Ketamine Seizures Increase in the US as Drug Gains Popularity for Mental Health Treatment
A new letter published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals that US authorities have seized more illegal ketamine in recent years, coinciding with the drug’s rising popularity as a treatment for mental health ailments. The number of ketamine seizures by federal, state, and local law enforcement in the US increased from 55 in 2017 to 247 in 2022, while the total weight increased by more than 1,000 percent over that time. Most of the ketamine was in powder form, which could raise the risk of being adulterated with deadly drugs like fentanyl.
The lead author of the letter, Joseph Palamar, an associate professor at NYU Langone, sees the trend of seizures as evidence of greater recreational demand for ketamine. According to Palamar, ketamine enjoys a much larger public profile now than when it was mostly limited to electronic dance music clubs in the 1990s. Now ketamine shows up in popular television shows such as HBO’s “The White Lotus” and is openly mentioned by celebrities as a breakthrough mental health medication. Clinics have sprung up across the country offering infusions of ketamine, while some doctors and telehealth start-ups have prescribed it in lozenge form for use at home.
Ketamine has long been used as an anesthetic in hospitals and abused recreationally for its mind-altering properties. But it has emerged in recent years as a powerful, quick-acting antidote to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. A variant of ketamine called Spravato was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019 to treat severe depression, but that came with a strict risk protocol to ensure patient safety.
Many patients have been put off by hurdles to accessing Spravato, and physicians who see generic ketamine as safe and effective routinely prescribe it off-label. Some see Spravato as an example of a pharmaceutical company seeking financial gains by patenting a derivative of a compound known to be safe, and some who favor off-label ketamine are distrustful of Big Pharma.
Palamar, who reported no fees from the pharmaceutical industry, said he doesn’t want to be overly alarmist but worries about the purity of ketamine that people are getting illicitly. In the club scene in the early 1990s, he said, all ketamine came in vials stolen from veterinary offices. Now that it is coming in powder form, “it means you never truly know what’s in it,” he said. “My biggest concern is someone is going to think it’s a smart idea to mix fentanyl in it.”
The research in the JAMA letter draws only tentative conclusions, nodding to limitations on drug testing and purity and possible shifts in policing and trafficking methods that could affect the data. “Prevention and harm reduction efforts are needed to protect the public as nonmedical use many continue to increase in tandem with media coverage and therapeutic use,” the letter concludes.
In conclusion, while ketamine has shown promising results in treating mental health ailments, the rising recreational demand for the drug has led to an increase in seizures by authorities. As the drug becomes more popular, it is important to ensure that individuals are receiving pure and safe ketamine, rather than potentially adulterated versions that could be harmful or deadly. Harm reduction and prevention efforts are necessary to protect the public as the nonmedical use of ketamine continues to increase.
- Ketamine therapy
- Mental health treatment
- Illicit ketamine use
- Depression treatment
- Substance abuse and ketamine
News Source : Daniel Gilbert
Source Link :With ketamine creating buzz as a mental health treatment, illicit use rises/