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What is Ketamine? ‘Fatal’ depression drug found in Matthew Perry’s body


The autopsy report for Matthew Perry, stating that the actor’s cause of death was the “acute effects of ketamine,” has sparked concerns and questions about the use of this medication. As per the report, Perry was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy and had received an infusion just a week and a half before his passing. The research also listed coronary artery disease, the effects of buprenorphine, and drowning as contributory factors leading to his death. So, what is this ‘fatal’ depression drug that became the reason behind Perry’s death?

Matthew Perry arrives at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 23, 2012 (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)(REUTERS)
Matthew Perry arrives at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 23, 2012 (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)(REUTERS)

Also read: Matthew Perry death mystery solved, autopsy confirms he had ‘recreational’ drugs

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What is Ketamine?

As per the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, “Ketamine therapy is used to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, end-of-life distress, chronic pain, drug/alcohol problems, and more.” On the other hand, as per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Buprenorphine which was also found in Perry’s system is usually consumed to treat Opioid Use Disorder. The Associated Press quoted Dr. Andrew Stolbach referencing to Matthew Perry’s death “Using sedative drugs in a pool or hot tub, especially when you’re alone, is extremely risky and, sadly, here it’s fatal.”

Also read: Ketamine found in Matthew Perry’s system: What is infusion therapy and its effects?

Ketamine, also known as Ketalar, is a medicine that doctors use to make people not feel pain during surgeries. In the US, Ketamine is available on a doctor’s prescription, however, people also use it illegally owing to its dissociative nature. They might sniff it, inject it, mix it in drinks, or smoke it with other substances. ABC reports, according to StatPearls, an online resource from the National Library of Medicine, that this medication has also been used as a treatment for depression in the recent past for people who fail to respond well to conventional therapies.

How is Ketamine abused illegally?

Although ketamine has been used for many years in medicine and anesthesia, its capacity to cause heightened levels of consciousness has led to abuse. Often mixed with other drugs, especially at parties or raves, ketamine is often abused illegally. Injected, it kicks in within seconds or minutes, while snorting it takes a bit longer, around 5-15 minutes.

Ketamine overdose side effects

Ketamine overuse can have very negative effects. High dosages have the potential to cause deadly respiratory depression by drastically slowing down breathing. Further common side effects of ketamine misuse include weakness and spasms in the muscles.


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