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So, what’s the deal with ketamine?

As you may have noticed, we’re fans of ketamine infusion therapy around these parts. But understandably, you may have reservations, such as

  • isn’t that a psychedelic party drug?
  • isn’t that a horse tranquilizer?
  • will I get sucked into a k-hole?
  • is that legal?
  • will this really help?

…or myriad other questions. These are all valid concerns to have, especially since ketamine has been around so long and has somewhat of a reputation. However, research and trials over the past 15 years or so have shown that low doses of ketamine can be a literal lifesaver among individuals with mental health problems.

But we’ll get into that as we go along. For now, let’s address each of these questions one at a time.

Isn’t ketamine a psychedelic party drug?


Ketamine, often called “Special K” by partygoers, has a bad reputation. However, its medical merits should not be overlooked. (Credit:

Large doses of ketamine have been used by partiers to produce a hallucinogenic effect and even provide “out-of-body” experiences. However, this use is dangerous, uncontrolled, illegal, and far above the amount prescribed for anesthesia, let alone the amount typically used in mental health treatments.

Isn’t it a horse tranquilizer?

Ketamine’s history dates back to the 1960s, and the drug has found its FDA-approved use as an anesthetic. Safer than many other anesthetics, it has been used regularly for decades in procedures performed on children, adults, the elderly, and animals (including horses).

Notably, the amount of ketamine used in infusion therapy for treatment-resistant depression is a small fraction of that used for anesthesia.

Will I get sucked into a k-hole?

No. A “k-hole”, as many of the aforementioned partygoers call it, is the mind-altering effect caused by taking a bunch of ketamine.


When administered for mental health purposes, ketamine is given in small, controlled doses. The whole process is monitored closely by providers and nursing staff. (Credit:

While those given smaller, doctor-administered treatments for their mental health can experience some dissociative symptoms and even hallucinations for a very brief period, you won’t be going on a great big “trip” like you would at higher dosages. These effects typically wear off within a few minutes of a treatment’s conclusion.

Is ketamine infusion therapy legal?

Yes. You may have heard that this kind of treatment is currently off-label, meaning it’s not yet FDA-approved. However, it is on the fast track to become approved, and is 100 percent legal.

Chances are, you’ve received an off-label prescription before. Doctors are authorized to give them, and often do. For example, certain pain medications are recommended at certain dosages, but a doctor might prescribe several times the recommended level for an injury. Beta-blockers, meant to help with high blood pressure, are widely-used treatments for heart failure. Antipsychotics are also commonly used to treat ADHD. These uses are all off-label and usually not officially FDA-approved, but they’re totally cool.

Will this really help?

In all likelihood, yes! Whereas the majority of antidepressants work for about 30 percent of people, ketamine infusions consistently help 70+ percent – even if you have treatment-resistant depression! In fact, ketamine’s track record is so good and it works so fast that it can be effective in helping people experiencing suicidal thoughts.

We hope that this article dispels a few ketamine myths and quiets any fears you may have about it.

Ketamine’s use in treating major depression, PTSD, anxiety, postpartum depression, OCD, and other treatment-resistant disorders has truly shown to benefit thousands of people. The providers here at Noetic Psychiatry are anxious to help our patients find real relief, and we’ve seen ketamine help facilitate that for many of our patients in profound ways.

To learn more, check out our Ketamine Infusions page.

To see if a ketamine infusion treatment might be right for you, visit our Contact Us page to send us a message or give us a call at (801) 369-8989.

Daniel Moster is an office/IT intern at Noetic Psychiatry, who also occasionally moonlights as a writer, mandolin player, and student of Family Life at Brigham Young University. In his free time, he enjoys collecting hobbies, eating sugary foods, and spending time with his beautiful wife and son.

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