Is ketamine safe?

Ketamine was FDA approved as an anesthetic in 1970 and has an excellent safety record. According to the World Health Organization’s Fact File on Ketamine, “Ketamine is extremely safe because, unlike other anesthetic agents, it does not depress breathing or blood pressure.” The World Health Organization has included ketamine on its list of essential medicines since 1985 and has repeatedly recommended that ketamine should not be scheduled as a controlled substance because “the medical benefits far outweigh the potential harm from recreational use.” 

When used as an anesthetic, an initial ketamine dose administered intravenously ranges from 1.0-4.5 mg per kg of body weight, and an initial dose administered by intramuscular injection ranges from 6.5-13 mg/kg. Additional doses are then administered as needed for prolonged anesthesia. Subanesthetic doses used to treat depression and anxiety are often between 0.5-1.0 mg/kg (depending on the route of administration). Click here to read more about ketamine on the NCBI website. 

Ketamine has been increasingly used by anesthesiologists and mental health professionals in the past two decades to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, pain, and other conditions. While the benefits of ketamine are promising, some mental health professionals are hesitant to endorse the broader use of ketamine until more longitudinal data is available to support the long-term safety of repeated ketamine treatments.

Like any medication, ketamine is not without its risks. The dissociative effects of ketamine can increase the risk of accidents, and instances of dependence and bladder issues have been reported in frequent recreational users. Please review the important safety information on our website for more information about the potential risks and side effects of ketamine.

To learn more, read our in-depth resource on Ketamine’s safety profile.

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