In the realm of mental health treatment, the exploration of alternative therapies has led to the emergence of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) as a promising avenue for those seeking relief from conditions like depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. However, within the realm of ketamine administration, there are several routes to consider: intravenous (IV), sublingual, intranasal, and intramuscular (IM). At Intero, we use IM administration during our active medicine session in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. KAP, as practiced at Intero, is a method that ensures safety and facilitates lasting therapeutic results, administered by a medical professional and therapist.

Keep reading to learn more about the different administrative methods for ketamine, or get started with Intero here.

Ketamine Administration Methods

1. Intravenous (IV) Administration: IV administration involves the direct infusion of ketamine over 40 minutes into the bloodstream through a vein. This method typically results in rapid onset of effects, with clients experiencing the full effects of ketamine within minutes. While IV administration offers precise dosing and immediate onset, it requires skilled medical personnel for insertion and monitoring, and there's a potential for adverse effects such as vascular injury or infection.

2. Sublingual Administration: Sublingual administration involves placing ketamine under the tongue, where it is absorbed through the mucous membranes into the bloodstream. This method offers a non-invasive alternative to IV and IM administration but has a slower onset, generally within 10 minutes. However, absorption rates may vary between individuals, and the taste and discomfort associated with sublingual administration can be off-putting for some clients.

3. Intranasal Administration: Intranasal administration involves the insufflation of ketamine powder through the nasal passages, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal mucosa. This method offers a convenient and relatively non-invasive route of administration, with clients experiencing effects within minutes. However, variability in absorption rates and potential irritation of the nasal passages are factors to consider with intranasal administration.

4. Intramuscular (IM) Administration: IM administration entails the injection of ketamine directly into the muscle tissue, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. The onset of ketamine is about 2-3 minutes after injection, and reaches peak intensity in about 10-15 minutes. IM ketamine is administered by trained medical professionals, ensuring safety and minimizing the risk of adverse reactions. Some individuals who receive ketamine via IM administration may feel some pain or irritation at the injection site.

Intramuscular (IM) Administration of Ketamine at Intero

While each route of administration has its merits, IM ketamine has emerged as the preferred choice for several reasons. For the Intero ketamine-assisted psychotherapy process, we have determined that IM ketamine administration is the most suitable choice to offer our clients for these reasons:

• IM ketamine administration reduces the medicalization of KAP as much as possible while also immersing the client into the experience as quickly as possible.

• Though IM administration of ketamine does involve an injection in the deltoid muscle of the upper arm with a small needle, this injection occurs quickly and, unlike IV administration of ketamine, does not require the client to be connected to an IV line for the duration of the session. This means that during an IM session, the client can position their body comfortably without having to worry about holding their arm in just the right position for the IV line. Unlike sublingual ketamine sessions in which the client must hold the ketamine troche in their mouth for 10-15 minutes while it dissolves, which can be uncomfortable or even anxiety provoking for some individuals, clients are able to lay back and relax immediately for an IM session.

• Once ketamine has been administered for an IM session the onset is relatively rapid, within 2-3 minutes. Because the entire dose is administered at once (rather than an IV administration, in which the dose is infused over 40 minutes), IM administration of ketamine tends to provoke a more robust experience, enabling the dissociative and psychedelic natures of ketamine to be experienced. IM administration of ketamine is regarded as the most “intense” route of administration due to its rapid onset; however, the medical providers at Intero work with each client to determine an appropriate dose which will provide a therapeutic experience without being overwhelming.

In addition to the mode of administration, the integration of therapy into the ketamine experience is paramount for achieving lasting therapeutic outcomes. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy at Intero, conducted in collaboration between a medical professional and a therapist, provides a supportive and structured environment for clients to explore their inner landscapes and process difficult emotions. By combining the neurobiological effects of ketamine with the insights gained through therapy, clients can uncover deep-seated patterns and beliefs, paving the way for profound healing and transformation.

Learn more about the crucial role integration plays in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy at Intero here.

While the choice of ketamine administration route may vary depending on individual preferences and clinical considerations, IM ketamine administered within the context of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy stands out as a safe and effective option for those seeking relief from mental health conditions. By combining precise dosing and the integration of therapy, we believe that this approach offers the best chance for achieving lasting results and promoting holistic well-being.

If you’re considering ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment option, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our approach and how we can support you on your journey towards healing and transformation.

Take the first step here!