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Ketamine is a medication that is used to induce loss of consciousness, or anesthesia. It can produce relaxation and relieve pain in humans and animals. It is a class III scheduled drug and is approved for use in hospitals and other medical settings as an anesthetic. Off-label uses of drugs are uses that are not approved by the the United States, U. Ketamine is safe to use in controlled, medical practice, but it has abuse potential.
Used outside the approved limits, its adverse mental and physical health effects can be hazardous. Prolonged use can lead to tolerance and psychological addiction. Ketamine belongs to a class of drugs known as dissociative anesthetics. It is also known as Ketalar, Ketanest, and Ketaset. Other drugs in this category include the hallucinogen, phencyclidine PCP , dextromethorphan DXM , and nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.
These types of drugs can make a person feel detached from sensations and surroundings, as if they are floating outside their body. Ketamine is most often used in veterinary medicine. In humans, it can induce and maintain general anesthesia before, during, and after surgery. For medical purposes, ketamine is either injected into a muscle or given through an intravenous IV line. It is considered safe as an anesthetic, because it does not reduce blood pressure or lower the breathing rate. The fact that it does not need an electricity supply, oxygen, or highly trained staff makes it a suitable option in less wealthy countries and in disaster zones.
It has been used in a hospital setting to control seizures in patients with status epilepticus SE , a type of epilepsy that can lead to brain damage and death. However, researchers point out that ketamine is normally used for this purpose after 5 to 6 other options have proven ineffective.
In , researchers found that a ketamine infusion ificantly reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD in 41 patients who had undergone a range of traumas. Researchers are looking into other possible medical uses of ketamine, particularly in the areas of treatment-resistant depression, suicide prevention, and substance use disorders. However, this use is controversial.
They call for open debate, more research, and for doctors to try all other options first, before prescribing ketamine. The National Institutes of Health NIH are currently supporting research into whether ketamine may help people with treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine use can have a wide variety of adverse effects, including :. It can also lead to a loss of appetite, upset stomach , and vomiting. When used as an anesthetic in humans, doctors combine it with another drug to prevent hallucinations. Ketamine is considered relatively safe in medical settings, because it does not affect the protective airway reflexes, and it does not depress the circulatory system, as other anesthetic medications do.
However, some patients have reported disturbing sensations when awakening from ketamine anesthesia. Ketamine can cause an increase in blood pressure and intracranial pressure, or pressure in the brain. Some people may have an allergy to the ingredients. Patients with any type of allergy should tell their doctor before using any medication.
Anyone who is using this drug for therapeutic purposes on a regular basis should have regular blood pressure checks. Ketamine is most often used in the dance club setting as a party drug. It produces an abrupt high that lasts for about an hour. Hallucinations, similar to those experienced with LSD, are common.
In , 1. This was down from , when 2. It is taken orally as a pill, snorted, smoked with tobacco or marijuana, or mixed into drinks. Most often, it is cooked into a white powder for snorting. Taken orally, it can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Regardless of how it is ingested, its effects begin within a few minutes and last for less than an hour. Some users seek out this type of transcendental experience, while others find it terrifying and consider it an adverse effect.
Unwanted effects include :. As the user can become oblivious to their environment, ketamine abuse puts the person at risk of accidental injury to themselves and vulnerable to assault by others. Problems with co-ordination, judgment, and the physical senses can continue for up to 24 hours.
If an individual is using ketamine in a recreational setting, a sober friend should remain with them to ensure their safety. Long-term effects include bladder and kidney problems, stomach pain, and memory loss. If addiction and dependence develop, there is also a risk of depression. Frequent, illegal use of ketamine can lead to serious mental disorders and major physical harm to the bladder, known as ketamine-induced ulcerative cystitis. Ketamine toxicity alone is unlikely to lead to death, according to the WHO.
However, combining it with other substances, such as alcohol, can increase the sedative effects, possibly leading to a fatal overdose. In the U. Ketamine is a Class III controlled substance. Prolonged use can cause dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms. Quitting can lead to depression, anxiety , insomnia , and flashbacks. Ketamine is an anesthetic drug, used in human and veterinary medicine.
It is important to distinguish the valid medical uses from the non-medical, recreational use of the drug. When properly administered by a trained medical professional, ketamine is a safe and valuable medication. Used in recreational settings, however, ketamine abuse can produce unpredictable physical and mental health . In the long term, it can lead to psychological damage and, in some cases, death.
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