Myths About Ketamine

illustration for myths about ketamine

Ketamine is a powerful drug that has been misunderstood by society for some time now. It was first synthesized in 1962, but its broader therapeutic potential is only now becoming more widely known. 
Let’s debunk some of the myths that have popped up about ketamine in the intervening years…

Myth #1 – Ketamine is dangerous

Any controlled substance can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Ketamine has been used safely for decades. In fact, ketamine is frequently used as an anesthetic for children precisely because of its safety.
When a pediatric surgeon operates on a child, it is common that the child has been sedated using ketamine. These are usually doses much higher than what’s used on adults undergoing psychedelic therapy.

Myth #2: Ketamine is a horse tranquilizer

This is true, but it’s also misleading. While ketamine is used by veterinarians to sedate horses (as well as cats and dogs), it’s not the only drug that is regularly prescribed across species.
There are some 300 drugs approved for humans and animals alike. Some of these include penicillin, aspirin, and other extremely common medications.
Ketamine is not just a horse tranquilizer, but also a sedative for children. One of the main reasons ketamine is used on horses and children is because these populations cannot give reliable feedback. It is safer than opioids which can cause respiratory failure within a more narrow dose range.

Myth #3: Ketamine is highly addictive

Ketamine is less addictive than caffeine, alcohol or nicotine. It does not cause immediate physical dependence.
What ketamine can cause however, is psychological dependence. Frequent users may like the way they feel on ketamine so much that they have trouble stopping.
Taking ketamine in a clinical setting where proper education and support is provided, reduces the risk of psychological dependence. Patients are monitored throughout their treatment process for any signs of dependence, and encouraged to explore other healing tools as their symptoms improve. This kind of mindful use is rarely seen with recreational use, and can make a huge difference for patients’ lives.

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