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Ketamine to be made available for alcoholics in the UK

Ketamine to be made available for alcoholics in the UK

It will be administered alongside therapy in the largest-ever trial of its kind.

Ketamine will available as part of a landmark clinical trial for treatment for alcoholism in the UK.

While the drug will only be available to a limited number of people at this stage, it will be used by the University of Exeter to conduct potentially game-changing research.

At the seven NHS sites, researchers will try to determine if using ketamine and therapy as part of alcoholism treatment can increase a person's ability to stay sober.

Ketamine - a powerful anaesthetic - is currently a Class B drug in the UK.

Ketamine could play a key role in helping some alcoholics recover.
Alamy / Phanie

Professor Celia Morgan, who is behind the research, said it comes amid an 'urgent need' for new alcoholism treatments.

The project got the green light after a phase two trial deemed it safe to treat alcoholism with a combination of ketamine and therapy.

If the results of an earlier study are anything to go by, ketamine could be a landmark treatment.

A previous study found that a combination of the drug and therapy helped participants suffering stay sober, with 86 percent of people avoiding a relapse into alcoholism after six months.

The upcoming study - if successful - could therefore see the drug available on the NHS if its results are convincing.

Early results suggest that ketamine could be hugely helpful in this area.
Alamy / Axel Bueckert

Professor Morgan, of the University of Exeter, said: "More than two million UK adults have serious alcohol problems, yet only one in five of those get treatment.

"Three out of four people who quit alcohol will be back drinking heavily after a year.

"Alcohol problems affect not only the individual but families, friends and communities, and related deaths have increased still further since the pandemic.

"We urgently need new treatments."

To put the scale of the UK's alcoholism problem into context, the professor noted that is currently setting the alone NHS back around £3.5 billion a year.

The drug will be used alongside therapy to treat alcoholism.
Alamy / Tero Vesalainen

However, should ketamine be rolled out as a treatment for alcoholism, this will not be its first clinical use.

The drug - which is popular in the illegal market - is currently available as a pain relief treatment and anaesthetic.

The upcoming trial will involve 280 people and it will see them split into two groups.

One of the groups will have their alcoholism treated with the ketamine dose that was previously effective in an earlier trial and therapy.

The second, meanwhile, will be given a smaller dose of the drug and a seven-session course about alcoholism and its dangers.

Researchers will then determine if those given a combination of therapy and ketamine have a better chance of recovering.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: UK News