Ketamine is proven to beat alcoholism

Ketamine is originally a drug, derived from phencyclidine, used as a general anesthetic in human and animal medicine. It comes in the form of a white crystalline powder, a liquid or a tablet or capsule. Legitimately used for medical purposes, researchers at the University of Exeter have attributed it to another therapeutic use, currently being tested in a phase II trial called “Ketamine for Reduction of Alcohol Relapse (KARE)”. The latter is the first of its kind to examine whether a low dose of ketamine can help people with severe alcohol disorders. to avoid relapses when they follow psychological therapy in parallel.

“Currently, there are few effective treatments for severe alcoholism, which has a devastating impact on life. The KARE trial was the first trial to compare ketamine with and without therapy in any mental health context, ”explain the researchers whose trial was conducted in collaboration with Awakn Life Sciences, an American biotech. The results which have just been published in the “American Journal of Psychiatry” indicate that the risk of relapse in the group of participants who received ketamine plus psychotherapy at six months was 2.7 times lower in the risk of relapse for those who received placebo and alcohol cessation education.

Reduced alcohol consumption over several months

Concretely, the scientific team discovered that the people who received of ketamine in combination with psychological treatment remained completely sober for 162 out of 180 days during the six-month follow-up period. These patients also had milder depression after three months of treatment and better liver function than those on placebo. “This is extremely encouraging, as we normally see three in four people resume binge drinking within six months of stopping alcohol, so this result represents a great improvement. », Adds Celia Morgan, head of the KARE trial.

Prior to the trial, participants drank daily, consuming on average the equivalent of 50 pints of strong beer per week. But those having received ketamine and therapy drank beyond recommended guidelines for only five days total during the average six-month trial period. “The number of alcohol-related deaths has doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means new treatments are needed more than ever. The use of ketamine in alcoholics had raised concerns due to liver problems, but the study shows that it is safe and well tolerated in clinical conditions. », Adds Professor Morgan.

The key: reconsider your relationship with alcohol

The treatment consisted of receiving three infusions ketamine over three weeks with a final therapy session in the fourth week. Since this was a phase II clinical trial to primarily test the safety and feasibility of the treatment, the scientific team wants to conduct a study on a larger sample of participants to confirm its effects on people for which existing treatments do not work. “We do not advocate take ketamine outside of a clinical setting. It is the combination of a low dose and the right psychological therapy that is key, as is the expertise and support of clinical staff. “

Why that therapy proven to be effective ? The testimonies of the participants show that a very low dose of ketamine induces a feeling of being outside the body which can stimulate a “state of observer” similar to that described in mindfulness, to step back and reconsider one’s thoughts. and emotions. An experience that helps them change their relationship with alcohol. “Because ketamine is a licensed drug, we can offer this treatment now in our clinics and through partnerships, which represents a sea change in the treatment industry. alcohol addiction. », Concludes Anthony Tennyson, CEO of Awakn.

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