ketamine-assisted therapy

Why is the hype about Ketamine-Assisted Therapy?

assisted therapy

Nowadays, ketamine is called a psychedelic, but this was not always the case. Scientific literature overlooked ketamine’s mystical properties until recently. Nevertheless, there is a recent increase in interest in ketamine-assisted therapy as a more efficient treatment for depression than other current methods. In 2023, the University of California published an online degree course called Psychedelics and the Mind. In this course, they fully dedicated a module to ketamine, indicating a change in how we see this substance and teach others about it.

Another indicator that Ketamine is going mainstream is that In some countries of the world, going on a ketamine-assisted retreat is normal. A prediction for 2024 by travel giant indicated that many travellers are choosing to go on spiritual retreats during their vacations. This increase in the interest in ketamine as a psychedelic substance creates the need for well-informed integration coaches. This article covers the risks, benefits, and how to make the most out of your ketamine journey.

What is Ketamine?

Therapists are using ketamine, an anesthetic with psychedelic properties, as an aid for therapy. It can produce a trance state that can provoke deep changes in perception and consciousness. Ketamine blocks and NMDA receptors in the brain were first synthesized in 1962 when scientist Salvin Stevens worked on developing an alternative for PCP (angel dust). Nowadays, ketamine is increasingly linked to the treatment of stress and depression due to its capacity to increase the number and strength of connections between neurons, which researchers have connected to its antidepressant effects.

Published in The Harvard Gazette, regarding a recent study: “55% of those who received ketamine treatment experienced a sustained improvement in depressive symptoms without major side effects.”

While it’s true that ketamine can produce rapid benefits, it is also true that there can be side effects. The acute effects of the drug can cause an experience popularly called k-hole. The K-hole experience can feel alarming and could trigger a bad trip. The sensation of going into a K-hole is similar to the psychedelic experience of ego death plus the dissociative effects of ketamine. This experience can be unpleasant but it could also carry lessons and insights that can be integrated into a wholesome lifestyle.

Is Ketamine an Opioid?

No, ketamine is not an opioid. Opioid substances like heroin and morphine act on the endogenous opioid system and are effective in pain management and making the participant feel good. On the other hand, ketamine binds to receptors linked to learning and memory. The NMDA receptors are located closely to the opioid receptors on the brain cells, which contributes to the idea that ketamine is an opioid (which it isn’t).

As a low-cost drug approved by the FDA for its sedative properties, ketamine-assisted therapy has found its way into mental health clinics mainly due to its rapid antidepressant effects. Low doses of the substance seem to be easier to handle than other psychedelic substances. Bloomberg even wrote a piece about people using ketamine to increase work performance. However beneficial, the keta-therapy can be, we still have to approach it consciously and treat it with respect. People don’t realize this, but ketamine carries the potential for abuse. In light of unfortunate events like the death of TV show FRIENDS’s actor Matthew Perry whose death was associated with excessive doses of ketamine, we need to carefully go over the real risks behind the benefits of ketamine.

Before we discuss how to make the most out of your ketamine journey, let’s go over the potential for abuse and harm associated with unassisted ketamine use.

altered state

Is Ketamine Addictive?

The moderate use of the substance has not been linked to damage to the body and organs. In low doses, the effects can be relatively easy to handle and offer few significant side effects. Ketamine has not been connected with physical addiction. However, it does carry the potential for abuse because of its rapid and acute effects.

The fact that ketamine can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety quickly and consistently can lead to the misleading mentality that the drug is a way of escaping reality. Often, the most addictive quality of ketamine is the dissociative aspect of the experience, which can bring temporary psychological comfort. However, this sense of comfort is brief and meaningless when not associated with an active integration process. Speak with your integration coach and avoid falling into this pitfall.

To drive this point home, we can mention a convenient characteristic of the ketamine experience: the effects fade away as quickly as they begin. For a mental health professional, having a substance that has quick and significant effects that fade away almost completely after the session is over is amazing. However, people may abuse ketamine precisely because of how quickly they get high and how quickly this window closes. Differently from the classic psychedelics, ketamine-assisted therapy does not require one or two full days. The effects are powerful and fade quickly. In other words: a dangerously efficient tool for rapid changes of consciousness.

What is Ketamine-Assisted Therapy?

People use ketamine mainly in two ways: for doses high enough to produce a mystical experience, and for doses below the psychedelic threshold.

The participant speaks freely during ketamine-assisted psychotherapy with a low enough dose of ketamine acting as a catalyst for breakthroughs. Keeping the doses below the threshold to trigger a full-on mystical experience transforms ketamine into a booster for therapy.

On the other hand, mental health professionals are already working with ketamine as a psychedelic substance. Ketamine-assisted psychedelic therapy explores the dissociative effects of ketamine to submerge the participant in a dream-like state of altered consciousness. The person is invited to incorporate the lessons and experiences from the psychedelic journey through integration.

It is fundamental to have a professional accompany your psychedelic experiences. An integration coach can help you prepare for the journey and make sense of your experiences. Find a professional who helps you grow from your explorations while minimizing the potential risks.

Making the Most Out of Ketamine

The truth about ketamine and all other psychedelic substances is that they are not magic pills. There is no easy solution and no transformation without considerable moral effort. The process of self-improvement with psychedelics is about engaging in a bigger process of self-discovery and growth. Growing from your trips goes beyond the effects of the drug. But what does it mean to actively engage with the integration process?

Ketamine Integration Coaching

Being active in your integration means that you recognize that the real benefits of psychedelic therapy don’t manifest themselves passively. Take a moment daily to look back on your day and investigate how you got closer to your intentions. Keep an integration diary and observe how different areas of your life are suffering or benefiting from your psychedelic process. Write down about your day and every once in a while read your integration journey. Rereading your entries is a great way to keep track of your progress. Show your annotations with your integration coach and ask them to help you design a journal template that fits your journey.

People who see ketamine as a tool of escapism are up to a big surprise. Just as with other psychedelics, the therapy assisted by ketamine may have dissociative effects, but it has also been reported to create truly sacred and mystical experiences, inducing deep changes in consciousness. Ketamine use has been linked to profound alterations in the mind. This can be explained by its deep effects on neuroplasticity, and the brain’s ability to change itself. This allows the participants to see themselves from a refreshed point of view. It invites the participant to change old damaging habits for more wholesome ones. In reality, psychedelics are terrible for escapism.

Psychedelics invite the participant to look inward and face their fears and unresolved issues. Again, it is fruitful to say that having someone else accompany your psychedelic journey can help you navigate the effects of the entheogen and improve your life with the help of nature’s medicine. Browse our integration coaches and find the perfect match for your psychedelic integration.

Have we got your attention?

If you feel like ketamine-assisted therapy is for you, or you have questions, or you have done ketamine and need to process your experience, book one of our coaches.

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