How Culture and Psychiatry View Ketamine Therapy

Medically reviewed by 
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Published on 
December 16, 2022
Updated on 


  • Modern culture and clinical psychiatry have some differing views on ketamine.
  • This leads to several myths and misunderstandings of ketamine.
  • Ketamine was first a therapeutic medicine, long before some considered it a party drug.
  • Ketamine was developed for human use, and later was used in veterinary medicine.
  • Clinical use greatly reduces the risk and experience of ‘K-Holes.’

There are many differing perspectives on ketamine. Some focus on its use as a surgical anesthetic. Others as a recreational drug found at parties.

These differing perspectives can lead to myths, misunderstandings, and misconceptions.

Ketamine has a long history of medical use. In the 1970’s, Ketamine emerged as a vital medication in operating rooms as an anesthetic. This was after Ketamine was used on the battlefield during the Vietnam War. 

In 2000, Yale researchers began to research Ketamine’s effects on healing depression. In some cases, subjects experienced relief from depressive symptoms within 24 hours.

Since then, there has been a vast body of research demonstrating ketamine’s effectiveness in treating mental health issues.

There are many myths about ketamine. This has shaped public perception of ketamine and leaves people skeptical of its therapeutic use.

This piece explores 3 core myths and misunderstandings of ketamine.

Myth # 1 - Ketamine is a party drug, not a therapeutic drug

Ketamine emerged as a party drug in clubs and raves beginning in the 1980’s.

Ketamine has dissociative properties. It can create a desirable, mind altering experience for drug experimentalists. Ketamine is typically recreationally consumed in crowded, unstructured environments, with unknown quantities and varying levels of purity. 

The psychiatric administration of ketamine has key differences from ketamine’s recreational use. Clinicians titrate your dosing to maximize safety and effectiveness in treating your mental health condition, the ketamine prescribed is medical grade, of a known dose.

Mindbloom prescribes ketamine treatment from the safety and comfort of your own home.

Mindbloom legally prescribes ketamine with the intent of alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms. Through careful titration, we determine the appropriate dosing that positively impacts a client’s mental health.

Myth #2: Ketamine is a horse tranquilizer, not a medicine for humans

Often spoken about in humorous undertones, the horse tranquilizer reputation stems from ketamine’s use as an anesthetic in veterinary clinics.

While ketamine is used in veterinary settings, it was originally synthesized and used for treating humans in surgical procedures as an anesthetic. Although ketamine was not initially developed for use in veterinary practice, it has become essential and used as a primary anesthetic in veterinary practice around the world.

Myth #3: You need to go into a K-hole to benefit from ketamine

A K-hole is a state of mind that results in:

  • High levels of dissociation
  • An inability to safely interact with your surroundings
  • Disruptions in motor functioning such as balance impairment

Mindbloom is careful to avoid this experience, and it is unlikely to occur when working with a clinical care team, following the dosing protocols, and ensuring a safe set and setting for your experiences.

We safeguard the ketamine experience through a variety of ways including:

  • Ketamine is taken in a safe, clinician approved setting
  • Our clinicians prescribe, measure, and titrate doses
  • Prescribed to prevent high levels of dissociation
  • We closely monitor the medicine’s effect on our clients

Additionally, we create supportive containers through our guide program and integration circles.

Ketamine benefits clients even at lower doses. If disassociation does not occur during an experience, there is still the activation of neuroplasticity and healing of depression symptoms.


Ketamine has been stereotyped as an experimental drug. However, there is a vast body of clinical evidence that supports ketamine as a safe treatment option for mental health conditions.

It is always useful to remember that for much of the medical and clinical world, ketamine is looked at favorably enough to be included on the WHO’s List of Essential Medications.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

Take Control of Your Mental Health

Taking control of your mental health is possible, find out it ketamine treatment can help you.

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