Ketamine 101
May 7, 2024

Ketamine Treatment for Alcoholism

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 95,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading cause of death after tobacco and bad nutrition. These fatalities do not solely include drinkers; alcohol is responsible for 28% of all motor vehicle deaths in the United States.

You may know someone who struggles with drinking or you may be dealing with it yourself. Above everything, know that you're not alone. If you or your loved one have tried traditional methods to stop drinking and were unsuccessful, ketamine therapy may be helpful. When combined with traditional talk therapy, ketamine treatments have the potential to offer increased relief during rehabilitation for chronic drinking.

When Does Drinking Become Problematic?

It's often difficult to tell if someone is having a good time versus drinking too much. The NIAA's guidelines for acceptable drinking are:

● 12 ounces of beer

● 5 ounces of wine

● 1.5 ounces of liquor

The NIAA recommends men have no more than two standard drinks per day, while women should only have one.

A person who drinks excessively in a regular pattern is known as a problem drinker, but they do not have the same level of dependence on alcohol as someone with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

There are three different stages of AUD:

  1. Binge drinking: defined as having five or more standard drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in one hour for women.
  2. Heavy drinking: defined as men consuming four or more standard drinks a day, and women consuming three or more. Or, binge drinking five days a month.
  3. High-intensity drinking: defined as consuming two or more times the binge drinking thresholds.

An excessive intake of alcohol causes drinking habits that can lead to physical dependence. Although healthy drinking habits are not often linked to negative health consequences, continued usage over time may result in severe harm. Problems include:

● Blackouts

● Brain fog and cognitive decline

● Liver disease

● Heart disease

● Tremors

● Certain cancers

● Hypertension

● Permanent brain damage in the frontal lobe, which controls short-term memory, emotions, and judgment

● Malnutrition

● A compromised immune system

● Sexual dysfunction

Traditional Medicine vs. Psychedelic Therapy

Alcoholism treatments often rely on complete alcohol abstinence, such as avoiding alcoholic beverages and situations that cause you to drink. This is known as total abstinence therapy. Unfortunately, for many, total abstinence is stressful and can lead to other bad habits, like binge eating. To truly heal, the underlying cause that motivates someone to rely on alcohol must be addressed first.

When individuals recovering from AUD relapse, they frequently blame themselves, and their guilt drives them to drink more. Sadly, nearly 90% of people in alcohol addiction therapy relapse within the first four years of treatment.

According to several studies, ketamine may help people stop drinking excessively, whether they are compulsive drinkers or dealing with AUD. According to the researcher, ketamine may improve patient motivation to quit or moderate alcohol use. Ketamine treatment for alcoholism may also encourage resilience and lower feelings of guilt after a relapse by helping patients feel more open to change.

In the brains of problem drinkers and alcoholics, ketamine may also help with re-establishing healthy reward memories (MRM). In one experimental study, 90 participants were shown pictures of alcoholic beverages and then given one ketamine infusion. Afterward, 82% of individuals reported a decrease in their desire for alcohol, which persisted throughout the nine-month follow-up..

Psychedelic Therapy for Alcoholism

Do you know anyone who has a drinking problem? Do they regularly drink too much and experience negative consequences as a result? If so, they might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Traditional treatments rely largely on complete abstinence, but this may not be feasible for many. Ketamine therapy is a potentially beneficial alternative, as it may increase patient motivation to moderate drinking while improving self-esteem and confidence to quit after relapse.

Better U provides evidence-based therapies to help combat a multitude of life stressors. Psychedelic therapy consists of breathwork, personalized programs, and medication (ketamine) when appropriate. To see if you are a candidate for our psychedelic therapy program, start with our simple assessment.