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Midtown clinic becomes first in New York to use ketamine to treat alcoholism

Ketamine gaining popularity as treatment for alcoholism
Ketamine gaining popularity as treatment for alcoholism 02:15

NEW YORK -- A drug that was once taboo is gaining popularity in the medical field.

Ketamine has been used to treat mood and stress-related disorders, and now, a clinic in the city is using the psychedelic to help people suffering from alcoholism, CBS2's Christina Fan reported Tuesday.

An old drug with a reputation for misuse is getting new use inside a Midtown clinic. Ketamine, known for its hallucinogenic effects, is now helping patients overcome alcohol addiction.

"There is usually an insight to be gleaned. What did you learn from your journey today?" said Jay Godfrey, co-founder of Nushama Psychedelic Wellness.

Godfrey's clinic is the first in New York to offer ketamine-assisted therapy for alcohol-use disorder.

Unlike other treatments that focus on abstaining, this treatment combines drugs and therapy to tackle the source of addiction.

"This is about using psychedelic medicine to create an experience where the patient can play the witness and see the underlying condition that caused them to numb with alcohol," Godfrey said.

Research by Awakn Life Sciences in the UK found the drug much more effective than other options like rehab or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Clinical trials showed an 86 percent abstinence rate six months post-treatment.

"We are using drugs to disrupt the brain circuits that house the behaviors that drive the addiction," said Anthony Tennyson, CEO of Awakn Life Sciences.

Ketamine is already widely used for treating other mental health disorders like depression. Madline Rosario, a breast cancer survivor, said she experienced suicidal thoughts after her diagnosis.

"Rather than focusing so much on the what if, what if it comes back in the future of body image and anxiety, now I am able to think about those things for a moment, but then I can let go," Rosario said.

An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from alcoholism.

Researchers hope the expansion of ketamine's use can provide a chance for them to live a healthier life, too. 

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