Is Ketamine Assisted Therapy Safe? A Closer Look

It’s no big secret the world of psychedelic assisted therapies is undergoing a seismic shift, with effects rippling through the legal and research fields. While loosening legal guidelines and promising studies about the efficacy of psychedelic therapies makes this an exciting time, it’s understandable if you’ve wondered about the following: Is ketamine assisted therapy safe? Is it legal? Could I get addicted? What are providers doing to make sure this drug is being used safely?


There’s a lot to chew on when it comes to considering the safety of ketamine assisted psychotherapy, but for good reason- your safety, both physically and mentally, is essential. Below we’ll explore these important safety-focused questions and highlight how Intero’s approach to ketamine assisted psychedelic therapy can help you navigate this new frontier in treatment with confidence.

Is Ketamine Assisted Therapy safe?

Ketamine Assisted Therapy, when administered and supervised by trained medical professionals, is generally considered safe. Ketamine itself has been safely used for decades as an anesthetic medication during surgical procedures. The substance’s dissociative effect on patients has made it a fairly well-studied option among psychedelics, with several studies showing participants seeing improvement with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD.


That said, any substance can be dangerous when used improperly, and ketamine is no different. Some common potential dangers include:

-      Blood pressure and heart rate changes: Ketamine is known to cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure, presenting a risk for those with existing cardiovascular issues.

-      Respiratory depression: Large doses (far beyond what would typically be offered therapeutically) of ketamine can lead to slow or shallow breathing that in turn can lead to life threatening issues.

-      Mental distress: The dissociative effect of a ketamine-based psychedelic experience, while temporary, can be challenging for some to process. Ketamine use may trigger difficult or traumatic feelings and memories that are best faced with trained therapist.

Is Ketamine addictive?

Ketamine, like other substances, does pose some risk for addiction if abused. An important distinction to keep in mind when evaluating addiction risk is the type of addiction this substance poses.Unlike neurologically addictive drugs like oxycontin or morphine, which cause the body to compensate and stop producing neurotransmitters like serotonin(which in turn causes strong physical withdrawal symptoms), ketamine is considered psychologically addictive. That means it’s possible for those who have developed an unhealthy relationship with ketamine to cease use without severe physical side effects.


The risk of addiction can be mitigated substantially with proper health care provider oversight.

Is Ketamine legal?

Ketamine is considered a schedule three drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is illegal to possess and use recreationally. Legally, Ketamine can only be prescribed medically by licensed clinicians.


The Controlled Substances Act categorizes drugs and other substances into one of five sections, with only drugs listed as schedule one being considered to have no viable medical use. Schedule three acknowledges ketamine’s practical medical use and a “moderate to low” potential for physical and psychological dependence.

How does Intero ensure ketamine therapy safety?

Given that there are potential risks associated with ketamine use, it can help to understand the measures that are taken to keep ketamine assisted psychotherapy at Intero as safe as possible.

1.  By adhering to a well-designed and tested treatment process

Having a solid plan is helpful in most situations, and Intero’s approach to psychedelic assisted therapy is certainly built on a solid foundational plan. Their four-phased approach is modeled after research protocols sued by institutions like Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which provides a safe and successful clinical framework for clinicians to adhere to.

This treatment process includes up-front medical and mental health assessments, preparation visits, controlled medicine sessions and also follow-up integrative therapy sessions that all support safe and positive clinical outcomes.


For a more in-depth look at our approach, check out “4 Phases of Psychedelic Therapy: What to Expect at INTERO."

2.  Intero utilizes licensed therapists guiding your experience and trained medical staff monitoring your journey

A big portion of the risk associated with using ketamine revolves around potential adverse physiological reactions and improper dosage. At Intero, you’ll receive a medical evaluation from a trained physician prior to any medicine session in order to assess for any contraindication from a medical standpoint. If cleared to participate in a medicine session, you’ll be accompanied by this medical professional during the session where they’ll be responsible for administering your medicine and monitoring physical your status.


Of course, physiological safety isn’t the only concern–your psychological safety is equally important as well. All preparation, medicine, and follow-up integrative sessions at Intero are conducted by the same therapist so you have an established relationship with an invested and experienced therapist. A medicine session may put you in a place mentally that can be challenging as well as a source of growth, so it’s also important to know that you’ll have a familiar guide with you before, during and after the experience.

3.  By intentionally curating the therapeutic environment

Set and setting are an important part of the ketamine assisted therapy experience. This concept refers to both your physical setting and your mental approach (or mindset.) To make the most of a psychedelic experience, it’s important to have a comfortable, conducive space and an accepting and intentional mindset.


To foster this, Intero conducts medicine sessions in a comfortable clinical setting complete with cozy blankets, eye masks and personally curated music sessions that aim to enhance and encourage mental exploration. This secure and supervised setting will help you put aside your fears and fully embrace the experience.


Another equally important consideration for a medicine session is your mindset. During the preparation phase of your treatment, your therapist will explain not only the logistical considerations and expectations for the day of the session, but also how you can prepare yourself mentally. While you can’t necessarily control where a psychedelic therapy session takes you, an accepting and intentional approach to your thinking will help you make the most of a session.

A trusted guide in psychedelic therapy

Ketamine assisted psychedelic therapy is a mental health approach with great promise for many, but ketamine is also a substance that should not be used with disregard. At Intero, you’ll be in trusted hands from start to finish, ensuring you can pursue ketamine assisted psychotherapy in the safest way possible.


If you’re ready to explore your options for psychedelic therapy, visit the Get Started page to get connected with a therapist.