Request An Appointment Today!

Ketamine vs. Opioids: Debunking the Myths

Ketamine vs. Opioids Debunking the Myths

The field of mental health and chronic pain management is currently undergoing a transformative shift, with a growing interest in alternative therapies. One such therapy that has recently gained attention is ketamine. In this article, we seek to clarify the commonly misunderstood comparison between ketamine and opioids. Our goal is to provide information on alternative therapies and help those who struggle with treatment-resistant mood disorders and chronic pain. We will delve into the essence of ketamine and opioids and clarify misconceptions about them.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, a Schedule III controlled substance, has been a staple in medical settings for decades, primarily as an anesthetic. Initially introduced in the 1970s, ketamine has been employed for its dissociative properties in various medical procedures. However, it is essential to note that the scope of ketamine’s use as a dissociative medical anesthetic is not comprehensively documented.

Recent studies show that subjects with depression evidenced significant improvement in depressive symptoms within 72 hours after ketamine.

Healthcare providers administer ketamine through injections or oral medication in medical settings, as it is a highly effective treatment option.

What are Opioids?

Opioids, on the other hand, are a class of drugs that include both prescription pain relievers and illegal drugs like heroin. These substances interact with opioid receptors in the brain to produce pain relief and feelings of euphoria. While opioids are effective for managing pain, they come with a host of challenges, including the potential for addiction and overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than 1 million people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. 1 More than 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid.The number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), in 2021 was ten times the number in 1999.  Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 80,000 people in 2021, and nearly 88% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.

IV Ketamine infusions for depression anxiety ptsd chronic pain fibromyalgia CRPS Bethesda MD McLean VA Washington DC

Debunking Ketamine and Opioids Myths

To understand the differences between ketamine and opioids, we must examine how they work. Ketamine functions as an NMDA receptor antagonist, affecting glutamate levels in the brain. On the other hand, opioids bind to specific receptors in the central nervous system, altering pain perception.

Below is a list of common misconceptions regarding the use of Ketamine and Opioids:

1 Ketamine is Only a Party Drug

One prevalent myth surrounding ketamine is its association with recreational use at parties. While it is true that ketamine has been misused in non-medical settings, its legitimate use in medical contexts far outweighs its recreational misuse. The controlled administration of ketamine by healthcare professionals distinguishes its medical application from illicit use.A study shows that there was a significant improvement in depression, anxiety, and the severity of illness after two weeks and one month of the last dose of ketamine.

2 Ketamine is Highly Addictive

Contrary to popular belief, ketamine has a lower potential for addiction compared to opioids. When used under controlled medical supervision, the risk of developing dependence on ketamine is minimal. It is crucial to distinguish between responsible medical use and non-medical misuse of the substance.

3 Prescription Opioids are Safe Because Doctors prescribe them

While prescribed opioids can effectively manage pain when used as directed, the risk of addiction and overdose remains a serious concern. To mitigate these risks, patients must communicate openly with their healthcare providers about pain management.

The fact is that in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.

Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.

4 Opioid Addiction Only Happens to Weak-Willed Individuals

Opioid addiction is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors, including genetics, environment, and mental health. Labeling individuals struggling with opioid addiction as “weak-willed” oversimplifies a multifaceted issue. Addiction is a medical condition that requires comprehensive understanding and support for effective treatment.

5 Ketamine and Opioids are Equally Addictive

The comparison between the addictiveness of ketamine and opioids is often oversimplified. While both substances can be misused, their mechanisms of action and risk profiles differ significantly. 

We understand that addiction is a serious concern for many patients seeking medical treatment. That’s why at Avesta Ketamine, we take great care to provide a safe and responsible environment for Ketamine therapy. Our team of Trusted Providers is here to offer Ketamine Assisted Therapy and Ketamine Integration Circles in a supportive and nurturing setting. With Ketamine’s lower potential for addiction compared to opioids, we’re proud to offer this innovative treatment option to those in need.

It is crucial to approach the issue with a nuanced understanding of each substance’s pharmacology and the contexts in which they are used.

6 Opioids are the Only Effective Pain Management Option

The belief that opioids are the sole effective option for pain management is a common misconception. With the growing body of research on alternative therapies, including ketamine, there are viable alternatives for individuals seeking pain relief without the associated risks of opioids. Understanding the available options empowers patients to make informed decisions about their pain management.

Evidence suggests that some nonopioid treatments used for many types of pain, including therapies that don’t involve medications, may work better for some conditions and have fewer risks and side effects.

A study of the SPACE RCT was published in 2018, which compared the efficacy of opioids to that of non-opioid medications on pain-related function in subjects suffering from chronic back pain and hip or knee osteoarthritis pain. Non-opioid medications included both NSAIDs and acetaminophen. Opioids were not found to be superior to non-opioids in improving function at 12 months, and results argue against the use of opioids for such conditions.

Understanding the differences between alternative therapies, specifically ketamine, can help you comprehend their benefits better. 

At Avesta Ketamine, we offer the best possible care and treatment options for a variety of conditions, including depression, chronic pain, and PTSD. Our treatments utilize ketamine, a fast-acting and long-lasting solution that has been proven to provide relief. Our team, led by Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, a 20-year anesthesia and pain management veteran, is dedicated to providing the best possible care. With our expertise and commitment to your well-being, you can trust us to provide you with the relief you need.

We are here for you!

For those struggling with treatment-resistant mood disorders and chronic pain, Avesta Ketamine provides a safe and controlled healing process for patients suffering from treatment-resistant mood disorders and chronic pain. At Avesta, we understand that facing challenges can be difficult, so we offer assisted therapy by a stellar team of highly adept professionals in diverse areas such as Public Health, Psychology, Biology, and Healthcare Administration. 

The unique skills of each team member support our patient-centered approach. Our providers are board-certified advanced practitioners, each with their expertise to contribute. We are committed to assisting those who face challenges with empathy and providing a glimmer of hope to those in need.

Our commitment is to provide safe, evidence-based ketamine treatments with a deep understanding of the potential this substance holds for transformative mental health care.

If you or a loved one is seeking an alternative approach to managing mood disorders or chronic pain, consider reaching out to Avesta Ketamine. At our healthcare facility, we truly understand how crucial it is to receive personalized and compassionate care that always prioritizes your well-being. We genuinely care about your health and are committed to making sure you’re comfortable and confident in the care you receive. Trust us to be there for you every step of the way, and we promise to help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

Ketamine Infusions in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA and Washington, DC

Latest Posts

Text Us