Treatments for Alcoholism: Could Ketamine Impact Memory Formation to Help Sustain Sobriety?


Alcohol addiction is a widespread disorder that has presented itself as being extremely difficult to treat. Currently, there are very few effective treatments available. The most common are therapy, detox, and rehabilitation, 12-step programs, or several different prescription drugs. Scientists, however, believe that they may have found an innovative breakthrough for treating alcoholism.

Studies have found that using the drug ketamine may help disrupt harmful patterns of behaviors associated with alcoholism. Ketamine could essentially “rewire” drinking-related memories and reduce alcohol intake.

This treatment option is innovative because current therapies do not target the positive memories created while drinking alcohol. These are the memories people create when they associate alcohol with good feelings. As a result, certain environmental cues become ingrained in the minds of alcoholics, which can trigger cravings—and make it really hard for an individual to remain sober.

Researchers at the University College London identified that ketamine could be used to target these memories and overwrite them. The science behind the use of ketamine it that it targets a brain receptor known at NMDA—the receptor that is responsible for the creation of memories. The research suggests that if a person is administered ketamine as a memory is destabilized, it makes the memory weaker, or completely erases it altogether.

In their study, the researchers introduced a trigger to participants that would recall a positive feeling about drinking. Once the memories were present, the participants were administered an infusion of ketamine. The study found that those who were administered ketamine upon the recall of a positive drinking-related memory dramatically reduced their overall alcohol consumption.

More research needs to be conducted on the use of ketamine in relation to treating alcoholism, however it is a promising option and certainly worth investing more time in researching.

In the meantime, ketamine remains a viable and highly-effective treatment option for those suffering from depression, anxiety, psychiatric disorders to chronic pain conditions. If you are curious about ketamine infusions and interested in learning more, our Fayetteville area ketamine clinic is happy to answer your questions. Contact us today!


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