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Ketamine: A Promising Medicine for Alcoholism Treatment and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

During the first year of the pandemic, alcohol consumption jumped to an average of 2.45 gallons per person per year. This represented a 2.9% increase from the prior year—the largest increase in more than 50 years. Unsurprisingly, more consumption correlated with a 25.5% increase in deaths involving alcohol which was 8.9% more than the increase mortality from all causes, including COVID-19. Clearly, the negative impacts of excessive alcohol consumption are widespread.

Alcoholism, alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction continue to be very challenging to treat

People who enroll in traditional rehab programs may spend tens of thousands of dollars only to relapse. AWAKN, a UK biotech, states that in the US just 8% of people suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), a condition recognized by the DSM-5 and ICD-10, actually seek treatment. And of those few that do, AWAKN says that 75% of them may relapse within a year.

Because it's been shown to change behaviors by “rewiring” neural pathways in the brain, IV ketamine is an effective option for treating alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). When administered as part of a treatment plan with psychotherapy, IV ketamine may be even more beneficial.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

AUD is a diagnosis which relates to alcoholism as well as alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction. It is characterized by an inability to control alcohol consumption, even when it negatively impacts one’s health, finances, or relationships. AUD may be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of signs or symptoms such as needing alcohol in the morning or to relax or fall asleep. Short term effects include memory loss and hangovers. AUD may result in cancer, cirrhosis, and increased risk from accidents and suicide in the longer term.

AUD risk factors include:

  • Drinking at an early age,
  • Access to alcohol,
  • Trauma such as accidents and mental, physical, and sexual abuse,
  • A family history with alcohol, and
  • Other mental health conditions like depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Before the pandemic, it was estimated that 14.5 million Americans 12 years and older suffered from AUD. Of this, 414,000 were between 12-17.

Why is IV ketamine a promising option for treating AUD?

Published last year, a Phase 2 clinical trial funded by the UK government showed that ketamine may be an effective way to increase alcohol abstinence (with corresponding improvements in liver function) in people with AUD. Over the three-week double-blind study, 96 detoxified participants who sought help with severe AUD (DSM-5 or DSM-IV criteria) received the following treatments depending on their random group assignments:

A table showing treatments for each of the four groups
Table showing treatment combinations for each group in the study


Although proof-of-concept, the results are encouraging.

The study’s authors noted, “… there was a significantly greater percentage of days abstinent at the 6-month follow-up in the ketamine compared with the placebo group.”

The results also indicate that psychological therapy may be beneficial in conjunction with IV ketamine treatment, but more research is needed. Compared with traditional pharmacological and behavioral treatments, IV ketamine therapy with psychological therapy may prove to be an effective treatment for those with AUD.

How can people suffering from AUD including alcoholism, alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction get help now?

While we were not involved with this study, we are impressed with its conclusions and are looking forward to its larger upcoming Phase 3 trial. In the meantime, we know many here in the Central Coast from Santa Maria to Morro Bay are seeking help for alcoholism, alcohol addiction, or AUD now.

At Innerbloom Ketamine Therapy, we are proud to offer an IV ketamine treatment protocol for AUD, alcoholism, and alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction. Our approach is based on the same design and methods used in the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research study summarized above.

Like the study’s participants: All of our patients are monitored by highly trained, licensed medical professionals at all times in our tranquil setting designed for comfort and healing.

But unlike the study’s participants: All of our patients have the option of incorporating psychotherapy before, during, and after their IV ketamine infusions to help with preparation and integration.

If you are looking for something other than traditional treatments like rehabilitation, cognitive behavioral therapy, or support groups, book a free consultation with us today to learn more about how our IV ketamine therapy plan may help.

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