Some clients find traditional psychotherapy and other forms of treatment more effective when combined with alternative therapies, including ketamine therapy. The effects of ketamine in a therapeutic setting help clients with treatment-resistant depression and other mental health disorders gain insight into their condition. According to the Journal of Neuroscience, “In the last decade, numerous studies in laboratory animals and humans have confirmed the usefulness of ketamine for the treatment of resistant depression.” Exclusive Hawaii Rehab uses ketamine therapy and other psychedelic therapies to help clients engage more fully in treatment.

How Does Ketamine Therapy Help?

Ketamine therapy is used to treat various mental health symptoms, including severe depressive episodes, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The drug is administered at low doses under controlled conditions over the course of multiple sessions. A clinician monitors each session and helps clients analyze their experiences.

Ketamine therapy at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is considered a form of psycholytic therapy, combining aspects of psychodynamic therapy with the psychedelic experience. According to Dr. Bryce Healy, an N.D. at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, “When you are creating a space for the person to explore their issues and their traumas and their resistances, then this term psycholytic is really appropriate for using ketamine therapy as it . . . [helps] these walls melt and disintegrate so that they can feel more comfortable talking about their issues or dealing with difficult emotions and difficult feelings.”

Is Ketamine Treatment Safe for Clients With Substance Use Disorder?

Some individuals in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) may hesitate to take advantage of ketamine therapy. However, the drug has been used for decades in legitimate medical procedures and is considered reasonably safe to use for treating psychological conditions. In addition, research suggests ketamine treatment does not endanger client sobriety. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “There is no clear evidence of recent substance abuse to be associated with the risk of relapse with ketamine.”

Ketamine therapy, while relatively safe, is not the right treatment for everyone. Each client is unique and has specific triggers. The clinical team will assess clients diagnosed with SUD to determine if ketamine is safe, necessary, and appropriate for their care.

What to Expect During Therapy Sessions

Before clients are offered ketamine, they must go through two assessment sessions.

#1. During the first assessment, the clinician assesses the client’s emotional and physical state while conducting a thorough screening, reviewing the client’s psychological history, past traumas, and details about their disorder.

#2. In the second assessment, the clinician discusses how the client feels about the treatment and educates them on what to expect during a ketamine therapy session. According to Dr. Bryce Healy, the Dr. responsible for administering ketamine therapy, “The second preparation meetup is going to talk a bit more about what to expect within the dosing experiences [and] ways that we can get our ourself physically emotionally prepared to do this work that the ketamine therapy is helping facilitate.” If the client is ready, they are given their first minimal dose. The clinician stays for the duration of the session, monitoring their reactions.

Clinicians use the two assessment sessions to create a framework for any following sessions.

How Is Ketamine Administered?

Currently, Exclusive Hawaii Rehab administers ketamine using an oral sublingual troche, a small tablet that dissolves in the mouth. In most cases, it takes approximately 30 minutes for the tablet to dissolve completely. The care team closely monitors clients to ensure they feel safe and comfortable before, during, and after each session.

Potential Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy

The most common side effect of ketamine therapy is mild nausea. However, some people may experience changes in blood pressure lasting between 30 minutes to two hours. The care team at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab monitors blood pressure before, during, and after ketamine therapy to ensure clients remain safe and healthy. Individuals with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease may not be a good candidate for this treatment.

All clients go through a comprehensive screening before being offered ketamine therapy. Clients are examined on a case-by-case basis to determine if they have any health issues that may disqualify them from using this service. The care team starts clients at a very low dose and slowly works up the dosage to reduce the risk of unexpected adverse side effects.

What Conditions Are Treated Using Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine is known to treat a range of depressive and trauma-related disorders. According to BJPsych Open, “[T]he plethora of evidence from the systematic reviews and meta-analyses reviewed here supports a robust, rapid and transient antidepressant effect of ketamine in unipolar and bipolar depression, as well as treatment-resistant depression, with repeated dosing increasing the duration of effectiveness.” Ketamine therapy is most often used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and individuals reporting a history of suicidal ideation.

Conditions Exclusive Hawaii Rehab does not treat with ketamine therapy include:

  • Some forms of bipolar disorder (BD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Conditions with symptoms of psychosis

The care team conducts a comprehensive assessment to ensure there is no family history of schizophrenia or psychosis.

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Treatment Services at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Ketamine therapy is one of the newest treatment services offered at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. The care team is trained and certified to use the drug as an alternative treatment. Ketamine therapy is most effective when used alongside psychotherapy. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab offers multiple forms of psychotherapy and other evidence-based treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The clinicians use a whole-person approach to treatment to ensure the best possible outcomes.