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Ketamine Being Tested to Treat Alcoholism

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

The United Kingdom’s NHS is proceeding with phase-three testing of whether ketamine-assisted therapy could help combat alcohol addiction. After a promising first two rounds of testing, researchers report that this testing “builds on a positive result” from earlier phases of the trial, called KARE - Ketamine for Reduction of Alcohol Relapse.

The lead trial professor, Celia Morgan of the University of Exeter, noted that alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom have doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telling press that new treatments are needed "more urgently than ever."

Key results from previous phases of the KARE study showed that at their six-month follow-up, participants who had ketamine combined with therapy stayed 87% sober overall, making ketamine participants a whopping 2.5 times more likely to remain sober than those in the trial on placebo.

The new phase of the trial is being conducted among 280 people with “severe alcohol abuse,” with researchers planning to segment the groups with half given ketamine at the regular dose (with talk therapy), and the other half a minimal ketamine dose.

This study from England is not the first documenting the effective treatment ketamine infusion therapy can provide to combat addiction. One study conducted in 2018 at the Medical University of South Carolina suggested ketamine infusion therapy can reduce cravings to use various substances, not just alcohol.

Further, a 2019 report from Nature Communications states that ketamine can reduce severe drinking by essentially rewiring the brain. The process disrupts maladaptive reward memories (MRMs), which are commonly found in those with overconsumption or addiction issues, by targeting the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain.

What else is ketamine infusion used for?

Ketamine infusions can improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. While technically an off-label use for the anesthetic, when provided in a clinical setting under physician care, infusions are safe, legal, and generally produce little to mild side effects.

If you’re interested in exploring ketamine infusion therapy in the DMV, contact Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers. Our highly-rated private practices have locations in Bethesda, Rockville, Columbia, Vienna, Reston, and Marshall, and our compassionate care team is ready to support the next step of your mental health journey. Contact us today.

The featured image used in this article is owned by Uday Mittal.

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