Frequently Asked Questions About Ketamine

The antidepressant qualities of ketamine were discovered by two Yale researchers in the 1990s, though the research wasn’t published until the 2000s. By 2012, ketamine clinics were beginning to offer these innovative treatments off-label to those suffering from severe mental health disorders. And today you can hardly read a newspaper or magazine without coming across an article about the benefits of ketamine treatments for depression and chronic pain.

Of course, despite all the positive research and information that is available, there are still many misconceptions about ketamine for depression. Here you’ll find answers to our ketamine infusion faqs (frequently asked questions) about ketamine treatments and what to expect when you begin your journey.

Is ketamine treatment safe?

Ketamine has been an FDA-approved drug for about 50 years. It is approved for use as an anesthetic and analgesic medication and is considered an essential medication by the World Health Organization. In the right hands, ketamine is a very safe medication. As an antidepressant, ketamine alleviates symptoms in up to 70% of patients.

As a chronic pain solution, ketamine can provide relief for up to 6-months. However, while ketamine is highly effective for the treatment of depression and chronic pain, it is not FDA-approved for these uses. Even though it is not an FDA-approved treatment, it is legal for private ketamine clinics, like ours, to offer ketamine infusion therapy. When administered by a qualified anesthesiologist, physician, clinician, or psychiatrist, ketamine is safe, highly effective, and rapid-acting.

Is ketamine a recreational drug?

Many important medications are, unfortunately, abused for recreational purposes. Historically, ketamine has been used recreationally. When used recreationally, ketamine is ingested in much higher doses than would ever be administered at a ketamine clinic in a therapeutic setting. Ketamine is administered safely every day—not just for the treatment of depression and chronic pain, but as an alternative anesthetic and an emergency analgesic. In the wrong hands, however, ketamine can be abused.

Tahoe Ketamine is acutely aware of the risk of abuse and takes extraordinary measures to ensure the medication doesn’t make it into the wrong hands. We do not provide patients with take-home ketamine prescriptions—all ketamine infusions are performed in our clinic, under close clinical supervision.

Could I become addicted to ketamine?

Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically addicting substance. Used in a recreational setting, it can become psychologically addicting. When administered for depression treatment or chronic pain management, it is used in much smaller doses than what would be needed to achieve a recreational “high.” The chances that a patient would become psychologically addicted to ketamine infusions are slim.

However, Tahoe Ketamine takes the risk of addiction seriously. We screen all patients prior to their first infusion to assess their potential for addiction and/or abuse. We take great care to keep all ketamine within our clinic walls and ensure that it never makes it into the wrong hands.

Will ketamine treatment work for me?

Ketamine is an effective antidepressant for up to 70% of patients. Where traditional antidepressants are able to alleviate symptoms in only about 40% of patients, ketamine’s results are truly remarkable. Every patient experiences the effects of ketamine differently: some patients feel an immediate shift in their symptoms, while the fog lifts slowly but steadily for others. We cannot say how you will respond to ketamine infusion therapy, or if you will respond—but with a 70% success rate, the chances are good. 

How do I get started? What should I expect during my first infusion?

The first step is to determine if you are a candidate for ketamine infusions. If we decide that you are, we’ll ask you to complete our patient intake forms. You will need your primary care or mental health physician’s signature on some of these forms. Upon receipt of your patient intake forms, we’ll schedule your initial consultation. At your consultation, we’ll review your symptoms, explain the process, and answer any questions you may have. In some cases, it’s possible to receive your first infusion on the same day as your initial consultation.

  • On the day of your first infusion, please follow these instructions:
  • Don’t eat solid foods, soup or pulpy juices for 6-hours prior to your infusion
  • Don’t eat any foods or liquids within 2-hours of your infusion time
  • Please arrive at our Tahoe ketamine clinic 15-minutes prior to your infusion time

Before your infusion, we’ll get you comfortably settled into one of our treatment rooms. We’ll apply monitors for your heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure and oxygen level. We’ll set your IV and begin the infusion. Ketamine infusions for depression typically last about 40-minutes, while ketamine for chronic pain infusions can last up to 4-hours.

Ketamine infusion side effects are often mild and short-lived, but can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Non-threatening hallucinations
  • Nausea—we can administer an anti-nausea medication should you experience this side effect

During your infusion, just relax and listen to music if you like. You will be awake and alert, able to speak with your nurse or a family member, though most patients choose to just relax.

After your ketamine infusion, we’ll monitor your vitals for about 30-minutes before releasing you into the care of a friend or family member. Please don’t drive or operate machinery for 24-hours post-infusion.

What is the recommended ketamine infusion protocol?

Research shows that ketamine infusions are most effective when administered serially over an initial two week period. During that period, 4-6 infusions are recommended. After this, patients will enter the maintenance phase. Maintenance infusions are performed on an as-needed basis depending on the symptoms of the individual patient. Some patients require weekly or bi-weekly ketamine infusions, while others may only need infusions every couple of months, or even as far as 6-months apart. 

Can I continue using my other medications?

Never discontinue the use of any medication without the explicit consent of your prescribing physician. During your initial consultation, we will review your medication list and determine any contraindications.

Could I become addicted to ketamine infusions?

While ketamine can be abused as a recreational drug, it is not a physically addicting drug. In a recreational setting, when used regularly, ketamine can become psychologically addicting. However, the amount of ketamine administered during an infusion is significantly lower than the doses that would be used in a recreational setting. The chances that a patient would become psychologically addicted to ketamine infusions are extremely low, though our ketamine clinic takes great measures to prevent addiction and ensure that ketamine never makes it into the wrong hands.

Contact us for more information about our IV Therapies at 530-208-9355 or by filling out the contact form below.

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