Special K isn’t just a party drug for ravers anymore.
Field Trip Health, a psychedelics-assisted therapy company based in Canada, hosted a grand opening for its first ketamine clinic in Toronto last week. Its services are geared toward helping patients struggling with treatment-resistant anxiety and depression.
Ketamine is traditionally used by veterinarians as a surgical anesthetic for animals like cats and horses. But in recent years, research indicates that it could be effective at treating psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or post-traumatic stress in humans.
Ketamine is unusual compared to other psychedelics, like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, in that it doesn’t cause a person to experience a full-blown trip with visual and audio hallucinations. Instead, it instills a sense of dissociation, where one feels emotionally or even physically disconnected from their environment, their past, and even their own thoughts — thus why it's classified as a "dissociative."
“We want to provide your brain an opportunity to disassociate,” Dr. Michael Verbora, MD told VICE. Verbora is a family medicine practitioner who also serves as Field Trip’s medical director.
With a high enough dose, an individual may experience a severe form of dissociation known on the streets as a “k-hole.” While in the k-hole, a person may become temporarily paralyzed as they vacantly stare into space. Some ketamine users describe the k-hole as feeling as if they’ve died, only to feel reborn, in a sense, when they snap out of the k-hole.
“There may be some darkness that you have to kind of face,” Verbora said regarding the ketamine experience. “If it requires it, and it's appropriate, then yeah, [the patient will] have a psychedelic experience. We don’t view that as a negative experience.”
To qualify for Field Trip’s ketamine-assisted psychotherapy sessions, a patient must first receive a written suggestion for ketamine from a licensed medical doctor in Canada. After passing an initial assessment, the patient can expect to attend a total of 8 to 10 sessions before concluding treatment, VICE reported. Each session costs about $200-$400 CAD, depending on whether the session includes a dose of ketamine or not.
"Ketamine has been identified by the former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health as one of the most important breakthroughs in antidepressant treatment in decades,” Verbora said in a press release. Although ketamine’s effectiveness for depression remains contentious in the US, President Trump recently ordered a large quantity of a ketamine nasal spray to be dispensed to military veterans through the VA.
If all goes according to plan, Field Trip will offer other psychedelics through its clinics, too. “As new molecules or classic psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA get approved or legalized,” Verbora continued, “we will begin to incorporate them into the practice, as well."
Field Trip may expand its operations in the near future beyond offering new psychedelic substances. Its two new locations, if approved, will be located in Los Angeles and New York City. So hopefully Americans will be able to benefit from its services soon, too.