Ketamine Infusions: A Step-By-Step Guide Before Your First Visit
Prior to getting your first ketamine infusions, you will need some preparation. The clinician administering ketamine therapy will likely outline all the steps you need to take to prepare you for your ketamine sessions. However, it is worth highlighting these steps here, so that you understand the full picture of ketamine therapy. Also, this guide will serve as an easy reminder of the key points to keep in mind before your ketamine-assisted therapy. This will ensure that your treatment goes as smoothly as possible.
Research Ketamine Therapy
Before your first ketamine infusion, you’ll want to read up on ketamine therapy as much as you can. This should involve learning about:
- The complete process of ketamine therapy
- All of the effects and possible side-effects of ketamine
- Scientific research on ketamine therapy
- The success rate of treatment
Knowing all of this information will give you a greater sense of confidence about your decision to start ketamine therapy.
Fast Before Receiving Ketamine Infusions
Ideally, you should avoid eating or drinking at least three hours before receiving any ketamine infusions. This is because one of the side effects of these psychedelics is nausea and vomiting. Due to this side effect, you want your stomach to be completely empty before beginning ketamine therapy.
It would be risky if you experienced vomiting during a ketamine infusion. This could result in the contents of your stomach going down your airway and impairing your breathing. This is known as aspiration. It increases the risk of pneumonia, as well as other problems.
Avoid Using Certain Substances Before Ketamine Therapy
The risks of ketamine therapy can increase if you have other substances present in your system before treatment. This is known as contraindication. It’s when a condition or factor makes a certain medical treatment risky. There are some substances you should avoid using before ketamine therapy. These include alcohol and caffeine.
When you combine alcohol with ketamine, it can cause serious issues.
- Dangerously slowed breathing
- Cardiovascular effects, such as high blood pressure, heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, and chest pain
- Cardiac arrest (if the dose of alcohol is high enough)
- Increased risk of nausea and vomiting
- A fatal reaction (if you are a chronic alcoholic and take ketamine while intoxicated)
When combining caffeine with ketamine, the result can be some of the following:
- An increase in stimulant effects
- An increase in the risk of a lethal reaction, suggesting a potentially toxic interaction between the two drugs
To feel as comfortable as possible during ketamine therapy, it is best to abstain from all drugs before treatment. This will ensure that you don’t have to experience any unpleasant physical and subjective effects. If you are taking any medications, it is best to consult with your prescribing physician and the clinician providing ketamine therapy. They will be able to judge whether your medication adds any risk to treatment. You may need to discontinue some medications before receiving ketamine-assisted therapy.
Practice Self-Care Before Receiving Ketamine Infusions
Before receiving ketamine infusions, you should be prepared for some physical and subjective effects. At a sufficient dose, ketamine can have psychedelic side effects that alter perception, thoughts, and mood. Depending on your condition and treatment plan, you may receive a fairly high dose of ketamine. This is quite common when receiving ketamine assistance. In this case, more intense subject effects may arise, such as hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and mystical-type experiences (e.g. ego dissolution and losing your sense of time and space).
Like with all psychedelic experiences, you want to prepare your mind for the journey. This should involve certain self-care practices, ensuring that you are well-rested, calm, and in the right frame of mind before the experience. These practices may include the following:
- Ensuring a good night’s sleep before the day of treatment
- Eating well in the days leading up to ketamine therapy
- Journalling and reflecting about your intentions — what you want to get out of the experience
Practicing self-care in this way will set you up for a more positive and easier-to-navigate experience. Even so, having a “bad trip” can lead to positive results.
Discuss Ketamine Infusions With a Loved One
It’s important for you to be supported throughout the process of ketamine therapy. You’ll naturally want to talk about treatment before it begins and after your ketamine infusion sessions. Be sure to find someone who you can trust to talk about these experiences, who can provide emotional support if necessary.
You’ll also need someone to pick you up after each infusion, as ketamine can have some residual effects, making you unfit to drive. See if any of your loved ones has a flexible schedule who can assist with transportation.
Consider Talk Therapy
Since ketamine infusions can offer an intense psychedelic experience, a lot of meaningful material may manifest during your experience. If you are opting for ketamine therapy because you have underlying mental health issues, such as depression or PTSD, part of your healing may involve working with the material that arises.
However, it can be hard to make complete sense of your experiences on your own. For this reason, it may be helpful to work with a psychotherapist at the same time you are undergoing this type of psychedelic therapy. This will help you to make the most out of your ketamine treatment.
Adjust Your Schedule
Ketamine infusions require a significant amount of time. For most diagnoses, the standard protocol is to administer six infusions over a period of two weeks. Each session lasts around two hours. Then you have to factor in the time needed to get to the ketamine clinic, getting home, and then resting. Based on the time commitments of ketamine therapy, you should adjust your schedule at work and in terms of your other commitments.
Also, if possible, it is best to reduce any stresses at work or home during this period. You want to feel as relaxed as possible before, during, and after ketamine therapy.
Ketamine therapy is a relatively new treatment. You may be a bit nervous about beginning treatment, based on the thought of taking a new drug, especially one that can create psychedelic effects and a feeling of dissociation. However, by following the above steps, you can better prepare yourself for the experience and put your mind at ease.