February 26, 2020

The Effect of Ketamine on the Teenage Brain and Body
Our biggest concern is the use of ketamine among adolescents, whose brains are still developing. The toxin may inflict more damage to the brain, and without early intervention, we are afraid it may result in permanent brain damage.”

~Dr. Mohammad Hussain Habil, Director of the University Malaya Centre for Addiction Science Research

Ketamine is listed by the World Health Organization as an “essential medicine”, and has legitimate use as an anesthetic., However, “Special K” is also popular among teenagers and young adults as a recreational party drug.

But teens who take the drug for its hallucinatory and psychedelic effects may be damaging themselves far more than they know.

Ketamine and the Teenage Brain

Researchers in China have discovered that ketamine abuse may lead to irreparable brain damage. In fact, a 2009 study links use of the drug to dementia. Monkeys who were given  daily doses showed a noticeable progression.

One-Month Benchmark:

  • Slower movements
  • Decreased mobility
  • Impaired coordination
  • Extreme introversion

Three-Month Benchmark:

  • Hyperactivity in the area of the brain associated with judgment and the regulation of emotions
  • Impairment in the cerebellum, which controls coordination
  • “Tangled” neural proteins

This tangling of the “tau” protein is one of the identified markers of Alzheimer’s disease.Dr. David Yew Tai-wai, a Professor of Anatomy at China University’s School of Biomedical Sciences, concluded,

“We are quite certain that ketamine abuse will lead to dementia, with a possibility of Alzheimer’s disease. The damages to neurons, as we understand, are permanent and irreversible.”

A later study concluded that abuse could also result in behavioral abnormalities and both memory and learning disorders in children. Teenagers may also be at risk, because the brain keeps developing into the early 20s.

Most frightening of all, it can cause brain damage in the form of Olney’s lesions – literally, holes in the brain’s white matter.

Ketamine and the Teenage Bladder

While the drug’s effects on the brain are profound, the potential damage to the abuser’s bladder is just as serious.Chronic abuse can lead to ketamine-related cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder that can be debilitating.  Up to 30% of ketamine abusers will experience:

  • Scarring of the bladder and the ureters
  • Severe bladder pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Loss of up to 90% of the bladder’s capacity to hold urine
  • Obstruction that can lead to kidney failure

In advanced cases, merely stopping the use of ketamine isn’t enough. Surgery may be required, and if the damage is too expensive, the patient’s bladder may need to be removed. In other words, if the ketamine abuse has gone on long enough, the damage is irreversible.

The misuse of any drug can have serious consequences for the abuser’s mental and physical health. If your teenager is abusing ketamine or any other substance, Teensavers, alcohol and drug treatment centers in Orange County, California, can help.

For over 35 years, Teensavers has been the go-to resource in California for teens in crisis because of addictive or behavioral disorders. By focusing on your child’s unique needs AS a teenager, Teensavers can help restore balance to your family’s lives. Make the call today to get the information and support you need.

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