DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A drug is being used as an unusual treatment for some with debilitating mental health concerns.
Ketamine is a psychedelic street drug that first became popular in the 1980’s. It has been used in hospitals as an anesthetic.
Recently, Ketamine is being prescribed for patients with treatment-resistant anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD and more.
Mike Laycox micro doses Ketamine. For three decades, Laycox battled bipolar disorder. He tried to live a normal daily life, but it was an exhausting façade.
“It’s mentally fatiguing,” Laycox said. “You’re worn out from wearing that mask and trying to maintain—look like you’re having a good time.”
Mike’s wife Roxy says it was a heartbreaking experience to watch.
“I know there was no joy in the day and so my prayer for him everyday was I hope he found some joy,” Roxy said.
Over the years, Mike and his doctors tried countless treatments with disappointing results. His bipolar disorder was treatment-resistant.
Day-to-day tasks like mowing the grass were nearly impossible. He knew something had to change.
“I’m really into research. And so I went to a lot of the medical blogs and the medical YouTube sites and it led me down to Ketamine,” Mike said.
As an Registered Nurse (RN) for 25 years, Mike had witnessed patients on the drug.
“Ketamine in the emergency room, we treated ketamine overdoses. So that was one of the things I kept thinking about was, this is an abused drug, how can this be,” Mike said.
Mike says he was in a “deep hole” of depression when he finally talked to his psychiatrist about what he had read. He received a referral to New Life Ketamine Clinic.
After his first micro dose infusion of ketamine, Mike claims he had hope, because something was different.
“One of the first things I did was mow my lawn. And that may sound crazy but I did not even have the mental capacity to get out and do simple things like that. Let alone inter-relate with people. And so I was mowing the lawn. I was calling people,” says Mike.
Lori Klens opened new life ketamine in 2020. She says ketamine is not a first-line treatment.
Most patients come to the clinic after trying anywhere from 3 to 25 other treatments.
“For most people, we’re their last hope,” said Klens. “And the great thing is, about 90 percent of the patients that come in here have had at least some pretty significant resolve. Most would consider this to be life changing.”
While the treatment is not yet well-known, it can be found at major research hospitals throughout the nation. At Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, ketamine trials began about two decades ago.
Dr. Subhdeep Virk currently is in charge of the treatment-resistant depression program at Wexner. Wexner program patients are required to have failed at least two different classes of medication.
“For augmentation depression, which means patients who are already taking medications that are not working for them, we add ketamine to their treatment regimen to hopefully achieve the goal of remission which is complete resolution of symptoms,” Virk said.
Many patients happen to experience a remission. As with many medical treatments, even micro dosing is not without risks.
“Because it is a controlled medication and it does have a potential for abuse we screen our patients well and educate them about the risks of not only the medication itself but combining it with other illicit drugs or combining with other medications that can cause harm.,” says Virk.
For Mike, the drug been a godsend.
While he remains on his other medications, his bipolar disorder is in full remission, allowing mike to find faith and hope in every situation.
“Now, he sees Jesus in everything. You know, he sees Jesus in the good things that happen and he sees Jesus in the bad things. And we live in a world today where if you can’t see Jesus, there’s no hope,” Roxy said.
The drug is rarely covered by medical insurance. At New Life, the $3,000 expense is entirely out- of-pocket. Patients can attempt to submit a reimbursement request.
Klens tells 2 NEWS that Medicare and Medicaid do not cover the drug.
If you are interested in pursuing ketamine as a solution for you or a loved one, you should speak with your psychiatrist.