What Is Ketamine?

What Is Ketamine?

Is Ketamine The Answer to Veteran Suicide?

Ketamine, the veterinary anesthetic turned party drug, is a psychoactive drug that takes the user on a trip to expand their mind. Lighting up dormant parts of the brain, this drug has done wonders to kill the PTSD that the Veterans we talked to were once haunted by. As the VA comes around to endorsing this as a legitimate treatment rather than a rave party drug, many ketamine infusion therapy centers have opened across the USA. It’s time to get some basic understanding of what ketamine is and how it works and feels.

Once A Soldier offers grants to partially pay for treatment for a Veteran with PTSD

To answer our own question, we say yes, ketamine and other psychoactive drugs are better than the status quo for some Veterans. But the VA needs to gear up to be able to offer it at VA hospitals around the nation. Prices at private practices are out of reach for most. Veteran families are no different. Having the VA launch a new ketamine program is essential before we take another 17/day of Veteran suicides.

Ketamine Definition

Ketamine is a medicine historically used for anesthesia during surgeries and medical procedures. It was synthesized in the 1960s and is FDA-approved for procedural sedation and anesthesia. It is widely used in hospitals and ERs and is on the World Health Organization’s “List of Essential Medicines.” Ketamine is now being used “off-label” to treat depression, as well as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some chronic pain disorders. This medication has a long track record for its safety when used appropriately.

How Does Ketamine Work?

The exact mechanism of how ketamine works in depression, anxiety, and chronic pain is not fully known. (Honestly, we don’t care how it works, just that it does work. Besides, we’re only using, what 4% of our brains, we can’t possibly figure it out yet.) However, scientists do know that ketamine works on the NMDA receptor to block the glutamate neurotransmitter. And scientific study is showing ketamine improves the health of the neurons (brain cells) by increasing the connection between the neurons and improving the brain’s ability to adapt (aka neuroplasticity).

UPDATED: New study from the University of Chicago

A recent study performed at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) finally detailed the mechanism of how ketamine dampens the symptoms of depression and keeps it at bay. It turns out, it works in a remarkably similar fashion to SSRIs, the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants. Read their paper: NMDAR-independent, cAMP-dependent antidepressant actions of ketamine.

Ketamine also changes the way the central nervous system processes pain, so it’s like hitting the reset button on your computer, to restore normal pain processing. Research is also showing in animal models, the potential for ketamine to increase resilience and recovery from stressful traumatic events which can trigger or cause depression and anxiety disorders.

Furthermore, ketamine decreases activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain, which is more active in those with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

What Does a Ketamine Infusion or IV-drip Therapy Feel Like?

For some people they can experience positive effects within an hour of finishing the infusion. For others, they will not notice an effect until after their fourth or fifth infusion. Commonly the effect is gradual and subtle, noticing thoughts of sadness and hopelessness to begin to lift and go away. Occasionally some people may have a dramatic effect. Function (going out, doing things you enjoy, work) improve before mood does. With improved function you are able to more fully participate and engage in your treatment plan, thus improving your success rate.

Other Psychelics That Help With PTSD

Psychedelics, also known as psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens, or hallucinogenic drugs are chemical substances that induce hallucinations and other sensory disturbances.

Psychedelic – relating to or denoting drugs that produce hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness. Psychedelics were originally called ‘Psychotomimetics’ by the scientific community (mimicking the effect of a psychotic state). In 1956, Humphry Osmond coined the term Psychedelic (‘Mind Manifesting’ in Greek) in a letter to writer Aldous Huxley.

Entheogen – a psychoactive substance that induces alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behaviofor the purposes of engendering spiritual development in sacred contexts.

Psilocybin – a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms.

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) – a chemical substance that occurs in many plants and animals and which is both a derivative and a structural analog of tryptamine.[3] It can be consumed as a psychedelic drug and has historically been prepared by various cultures for ritual purposes as an entheogen. DMT has a rapid onset, intense effects, and a relatively short duration of action.

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) – also known colloquially as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug.Effects typically include altered thoughts, feelings, and awareness of one’s surroundings.

About Once a Soldier

Once a Soldier’s mission is to help the families after a soldier suicide. Most soldier suicides are performed by veterans who have lost touch with the VA and their families won’t be getting any financial help from the government at this critical time. Even when they do, the support is limited. We aspire to fill or close that gap especially when it comes to the heartbreak of paying funeral costs. But this post aspires to be a place where someone in need RIGHT NOW can get some help for themselves or for a loved one who’s thinking about suicide.

Get The Most From Your Ketamine Infusion

Get The Most From Your Ketamine Infusion

Three Concepts to Adopt Before Any Trippy Treatment

During a ketamine infusion (or micro dosing any psilocybin), it can be so easy to feel lost or confused. Because of ketamine’s dissociative properties, there is a chance you may see or feel things that could remind you of painful memories or traumas. But you know who and/or what they, so don’t let them control you. You need to be both passive and active during your trip to heal yourself.


This is why it’s important to have the right mindset and incorporate good practices to keep you anchored and focused. Here are three navigation tools you should master before your treatment. You will need to use these during a ketamine infusion to help you get the full benefits.

ketamin iv drip

Prepare To Defeat Your PTSD Demons


Concept #1: Witness

The first concept is witnessing. By witnessing, I mean being the observer of whatever is coming up for you during that experience. You don’t necessarily have to get entangled with the experience, but simply be a witness. Remember that ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning that you’re going to be disconnecting the mind from the body. This means you will be able to observe and witness from that third party perspective.

Concept #2: Breathe

Another important and sometimes underestimated tool is breathing. In the field of emergency medicine, we talk about something called the ABC’s which means the Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. We all know we need to breathe to live, but what’s really fascinating is that the breath is both within your unconscious and conscious . For example, if you don’t think about breathing, then your body is going to unconsciously do it for you. But at the same time, you can influence and control your breathing.

Whenever something unpleasant comes up or you’re having a challenging ketamine experience, remember to take some deep breaths. When you take these deep, slow breaths, it actually increases your parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of your autonomic nervous system that allows you to rest and relax. It’s the opposite of that fight or flight response. So when you’re doing these deep breathing exercises, it’ll help you calm down.

Concept #3: Surrender

Finally, the third concept to incorporate is surrender. This means letting go of control, allowing and accepting whatever comes. When I say the word “surrender,” I don’t mean giving up because there’s a subtle difference. Surrendering is allowing and accepting whatever may happen and but also not resisting it. Trust that the ketamine is going to work for you. Trust that your unconscious mind will take you where you need to go. Simply allow, experience, and know that whatever happens is going to be what’s best for you.

Learning to surrender is no easy feat, especially because as humans, we want everything to be under our control. We want things to go the way we want them to go, we want to heal as quickly as possible, and so on. Which is why we encourage you to practice learning how to surrender before you step into the clinic. By incorporating good, mindful habits such as meditation and journaling, you’ll be able to understand the concept of surrendering more and keep yourself mentally strong throughout the treatment.

My thanks to Samuel Ko, MD, FACEP for his blog post where we found this.


Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

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Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.