What Does Ketamine Do To Your Brain?

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

What Does Ketamine Do To Your Brain?

Originally developed as an anaesthetic, more and more people have begun taking ketamine recreationally. However, ketamine abuse can be dangerous and can increase the risk of addiction.

Ketamine abuse can have a range of short and long-term effects, affecting your physical and mental health. But what are the main effects of ketamine, and how does it impact your brain chemistry?

That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog post. Read on to learn more about ketamine and its potential effects. We’ll also be discussing ketamine addiction and how you can seek support.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine’s first intended use was as a veterinary anaesthetic but is now used in the medical field too.

It is a dissociative drug that has stimulant and psychoactive properties, which is why it is commonly abused by those seeking mind-altering effects.

When taken recreationally, ketamine is also known as ‘Special K’, ‘K’ and ‘Ket’. The drug typically has a grainy white or brown crystalline powder appearance when sold on the street. However, in medical settings, the drug has a clear liquid appearance.

Why Do People Take Ketamine?

People may take ketamine for medical reasons, or they may take it recreationally. It’s important to note that taking ketamine without medical approval can be dangerous.

Ketamine abuse can have a range of negative effects on your physical health and mental health, and you should always seek medical advice before taking the drug.

Medical Uses

Some medical applications of ketamine include pain relief and general anaesthetic. For pain relief, low doses of ketamine may be administered to relieve pain from trauma, fractures, abdominal pain, and low back pain.

However, doctors may also prescribe ketamine for “off-label” uses, including depression. It is important to note that this is not approved by the FDA.

Ketamine treatment is not licensed for depression in the UK, but doctors may prescribe ketamine as an ‘off-label’ treatment for mental health disorders such as treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine therapy typically involves three to six doses of ketamine over the span of three to six weeks. Roughly 50% of patients respond well to this treatment.

Because of ketamine’s antidepressant effects, some people take ketamine to self-medicate. Ketamine could potentially provide relief from psychological symptoms of depression and mood disorders.

However, this relief is short-lived and may lead to you taking higher doses of ketamine as time goes on. If you plan on using ketamine as a treatment for depression, you should always seek medical advice.

Recreational Uses

Ketamine is a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This means that it is illegal to use recreationally. However, this doesn’t stop people from doing so. Many people take ketamine to experience the dissociative and dream-like effects of ketamine.

In England and Wales, around 2.9% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 take ketamine recreationally.

Because of its mind-altering and sedative effects, ketamine has also been used as a “date rape” drug.

In some cases, people take ketamine due to dependence. Ketamine can be an addictive drug, and the more you abuse ketamine, the higher the risk of addiction. If you’re struggling to control your ketamine use, our team at Help4Addiction are here to help.

Short-Term Effects of Ketamine on the Brain

Ketamine has a range of immediate effects on your brain. For example, it can leave you feeling relaxed, confused and detached.

It can also alter perceptions of time and space, and cause hallucinations. This means you may see or hear things that are not there.

Typically, it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to feel the effects after taking ketamine, with the effects lasting for around an hour on average.

The drug works by activating prefrontal cortex glutamate neurotransmission. At high doses, this slows down the communications in your brain regions, which is why it is frequently used as a sedative.

However, at low doses, ketamine can increase glutamate levels. This can lead to hallucinations and dissociative effects. If you mix ketamine with alcohol or abuse ketamine heavily, you could also be at risk of a ketamine overdose.

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine on the Brain

Ketamine’s effects on the brain can be lasting - over time, ketamine can lead to structural brain changes. When abused for long periods, ketamine can lead to low grey matter volume in the brain, and impact white matter integrity.

Ketamine use can also affect dopamine levels, and alter innervations of striatum, prefrontal and sensory cortices.

These long-term changes in the brain can lead to memory impairment and other long-term cognitive effects.

Some other long-term effects of ketamine abuse may include anxiety, depression, mood swings, confusion, paranoia, insomnia and increased blood pressure.

Seek Support for Ketamine Addiction

If you are struggling to control your ketamine use, our team at Help4Addiction are here to help.

Addiction to ketamine affects all areas of your life. It can impact your relationships, finances, health and general well-being. Seeking help is the best step you can take.

Some signs of ketamine addiction include a lack of control over your ketamine use, having the desire to stop taking ketamine but struggling to do so, experiencing ketamine cravings, withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop taking ketamine, neglecting responsibilities and prioritising ketamine use.

At Help4Addiction, we can connect you with the most suitable ketamine addiction treatment for you. Whether you’re looking for detoxification, therapy, or a comprehensive treatment plan, trust our team to select the best option for you.

Likewise, if you’re looking for an affordable rehab clinic, a luxury rehab clinic, or an inpatient or online treatment program, we can secure you a spot. Begin your recovery from ketamine dependence with Help4Addiction today.

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