What is ketamine and why did Matthew Perry use it?

The Los Angeles coroner determined that the cause of Matthew Perry’s death was the harmful effects of ketamine, more than a month after the actor’s death. Friends, happened on October 28.

Perry was found unconscious in the pool of his residence in the Pacific Palisades area of ​​Los Angeles. Paramedics attended the scene and declared the actor dead.

In addition to the “harmful effects” of high levels of ketamine, factors contributing to Perry’s death included drowning, coronary heart disease and the effects of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder. The death was determined to be accidental.

The coroner’s autopsy report stated that Perry was receiving ketamine infusion therapy to treat depression and anxiety, the most recent therapy being “apparently a week and a half before death.” The autopsy report indicates that ketamine was found in Perry’s system at the time of death “it couldn’t come from that infusion therapy, since the average duration of ketamine is three to four hours, or less.”

The report said that although the method of ingestion could not be determined, traces of the substance were found in Perry’s stomach.

“For the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood samples, the main lethal effects would be both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression,” the autopsy report stated.

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Perry had used drugs in the past, but He had been clean for “19 months”, according to the report. The actor had openly spoken about his struggles with addiction, dating back to his time on the hit series Friends in the 1990s.

What is ketamine and how does it work?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has some hallucinogenic effects, according to the DEA. Its medical uses include the induction and maintenance of anesthesia. It is also used as a treatment for depression.

The substance was first synthesized in 1962 and its use as an anesthetic was approved in the United States in 1970. Although it is commonly found in medications such as horse tranquilizers, it has also been used to treat smaller animals and humans for decades.

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Ketamine gained greater popularity in the 70s and 80s for its use as an illegal party drug, it was also known as ‘Special K’. Today it is still used as a recreational drug.

Some psychotherapists have claimed that the drug works similarly to other antidepressants because it stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain. It can also reduce inflammation and form new neural pathways associated with the ability to create new habits and behaviors.

Is esketamine different? Is it legal?

The FDA approved a version of ketamine called esketamine, or Spravato, in 2019. It is an inhaled version that must be administered in a doctor’s office, and is only approved for people who have undergone other treatments for depression. and they haven’t worked for them.

According to Columbia University Irving Medical Center, esketamine has been found to help reduce depression with suicidal thoughts. It is thought to work differently than traditional antidepressants, which may help those who have not responded to those treatments.

Patients typically undergo eight weeks of esketamine treatment, with several therapies per week, according to Columbia, which added that patients receiving the treatment “typically experience mild sedation and dissociation.”

Is ketamine safe to use?

Growing interest in psychedelics as a mental health treatment has fueled a boom of clinics across the U.S. promoting the substance that is well known in the club scene. Using ketamine to treat depression is legal and doctors say it can be a game-changer, but it’s also a largely unregulated industry that carries serious risks.

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According to Columbia University Irving Medical Center, ketamine is an “effective and safe anesthesia” when administered intravenously. Columbia also promotes its use to treat multiple psychotic disorders, including depression.

Since it is an FDA-approved drug, any doctor can prescribe it with, but that does not include IV ketamine, which is not approved. Columbia states that the initial infusion treatment takes place over two to three weeks, with each therapy lasting one to two hours. But they point out that, as with eskatemina, Treatment is not indicated for patients who have suffered from psychosis or are actively abusing drugs or alcohol.

And, although legal, ketamine is not approved for use as a treatment for psychiatric conditions. However, Dan Iosifescu, professor of psychiatry at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, is one of the specialists who supports its use to care for patients with mental health problems.

“People with very severe, difficult-to-treat depression could improve greatly within 24 hours after a single treatment,” he told NBC New York in May.

“Unfortunately, there are clinics that I have referred patients to that have not followed the monitoring protocols. In my opinion, that puts patients at some level of risk,” Iosifescu said.

What are the possible risks and side effects of ketamine use?

James Murrough of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is hopeful about the benefits of ketamine treatment. But he also points out that patients often need long-term treatment, which carries risks.

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“We have to think very judiciously about how much ketamine we are using, and how often to benefit a patient and maintain treatment,” Murrough said.

And he added that the drug often stops working if people don’t take it anymore. Besides, long-term recreational use at high doses can have serious side effectssuch as memory loss, mood changes, and loss of cognitive functioning.

“The rates of people developing addiction are relatively low, but we must not let our guard down,” Murrough said.

With information from NBC New York and The New York Times