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A Few Words About Ketamine

For those fans of the very popular TV show, “Friends”, I am certain that you were all very upset with the recent death of one of the stars of the show, Matthew Perry.  I do not follow much network television myself, but by all reports, Mr. Perry suffered for years with various addictions, including alcohol and drugs.  Although he was reported to be “clean” recently, on October 28, 2023 he was found dead in his home hot tub.   Although there were no drugs found at the scene, a recent autopsy showed toxic levels of the anesthetic medication, KETAMINE in his system.

Ketamine is an injectable, short-acting dissociative anesthetic that can have hallucinogenic effects at certain doses. It distorts perceptions of sight and sound and makes users feel detached from pain and their surroundings.  The drug was discovered in the 1960’s, used in Vietnam battlefield surgeries in the 1970’s and started being used as a “party drug” in the later 1970’s and 1980’s.  In the 2000’s studies began on the use of ketamine for depression.  In 2019 an inhaled version of ketamine was approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression.  Although this is an ”off-label” use, many clinics have been administering ketamine intravenously for the treatment of refractory depression.

Ketamine is not nearly as addictive as other medications such as opiates.  It is relatively easy to wean someone off of this medication when done correctly under a physician’s supervision.  There is a major danger of ketamine usage when combined with other mind-altering medications.  Hence, it is vitally important that ketamine be used in a medical situation with health care professionals present.

When used correctly under a physician’s supervision, ketamine holds great promise for helping people with treatment-resistant depression.  However, when used recreationally, especially when combined with other drugs and/or alcohol, ketamine’s use can be lethal.

Here is a tribute to Mr. Perry with the tune from the “Friends” theme.

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