times, the substances they would develop would almost immediately change the field of medical care while other substances would be ignored for years or even decades before they were put to use. Ketamine, however, falls mostly into the former category.
Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens, a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Initially, the drug was tested on animals with promising results as a fast-acting general anesthetic. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that the U.S. government approved the use of ketamine on human subjects, at which point researchers conducted trials using prisoners as test subjects. During these trials, a few notable traits became apparent: For one thing, ketamine was relatively fast-acting as well as short-acting, which are ideal traits for drugs used in surgical settings since such drugs are much easier to control. As well, ketamine caused very little ‘behavioral toxicity’ in patients, especially when compared to other drugs being used at the time.
Prior to ketamine, a drug called phencyclidine — better known as PCP — was being tested for its potential use as a fast-acting local anesthetic, but PCP notably triggered violent, aggressive, and/or delusional behavior in users. When ketamine was used for similar purposes, users displayed far less of the disturbing behaviors that PCP users had demonstrated previously, indicating a preferably alternative. Therefore, just a few years later, in 1970, the federal government officially approved ketamine for human use, at which point it became a popular medication for use on battlefield during the Vietnam War.
The first indications of nonmedical use of ketamine as well as the drug’s strong potential for abuse emerged during the late 1970s and 1980s on the West Coast. At the time, psychiatrists had begun using the drug in academic research, documenting the effects of ketamine intoxication on subjects. Meanwhile, recreational drug users had begun abusing ketamine since it could offer them a depressant-like experience with echoes of hallucinogen, which was due to ketamine’s dissociative properties. In the 1980s and beyond, ketamine actually gained a reputation as a ‘club drug’ for this very reason with some comparing ketamine to MDMA and ecstasy despite the fact that the latter two are actually stimulants.
Due to the rise in ketamine in Hong Kong’s dance culture, the drug continues to have strong associations with nightlife today. However, due to its qualities as a depressant, it’s become more common for ketamine to be used as an ‘after-club drug’, meaning that the drug helps users to ‘come down’ from the stimulants used while at bars and clubs. A major problem today is that ketamine is often sold unknowingly to users who believe they’re buying other drugs like MDMA and ecstasy. Although ketamine was made a controlled substance in the United States in 1999, it continues to be imported from overseas and remains relatively common today.
Often considered a ‘sister drug’ to PCP, ketamine is a dissociative depressant, which means that it’s both a depressant as well as a psychoactive dissociative drug; however, ketamine also acts on the brain’s opioid receptors, meaning that it also has a level of opioid-like effects, further contributing to ketamine’s complicated nature. In other words, this means that ketamine has a rather odd combination of effects. When it’s compared to other drugs by its weight, ketamine has been found to be more powerful than cocaine and speed, which makes it extremely easy for individuals to overdose on ketamine. More often than not, the drug is insufflated (inhaled through the nose) or injected, but it can also be smoked and ingested. Since it’s both colorless and odorless, it’s occasionally used as a ‘date rape drug’ in the same vain as GHB.
The effects of ketamine begin rather abruptly about five or so minutes after the drug has been imbibed (unless consumed orally, which would require more time). First, a user will notice an intense relaxation that settles throughout the body, sometimes described as a fuzziness felt throughout the body. Others have described it as an out-of-body experience or like the feeling of floating in the air. Some experience hallucinations while on ketamine, which last longer than the physical effects. As well, there are often a number of negative effects, including confusion and disorientation, intense drowsiness, and an increase in both blood pressure and heart rate.
When a person continues to use ketamine frequently over a period of time, he or she is at high risk of becoming physiologically dependent on the drug, which will mean that he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms after brief periods of time without ketamine. Some of the symptoms most characteristic of ketamine withdrawal include confusion, hallucinations and delusions, nausea, sudden and inexplicable anger, decrease in respiratory and cardiac functioning, hearing loss, intense fatigue, insomnia, and physical shaking and trembling.
It can be quite scary to be addicted to a powerful and dangerous drug like ketamine, but there are resources available for those in need. Typically, it’s recommended that an individual addicted to ketamine begin the recovery process with a detox program, which affords him or her a period of time during which to overcome the physical aspects of the addiction. Afterward, he or she can proceed to the treatment phase of recovery via an inpatient program consisting of individual psychotherapy, group sessions, life skills training, and other important components. The goal is to help each individual learn the skills and strategies necessary to achieve long-lasting sobriety by minimizing the potential of an individual relapsing and resuming the use of ketamine.
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Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.
Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today
My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!
Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
I highly recommend Coastal Detox
I highly recommend Coastal Detox