In this article, I’m going to discuss the topic of using ketamine for opiate withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal is a horrific experience and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Back when I used to be addicted to opiates, I was always searching online for opiate withdrawal remedies that could alleviate my symptoms.
One day I ran out of opiates and none of my dealers had any for sale (and this happened frequently!).
They were all out, and I was desperate.
So I texted everyone I knew that could potentially have or be able to get Valium or any other benzodiazepine, as I knew those worked well for me, having used them several times in the past for opiate withdrawal.
But I couldn’t find squat.
Then a friend texted me back and said that while he didn’t have any benzos…
He did, in fact, have ketamine.
“Thanks… but I’m good!” I said.
I had heard stories from friends about using ketamine and them “falling into a K Hole”.
This is slang for the phenomenon of taking too much ketamine (which is a dissociative hallucinogen) and losing all awareness of the world around you and even your own self.
That always sounded scary and psychologically disturbing to me.
So I passed on the ketamine…
But little did I know back then that a small dose of ketamine would’ve alleviated my soon-to-come opiate withdrawal symptoms.
I’m certainly not recommending using ketamine illegally without a doctor in this article, but I do intend to share the reasons why ketamine can ameliorate opiate withdrawal symptoms.
And I’ll do this by sharing the results and conclusions of a case report and a research study investigating the use of ketamine for opiate withdrawal relief.
Thus, let’s begin by going over the basics on what ketamine is.
Table of Contents
Ketamine, sold under the brand name Ketalar among others, is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia.
It induces a trance-like state while also providing:
- Loss of Memory
- Relief of Pain
As an anesthetic, ketamine is commonly used for a variety of medical procedures.
Here are the most common uses of ketamine for anesthesia:
- Anesthesia in children, as the sole anesthetic for minor procedures or as an induction agent followed by muscle relaxant and tracheal intubation.
- Asthmatics or people with chronic obstructive airway disease.
- As a sedative for physically painful procedures in emergency departments.
- Emergency surgery in field conditions in war zones.
- To supplement spinal or epidural anesthesia/analgesia using low doses.
Ketamine in the Treatment of Opiate Withdrawal
In a research study from 2006, researchers wanted to find out if ketamine could reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms due to its N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonistic effects.
Here is a direct quote from this study: “A total of 58 opiate-dependent patients were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Patients underwent rapid opiate antagonist induction under general anesthesia. Prior to opiate antagonist induction patients were given either placebo (normal saline) or subanesthetic ketamine infusion of 0.5 mg/kg/h.
RESULTS: Altogether, 50 patients were included in the final analysis. Ketamine group presented better control of withdrawal symptoms.
CONCLUSION: Subanesthetic ketamine infusion was an effective adjuvant in the correction of acute precipitated opiate withdrawal.”
In a case report from 2016, researchers presented the case of a woman with severe lombo-sciatic pain and opioid addiction. For her treatment, the woman was given ketamine just before opioid reduction.
According to the study: “In this way, the combination of ketamine and opioid treatments reduced lumbosacral pain, and the use of ketamine counteracted withdrawal signs due to opioid reduction.
Furthermore, we showed that ketamine could help patients lower their consumption of opioid medication with good tolerance levels, even if they present addictive disorders.
It could be another way of dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms in patients suffering from opioid addictive behaviors.”
The conclusion of the case study stated: “All in all, ketamine displays many interesting qualities for dealing with all physical and psychological symptoms relating to opioid withdrawal.
Accordingly, we propose that ketamine could be used instead of many psychotropic treatments for helping with opioid withdrawal, and, in this way, might be safer for patients suffering from addictive behaviors.”
In a 2006 article published in The Journal of the American Anesthesiologists, authors wrote about a 2-year-old girl that had to undergo an operation due to a medical condition. She was given a fentanyl infusion in the intensive care unit (ICU) for sedation, and after almost two months on fentanyl in the hospital, the doctors tried to taper her off.
However, the conventional slow taper approach did not work and the poor little girl still had withdrawal symptoms. Thus, the child was given ketamine.
According to the article, “Ketamine, a noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist, was initiated at 10 mg/h. Fentanyl was successfully discontinued with this technique without any withdrawal symptoms. The rationale for use of ketamine for opioid withdrawal is as follows:
It has been demonstrated that NMDA receptor antagonists attenuate the occurrence of opioid physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms in adult humans and ketamine has been reported to reduce opioid withdrawal–evoked hyperexcitation in electroencephalographic power spectra in adult humans.”
Ketamine — like many drugs — can cause dependence and addiction. Many ketamine users have become addicted and even physiologically dependent.
The withdrawal symptoms from a cold-turkey ketamine detox are not life-threatening, though they are very unpleasant, and can cause significant physical and psychological agony.
Where Can I Get Ketamine Treatment for Opiate Withdrawal?
There are a growing number of private practice physicians that are using low-dose ketamine for the treatment of opiate withdrawal and also for depression.
It’s more common for depression, as this is a hot trend right now.
But I’ve also found doctors promoting the use of ketamine for opiate withdrawal symptoms relief on their websites.
Being treated by a competent doctor is the way to go if you’re interested in using ketamine for opiate withdrawal.
Don’t try it at home as it’s illegal and dangerous.
If you have any comments or questions on the use of ketamine for opiate withdrawal, please post them in the comment box below.
Take good care of yourself.