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Can ketamine help treat alcohol-related problems?

Can ketamine help treat alcohol-related problems?

Alcohol has got such a social acceptance that it is hardly a forbidden substance. Though it’s legal for adult consumption, alcohol is available to teenagers almost as easily as to others with hardly any legal consequences. This makes alcohol one of the most commonly abused substances. Alcohol dependence and addiction has thus become a major health threat not just in the United States of America, but all over the world.

To limit the damage caused by alcohol abuse, there have been several ongoing campaigns. Experts and scientists across the globe have been dedicatedly working to identify effective treatment methods and solutions to help those people who have developed a tolerance to alcohol. While there is a bevy of successful treatments and therapies for recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD), scientists continue to explore the benefits and hazards of using ketamine for the purpose.

KARE: A novel treatment approach using ketamine

Back in the 1980s, researchers had conducted a study where people suffering from alcohol problems received three weekly ketamine treatments in conjunction with psychological therapy. Taking a cue from that study, experts at the University of Exeter and University College, London, are now conducting a new trial – Ketamine for reduction of Alcoholic Relapse (KARE) – to measure the potential of the drug in treating alcohol-related problems.

Commonly known as a horse tranquilizer and also abused for recreational purposes, ketamine is a potent anesthetic. Some past studies have also explored its role in treating drug-related problems. According to the preliminary evidence of a study, the drug possesses potential interacting mechanisms that can enhance the neurogenesis and psychological therapies. Secondly, the drug also has the potential to reduce depressive symptoms in a risky window for addiction relapse.

Drawing from the findings of the old study, the researchers from the University of Exeter and University College London are conducting a trial wherein they administered ketamine to the respondents once a week for three weeks. Alongside, the patients also received seven sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy as additional support to their recovery treatment.  Making it different from the earlier study, the present research was placebo-controlled. Though the findings of the trial are yet to be known, the researchers are hopeful of getting a breakthrough.

While some past studies had explored the drug for its rapid and powerful antidepressant properties that could treat the depression occurring due to alcohol dependence, a laboratory research identified ketamine to be capable of promoting the growth of new neurons and connections in the brain. Therefore, it suggests that the use of the drug can be helpful in enhancing the learning and memory skills, which often gets impaired when suffering from alcohol problem or depression.

“Thus, Ketamine might make people more receptive to new information and able to plan effectively for the future, which in turn may enhance the effect of psychological therapy,” suggested the research.

Seeking help

The use of ketamine in treating alcohol-related problems in still under trials and research. Therefore, it cannot be recommended or used as a medically approved treatment. Further studies may help experts have a better idea about the possible harms and effects (short-term and long-term) that the drug can have on the user. Therefore, even though the drug may be useful in combination with other approved method and therapies, its solo use to treat a condition still does not have a validation.

Rather than self-medicating with ketamine or anything else for alcohol-related problems or subsequent depression, one should seek immediate medical help. A non-prescribed use of the drug may not only aggravate the condition but could also lead to many explored damages including mental illness, which can further lead to a condition of dual diagnosis.

If a loved one is grappling with an addiction, mental condition, or both, you can contact Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida. You can call at our 24/7 helpline at 866-337-7631 to seek assistance on dual diagnosis rehab centers near you.