- Former NBA Star Lamar Odom said medically supervised ketamine therapy helps him stay sober.
- Mounting evidence suggests ketamine, often used as a party drug, can treat depression.
- Odom, who overdosed in 2015, said he no longer feels a pull to do hard drugs when he has difficult moments.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Lamar Odom said taking the hallucinogenic drug ketamine for the past two years has aided his recovery from drug addiction.
During a Monday interview on Good Morning America, the 41-year-old former NBA star said he’s “feeling amazing” since doing hour-long and medically supervised sessions where he trips on the drug.
“I don’t wake up looking to do lines … or waking up in a dark place or feeling unfulfilled,” Odom told ABC News’ Steve Osunsami.
“When Kobe [Bryant] passed away, you know, the old Lamar, that’d have been every excuse in the world for me to go get high, [but] doing drugs didn’t even enter my mind.”
Odom overdosed and experienced 12 seizures and six strokes during his stay at a Las Vegas brothel in 2015. This week, a documentary about Odom’s ketamine treatment, called “Lamar Odom Re/Born,” premieres on YouTube.
“I’m alive. I’m sober. I’m happy,” Odom told Osunsami.
Ketamine therapy could be an alternative for antidepressants
In 1970, the FDA approved ketamine as an anesthetic drug for fast-acting pain relief. Now, a mounting body of research suggests ketamine, which people often use as a party drug, can be used to treat depression.
Ketamine can be especially helpful for those who don’t respond to traditional antidepressant medications because it impacts a different area of the brain, Insider previously reported. In March 2019, the FDA approved a ketamine nasal medication called Spravato for those with antidepressant-resistant depression.
Pharmaceutical companies and tech startups have also begun to investigate the therapeutic uses of ketamine.
In fact, the entrepreneur who introduced Odom to ketamine, Mike “Zappy” Zapolin, started his own concierge service where he guides celebrities through ketamine trips, Insider previously reported. He’s also building KetaMD, a telemedicine service where doctors can guide patients virtually through trips. Companies like FieldTrip and Mindbloom offer similar services.
Treatment can cost $9,000 and can lead to side effects like blurred vision
To take ketamine for its therapeutic effects, users often have to go through legal loopholes where the drug is used “off-label,” or for mental health purposes rather than for numbing. Some clinics offer pricey ketamine infusion therapy through IVs to provide clients with this type of treatment.
Sessions usually take 45 minutes to two hours, and cost between $500 and $750 per session, Insider previously reported. Since experts recommend 8 to 12 sessions, a full treatment course can cost upwards of $9,000.
There are also potential side effects to ketamine therapy, like headaches, blurred vision, and increased heart rate, Insider previously reported.
Still, researchers believe ketamine’s potential therapeutic benefits offer “the most important discovery in half a century” in the mental health realm.
“The rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine in patients with severe, chronic, and treatment-resistant forms of this illness may represent a true medical breakthrough,” James Murrough, the director of the mood and anxiety disorders program and an associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine, wrote in an October 2018 story for Scientific American.