There is increasing interest in Ketamine (an NMDA receptor antagonist) and its possible therapeutic benefits. Up to now we have seen its use as an anaesthetic (used commonly in horses) and as a recreational drug. However, early trials particularly in Australia (Black Dog Institute in Sydney) and also more locally in Oxford, indicate that it could have a role in the treatment of depression, particularly in resistant cases. It acts rapidly to elevate mood, which is different from the usual anti-depressants that usually take two weeks to start working.
NMDA receptor antagonism can disrupt memory formation and it is this property that is being investigated in the trial.
Scientists at UCL are using Ketamine with patients who consume harmful amounts of alcohol. This sounds controversial, i.e. using a drug of abuse to treat another drug use problem. However there is some logic to the trial. The theory is that Ketamine could disrupt memories or cues, that lead us to consume alcohol, e.g. when we go out with particular friends to places we associate with drinking alcohol, the aim would be for the memory of alcohol use in these situations (cues) to be removed or overwritten by the use of Ketamine. We know that patients can successfully quit using alcohol over the short term while they’re being monitored in the hospital, but when they return home they’re exposed to environmental triggers again and the relapse rates are high.
Judging by our clinical experience in the treatment of patients suffering from depression and who have benefitted from Ketamine, there is some logic to this therapeutic trail and we look forward to the results in due course.
Dr Phil Davison, Consultant Psychiatrist is commenting following an article https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/24/radical-ketamine-therapy-could-treat-alcohol-addiction-erase-memories?CMP=twt_gu
Cardinal Clinic offers a 10 day and 14 day detox package that includes post discharge groups. If you would like more information https://cardinalclinic.co.uk/treatments/#alcoholism or call 01753 869755 and ask to speak to a member of the nursing team.