Every day, 20 veterans reportedly take their lives due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now, a party drug is proving to be a promising, yet controversial, alternative therapy to treat PTSD and depression.
For 11 years, Patrick, a former airman, suffered from PTSD. He said he got to a point where he felt he tried everything.
"I stayed home all the time,” he says. “I didn't get out the depression, the anxiety and the thoughts of suicide, every day."
Patrick says he found a glimmer of hope three months ago, when Veterans Affair signed off on an alternative treatment called ketamine therapy.
Doctors administer a very low dose of ketamine, popularly known as “Special K.”
"Basically, it's an infusion through an IV," Patrick explains.
Some users say it feels like you're experiencing an alternative reality, but it's the immediate results after treatment that has patients seeing life through a different lens.
"I feel like someone turned on the light in the dark room,” Patrick says. “That now, I can see. Now, I can really proceed with my day."
The opioid crisis has created a cause for concern for abuse of ketamine. However, Dr. Steven Levine, the CEO of Actify Neurotherapies where Patrick goes, says this treatment is different than prescription medication.
"Most importantly, if the medicine is restricted to a controlled medical setting and people don't have it at home just to take it whenever, they feel like it that makes all the difference," Dr. Levine says.
Ketamine therapy might not be for every veteran living with PTSD, but for Patrick, it gave him his life back.
"I’m just thankful this program is out there and that it works for me," he says.