The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 50 million Americans—about 20 percent of the population—suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as experiencing a moderate level of pain on most days, for at least six months.
Oftentimes, people take opiate pain medications to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, but they can cause dependency issues, and even lead patients to eventually seek medications from illegal and untrustworthy sources. Because of this, many doctors began prescribing a medication called gabapentin—a drug traditionally used to prevent seizures—as an alternative treatment for neuropathic pain. It has become so popular that it is now the 10th most prescribed medication in the U.S.
However, the National Poison Data System has recently uncovered that many people are using gabapentin
to get high or attempt suicide. Between 2013 to 2017, patients tried to commit suicide using gabapentin over 40,000 times. 70 percent of the the poisoned patients took a combination of gabapentin and other drugs.
So, what is the solution if current options are worse than chronic pain itself? Chronic pain sufferers often end up with depression due to the pain interfering with their daily life. Chronic pain can lead a person to become physically de-conditioned and emotionally filled with thoughts of despair and hopelessness.
Ketamine has been around since the 1960s, administered originally as an anesthetic. More recently, off label uses have proven ketamine to be a potentially effective as a chronic pain management option, particularly with neuropathic pain
. Ketamine, though it had developed a reputation as a “party drug” in the 1990s, is actually not physically addictive and, therefore, a great alternative to opiate-based pain medications. It has long-lasting effects with many patients reporting a decrease in symptoms for up to 6 months after their initial series of infusions. It generally takes 1-2 infusions for relief to set in, which makes ketamine even more appealing for its fast-acting relief.
Ketamine may be a very useful alternative to opiate painkillers in certain conditions. With opiate abuse and addiction rampant, ketamine given under medical supervision provides a safer non-narcotic option. Ketamine infusions are administered at dedicated ketamine clinics and monitored closely by clinical professionals. Patients feel better and better with each infusion, generally requiring 4-6 infusions over the course of two weeks, with maintenance infusions performed as needed on an ongoing basis.