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Ketamine Therapy for Alcohol Addiction

Ketamine Therapy for Alcohol AddictionAlthough it’s legal, alcohol (ethanol) is classified as a drug. Since social drinking has become very commonplace in our society, many people are unaware of the long term effects that it has on the body and brain. Depending on the length of time someone has been drinking, and the amount consumed regularly, or in binging episodes, the impact can have moderate to severe outcomes. People usually initially start drinking to feel good, but as drinking becomes more consistent, they feel as though they have to drink to avoid bouts of sadness or depression.

If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to permanent brain dysfunction, disabilities, chronic pain, disease states, and death. 3.3 million people die each year due to alcohol. The cumulative effects of drinking are the most damaging.

For heavy drinkers, trying to abstain from drinking for long periods of time, is challenging, as the brain is programmed to associate drinking with pleasure, and it’s also triggered by environmental as well as psychological issues. For example, attending a social event and not drinking can be overwhelming since the brain is telling the person that it’s okay to drink because everyone else is drinking, and it’s also tricking the individual by making them feel they are in control of their drinking when clearly, they are not. Genetics also plays a role in how the brain is wired when it comes to addiction.

For years there have been controversial medically assisted treatments that block the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor in the brain, which reduces the desire to drink via the drug naloxone. However, there is another way to block this receptor safely without the risk of severe side effects, and that is with Ketamine IV therapy.

Ketamine IV Therapy
Ketamine infuses the brain and the NMDA receptor with serotonin, that’s why it’s been used for decades to treat depression, but it also works to stop and block the addiction area of the brain from controlling thoughts and memories of drinking alcohol. The associations of the triggers to drink and those “pleasures” are nulled, and the person will no longer desire to drink or to become intoxicated.

For many years, Ketamine has been studied in patients with severe depression and PTSD. It is now being studied for its effectiveness in treating alcohol and substance use disorders. A rapid, instantaneous effect takes place immediately upon the drug being dispensed intravenously. When a well-trained physician administers Ketamine, it can help with symptoms like moodiness, decreased concentration, low self-esteem, impaired sleep, decreased sexual desire, diminished appetite, addiction, and can even alleviate suicidal thoughts.

During the treatment, the initial infusions usually take place over approximately two weeks, with six infusions that are administered every other day.

Dr. Steven Reichbach states, “In our opinion, IV Ketamine infusions are the gold standard patients with severe mood disorders, and now it’s proving to be as effective with alleviating addictive episodes. IV ketamine provides 100% bioavailability meaning that 100% of the drug administered gets where it needs to go (the brain). This provides easier titration and a higher likelihood for a positive response. At the end of the day, the out of pocket cost to the patient may be more than the IV infusions depending on an individual’s insurance coverage, not to mention the time, convenience, and advantage for the patient of the IV ketamine infusions. Ketamine treatment is also extremely beneficial for treating pain disorders.”

It’s not uncommon for individuals that struggle with alcohol addiction; relapsing multiple times during their quest for sobriety and control is extremely common. Behavioral therapy and rehabilitation are beneficial, but a synergistic approach that utilizes a multifactorial approach is optimal for success. If you need help with your addiction, Ketamine IV therapy might be an effective therapy for your long term recovery.

Steven Reichbach, MD, Board-Certified Anesthesiologist, specializes in pain management. For more information, please contact their office today at 941-213-4444, or visit their website at

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