Therapeutic infusions of ketamine: Do the psychoactive effects matter?

  • Dakwar E
  • Anerella C
  • Hart C
 et al. 
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Background: Sub-anesthetic ketamine infusions may benefit a variety of psychiatric disorders, including addiction. Though ketamine engenders transient alterations in consciousness, it is not known whether these alterations influence efficacy. This analysis evaluates the mystical-type effects of ketamine, which may have therapeutic potential according to prior research, and assesses whether these effects mediate improvements in dependence-related deficits, 24. h postinfusion. Methods: Eight cocaine dependent individuals completed this double-blind, randomized, inpatient study. Three counter-balanced infusions separated by 48. h were received: lorazepam (2. mg) and two doses of ketamine (0.41. mg/kg and 0.71. mg/kg, with the former dose always preceding the latter). Infusions were followed within 15. min by measures of dissociation (Clinician Administered Dissociative Symptoms Scale: CADSS) and mystical-type effects (adapted from Hood's Mysticism Scale: HMS). At baseline and 24. h postinfusion, participants underwent assessments of motivation to stop cocaine (University of Rhode Island Change Assessment) and cue-induced craving (by visual analogue scale for cocaine craving during cue exposure). Results: Ketamine led to significantly greater acute mystical-type effects (by HMS) relative to the active control lorazepam; ketamine 0.71. mg/kg was associated with significantly higher HMS scores than was the 0.41. mg/kg dose. HMS score, but not CADSS score, was found to mediate the effect of ketamine on motivation to quit cocaine 24. h postinfusion. Conclusions: These findings suggest that psychological mechanisms may be involved in some of the anti-addiction benefits resulting from ketamine. Future research can evaluate whether the psychoactive effects of ketamine influence improvements in larger samples. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cocaine
  • Dependence
  • Ketamine
  • Mystical experience

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  • E. Dakwar

  • C. Anerella

  • C. L. Hart

  • F. R. Levin

  • S. J. Mathew

  • E. V. Nunes

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