Last year one of our writers submitted a piece on her first time trying ketamine, lauding the positive experience and borderline promoting its use—I didn’t know how I felt about this piece, nor was I excited for the reactions from our readers. Today, I am proud to say that, according to a study led by Matthew Cooper of Dalhousie University, published in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, this writer was right.
The study explored the antidepressant qualities of ketamine, opening the discussion for the possibility of legalizing K for medicinal use. For anyone whose introduction to K resembles mine—a sweaty club of sugar-nosed dope-freaks—the prospect of legalizing it is mildly hilarious. But it also makes a lot of sense.
Sara Solovitch recently wrote a story for The Washington Post, detailing the experience of Dennis Hartman, a 46-year-old suffering from a lifetime of depression, accelerated by 25 years of failed therapy and nearly 20 ineffective pharmaceuticals. It seemed the universe was advocating his suicide. He caught wind of a clinical trial that was testing the positive effects of ketamine on depression—it was an emotional Hail Mary, but worth a shot considering his other option. Should this too fail, his next move would be his last.
After four and a half decades of failure, stepping out of the shadow of depression seems distant, finding a cure a laughable impossibility. Yet, as Hartman tells the Post after his trial, “My life will always be divided into the time before that first infusion and the time after…that sense of suffering and pain draining away. I was bewildered by the absence of pain.”
The results of the study are optimistic in terms of the positive effects of ketamine in treating depression. Many are reporting that these medicinal properties take effect almost immediately after use, with long-lasting benefits, which “endures well after the drug has been eliminated,” according to a separate 2014 study published by Science Direct. It is worth mentioning that perhaps the aforementioned dope-freaks were on to something with their sugared-noses, unbeknownst to them. Cooper and his team’s review concludes that intranasal administration presents as the most promising strategy” to numbing the effects of depression—i.e. snorting that shit like Tony Montana.
These positive results are a welcomed alternative to the terrifying and creepy world of SSRIs, where I was once advised “these pills will take about six weeks to start working, at which point you’ll either feel better, worse, or emotionally flat.” They’re also a long time coming, given that ketamine was discovered in 1962, originally used for anesthesia and as a painkiller. This makes one wonder: why do potentially benevolent substances like ketamine take so long to get into the mainstream? Did the hippies give it a bad rap with their affinity for recreational experimentation, or was it the ’90s-to-current electronic scene with their repulsive sweatboxes of dry-drunk ravers? It’s a discussion that’s undeniably vital in the face of an increasingly prevalent disorder, which is on track to become the “second most disabling condition in the world by 2020, behind heart disease.” For thousands of cases like Hartman’s, it’s a conversation that could mean the difference between life and suicide.