Ketamine breaks into B.C.’s public health sector as ‘powerful intervention’ for severe depression
At parties, it’s known as Special K, an illegal, hallucinogenic drug that offers an out-of-body experience for those who use it.
The drug’s use is now expanding across North America, from an anesthetic used in the sedation of patients before medical procedures to a fast-acting antidepressant that is being offered in more and more hospitals and private clinics in B.C.
Dr. Joseph Tham said he has seen the complete turnaround of patients at Vancouver Coastal Health’s ketamine intervention program, which is expanding this month to treat more patients free of charge at UBC Hospital.
“We have been sent suicidal patients who have been in hospital for months, but with treatment, they were able to be discharged relatively quickly,” said Tham, a psychiatrist and professor at the university.
“For some, ketamine proves to be a powerful intervention that allows the mind to re-network itself from being stuck in a negative and cognitively impaired state to a more forward-looking one,” by promoting a surge of new connections between nerve cells in areas of the brain involved in emotions and mood.