One of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the option to consult with healthcare practitioners virtually. Also known as “telemedicine,” this method of care has persisted largely out of convenience for the patient. After all, it is quite nice to be able to take care of a routine health screening or obtain a refill on medication without having to leave the house. But should this convenience extend to something like ketamine therapy? Let’s discuss whether or not at home ketamine treatment is truly a safe option.
How Does At Home Ketamine Treatment Work, Exactly?
Companies offering at home ketamine treatment plans generally follow a similar formula:
- Consult with a “licensed ketamine clinician” via Zoom or another online platform
- Receive a box in the mail with your ketamine dose and other materials
- Schedule a virtual session with a “certified ketamine guide”
- Complete the session on your couch, bed, or other comfortable spot in your home while wearing a sleep mask
You are also typically given access to online support forums or 1:1 coaching support (usually for an additional fee).
So, What’s Wrong with Remote Ketamine Therapy?
That all sounds pretty straight forward, right? Even appealing? You’re in a familiar, comfortable environment being monitored by a skilled professional. What could go wrong?
A lot, actually. There are a few things that are inherently risky about this whole at home ketamine treatment idea. Some of the most problematic include:
Lack of Medical Supervision
One of the primary concerns with remote ketamine therapy is the lack of direct medical supervision. While you are, technically, being monitored, there is no one physically present to assist you.
Ketamine is a powerful dissociative anesthetic that, when administered improperly, can lead to a range of side effects, from mild discomfort to more severe reactions. Even when taken correctly, you can still have side effects or an experience that is frightening or confusing.
In an office setting, trained medical professionals are readily available to monitor the patient’s physical and emotional state, ensuring their safety throughout the session. Remote sessions lack this essential oversight, increasing the risk of adverse reactions going unnoticed and the potential for a negative experience.
Risk of Injury
As a dissociative drug, ketamine has the potential to cause you to see, hear, or feel things that are not there. You may be tempted to walk around or even go outside. In this state, you are at risk for injury caused by your altered perception. Without a licensed clinician to ensure you remain sitting or lying down, you could find yourself in any number of dangerous scenarios.
At Home Ketamine Treatment Means Limited Emergency Response
In the rare event of a medical emergency or adverse reaction during a ketamine session, in-office settings are equipped to respond swiftly and effectively. They have immediate access to emergency medical services and medications to counteract any severe side effects. Remote sessions, on the other hand, may lack these resources, potentially putting patients at risk if something were to go wrong.
Lack of Psychological Support
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is not solely about the administration of the drug. It is a holistic treatment that includes psychological support and integration to help patients process their experiences. In an office setting, therapists and medical professionals are readily available to provide this support, addressing any concerns that may arise during the session.
At home ketamine treatment relies predominantly on group forums, leaving professional guidance out of the picture entirely. You may follow up with a clinician, but you are usually charged for personalized counseling through your therapy. You will also not necessarily have the same guide each time, which is not ideal. Proper counseling depends on establishing trust with someone who knows you personally, not someone who was available that day.
Risk of Diversion and Misuse
With most at home ketamine treatment programs, you will receive all of your doses at once in the mail. This greatly increases the risk for misuse of the drug, either intentionally or unintentionally.
At Home Ketamine Treatment is Too Risky
While ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental health conditions, it should only be done in an office setting. Your physical and emotional well being should not be left to a person who is not in the room with you. Your provider must be able to ensure proper dosing, monitor you for side effects, and prevent you from making unsafe decisions. None of these tasks can be adequately accomplished in a virtual setting.
If you are interested in pursuing ketamine assisted psychotherapy in Destin, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. Our licensed providers perform a thorough assessment and will work closely with you before, during, and after your treatment. Call or go online to get started.