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How is ketamine used in Michigan to treat mental health issues?

Posted at 5:43 AM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 07:11:31-05

Ketamine is a drug that's been making headlines in the last couple of months. It was linked to the death of "Friend's" actor Matthew Perry, and was also the subject of a 110-pound bust at Detroit Metro Airport recently.

But, what exactly is it, and where does the line blur between it being a useful medical treatment and a dangerous street drug? We're taking a look.

Since 2019, Grosse Pointe Park resident Jay Bonnell has been through a lot. He lost his right foot and left leg to diabetes, and is now fighting stage-four colon cancer.

"Mentally, I was very hard on myself and again falling into this trap of heavy duty anxiety and feeling worthless," he said.

He's also a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for over 10 years.

Bonnell said with everything that has happened to him recently, the mounting depression and anxiety started to take a toll.

"Ketamine came at just the right moment I needed to intervene," he said.

After doing his homework, Bonnell turned to Dr. Julia Aharonov, who runs the Ketamine Institute of Michigan in Farmington hills.

At the institute, they use ketamine for patients and monitor them closely while they are in a disassociative state.

"Everything has to be done correctly and in moderation, and monitored by a physician," Aharonov said.

The ketamine is administered in a low dose, very slowly through an IV, and the treatment only takes about 45 minutes.

"It works in a place in the brain where you store negative emotions. Memory of those emotions and also physical pain," Aharonov said.

"I began to see positive impact. Certainly, I would have panic attacks driving on the freeway and those went away in a period of just a few days," Bonnell said.

However, there are also cons of using ketamine.

Corewell Health Primary Care Physician Dr. Asha Shajahan said ketamine can be dangerous if used recreationally by snorting or injecting for the purpose of partying.

"It causes you not only to hallucinate, but it can make you have an out-of-body experience, which can be very dangerous," Shajahan said. "Those who are using it and do not have a prescription for it, you can not only become dependant on it, but it can alter your mind."

"If you're seeking the benefits of ketamine as opposed to just getting high, if you really want to see progress and make the benefits happen for you, do it through a clinical setting," Bonnell said.