What is Addiction?

Addiction refers to a complex and chronic psychological and physical condition characterized by the compulsive and uncontrollable consumption of substances or engagement in behaviors despite negative consequences. It is often considered a brain disorder. It involves a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Substances that commonly lead to addiction include drugs (both legal and illegal), alcohol, and nicotine. Behaviors that can lead to addiction include gambling, internet use, gaming, and even certain types of activities or behaviors that release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

Key characteristics of addiction include:

  • Compulsion: People with addiction often feel a strong urge or compulsion to engage in the addictive behavior or consume the substance, even when they are aware of the negative consequences.
  • Loss of Control: Individuals find it difficult to control their consumption of the substance or engagement in the behavior. This can lead to excessive use or involvement.
  • Negative Consequences: Despite being aware of the harmful consequences, addicted individuals continue to engage in the behavior or consume the substance. These consequences can affect various areas of life. This includes health, relationships, work, and finances.
  • Tolerance: Over time, the body and brain can develop tolerance to the substance or behavior. Hence, it requires higher amounts or increased intensity to achieve the desired effect.
  • Withdrawal: When the substance or behavior is suddenly stopped, individuals can experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe physical and psychological effects.
  • Distorted Thinking: Addiction often leads to distorted thinking patterns. Addicted individuals rationalize their behavior, deny the extent of their problem, or engage in self-deception.
  • Interference with Daily Life: Addiction can disrupt a person's ability to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home. And, can lead to a decreased quality of life overall.

Overcoming Addiction with Treatment 

Addiction can have a significant impact on individuals, their families, and society as a whole. Effective treatment often involves a combination of behavioral therapies, counseling, and support groups. And, in some cases, treatment with medication is appropriate. The process of overcoming addiction can be challenging. And, may require ongoing management and support to maintain recovery.

How Does Ketamine Work to Treat Addiction?

Ketamine is primarily known as an anesthetic and is commonly used in medical and veterinary settings. However, recent research has explored its potential for treating various mental health conditions. This includes addiction. The exact mechanisms through which ketamine might help treat addiction are not fully understood. But, there are several proposed theories:

  1. Neuroplasticity: Ketamine is believed to influence neuroplasticity. This is the brain's ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. Addiction involves maladaptive changes in brain circuitry. And, ketamine may help reset these circuits by promoting the growth of new connections and pathways. This could potentially help break the cycle of addictive behaviors.
  2. Glutamate System Modulation: Ketamine acts on the glutamate neurotransmitter system. More specifically, it blocks NMDA receptors. This modulation of glutamate transmission is thought to play a role in the drug's antidepressant effects. It might also contribute to its potential in treating addiction. The glutamate system is involved in learning, memory, and reward pathways, which are all relevant to addiction.
  3. Dissociation from Cravings: Ketamine's effects can induce a dissociative state. This might help individuals temporarily disconnect from cravings and triggers associated with addictive substances or behaviors. This could provide a window of opportunity for individuals to develop coping strategies and break the cycle of addiction.
  4. Reduction of Depression and Anxiety: Many people with addiction also struggle with co-occurring mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Ketamine has demonstrated rapid-acting antidepressant effects. This could indirectly help individuals manage these underlying mental health issues that contribute to their addictive behaviors.

Ketamine Research

It's important to note that while there is growing interest in using ketamine to treat addiction, research in this area is still in its early stages. Clinical trials are ongoing to better understand the safety and efficacy of ketamine for addiction treatment. Additionally, ketamine is a powerful drug with potential for misuse. Its administration should only be conducted under the supervision of qualified medical professionals in a controlled and monitored environment.

Ketamine Therapy Treatment Plan for Addiction

For over two decades the most common protocol used to treat mood disorders such in the setting of a ketamine clinic involves a primary series of six infusions. Research has shown that although one infusion can provide rapid relief, the benefits generally wear off quickly and for some the effects are very subtle. Using a series of infusions allows the ketamine to have a greater and longer lasting effect in the brain resulting in sustained relief.

It is important to bear in mind that the theory of how ketamine works in the brain described above is a process that takes time, and one infusion will not erase years of struggling with addiction. It is also important to know that ketamine provides life-changing benefits for many patients. But it is not considered a cure and may require ongoing maintenance infusions. The frequency can be variable from several weeks to several months in between treatments.

It is recommended to complete at least three infusions prior to deciding if the treatment is working for you. Most patients will be able to identify a clear benefit after the third infusion. If after three infusions, you do not feel that the treatment is providing any benefit at all then unfortunately you may be in a minority that do not respond well to ketamine therapy. This is very unfortunate, but it is essential to understand that it is possible you will try the treatment and not find the relief you are looking for.  Ultimately, there is no way to know if ketamine will work for you without actually trying it.

Data Driven Ketamine Treatment for Addiction

We use the data from published research to guide treatment. This often leads to using a treatment plan based on the “average patient”. There is merit in this approach but in reality, each patient is an individual and the response to treatment can likewise be very individual. Ketamine infusions are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Some clients report amazing relief with just one infusion. Others find little benefit after three infusions. But, elect to proceed and ultimately find good benefit after the fourth or fifth infusion. The point being that we always proceed one step at a time. NW Ketamine Infusion does not offer packages of infusions because there should be no pressure to proceed if the treatment isn’t right for you.

Caution and Considerations When U sing Ketamine Therapy to Treat Addiction

Ketamine shows significant promise in treating addiction. However, it is essential to undergo a thorough screening prior to initiating treatment. Ketamine treatment should not be initiated during active substance abuse but rather in the early stages of maintaining continuous sobriety. We strongly advocate for the concurrent use of 12-step programs or other support groups specifically designed to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Ketamine is not a cure and will never be provided for use outside of the clinic setting. Treatment will not be provided to any client that arrives at the clinic intoxicated or impaired from alcohol or drugs.

Most patients can safely receive ketamine therapy. There are a few medical conditions that might require treatment prior to beginning therapy or stop you from receiving this treatment. A few examples are uncontrolled hypertension, active substance abuse, pregnancy or unstable cardiac disease.

Ketamine is not a first-line or stand-alone treatment for addiction. It is intended to be one component of a multimodal treatment regimen. It is extremely important to continually work on building new and healthy habits using every available source of support in the early stages of sobriety. We are here to support your goal of lasting sobriety.

Although the potential for addiction is extremely low, ketamine can be abused or misused. Close monitoring by qualified medical professionals is crucial during ketamine administration to ensure safety and appropriate dosing.


Ketamine may serve as the missing piece for many struggling with addiction. Its unique mechanism of action, particularly on the NMDA receptor and neuroplasticity, sets it apart from other medications. Some report that ketamine helps to illicit a spiritual awakening that is often suggested as a necessary step in achieving long-term sobriety. However, it is essential to acknowledge that our understanding of the appropriate use of ketamine for treating addiction is still evolving. Ketamine therapy requires close medical supervision. And it is not suitable for everyone. As research in this field continues to advance, we can hope for more effective and targeted treatments for addiction, improving the quality of life for countless individuals worldwide.