Is approving esketamine as an antidepressant for treatment resistant depression associated with recreational use and risk perception of ketamine? Results from a longitudinal and cross-sectional survey in nightlife attendees

Meryem Grabski, Jon Waldron, Tom P. Freeman, Margriet van Laar, H. Valerie Curran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Esketamine was licensed for use in treatment resistant depression by the European Medicines Agency in December 2019. It is unclear whether this new approval has lowered the risk perception of recreational ketamine use. This is important given a recent increase in recreational ketamine use. Methods: This study expanded on an existing longitudinal online study of the nightlife scene, by adding an additional longitudinal assessment as well as a new cross-sectional sample. Participants had to be aged 18–34 years, reside in the UK and have attended at least 6 electronic music events in the past year. The likelihood of increasing recreational ketamine use due to the approval, attitudes towards and risk perception of medical ketamine use and experiences resulting from recreational ketamine use were collected after the approval. Changes in ketamine use and frequency were assessed longitudinally before and after the approval. Results: The overall sample size was 2415: 414 longitudinal (57% retention rate) and 2001 new cross-sectional participants. The majority indicated no change in their likelihood of using recreational ketamine due to the approval of esketamine (87%). Longitudinal participants did not indicate an increase in past 12 month use or frequency after the approval. Only one-third of participants reported being aware of the approval. Participants previously aware showed greater overall support for medical use of ketamine than participants previously unaware of the change. However, an equally high risk was assigned to the recreational use of ketamine in both groups. Ketamine users indicated both increases as well as decreases in depression and anxiety as a result of ketamine use. Conclusion: The introduction of esketamine as an antidepressant was not associated with a change in the risk perception of recreational ketamine use in most participants, nor was it longitudinally associated with increased use. Potential negative effects of recreational ketamine use on mental health, as users in this sample reported, should be clearly communicated when discussing the benefits of (es-) ketamine in a therapeutic context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103612
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume102
Early online date9 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Esketamine
  • Ketamine
  • Nightlife
  • Policy change
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

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