The reception area at Field Trip Health in Santa Monica is decorated with a geometric theme inspired by the symbols and shapes repeated in nature. The company operates a dozen clinics offering psychedelic-assisted therapy across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Photo courtesy Field Trip Health.
It looks like just another nondescript office building in downtown Santa Monica. But enter the second floor, and you’ll find a setting fit for a tech company meditation retreat.
There are a living moss wall, couches lined with pink velvet pillows, carefully placed fiddle leaf fig trees, and a soundtrack of chill lo-fi beats. The setting is perfectly calculated to hint at the Age of Aquarius – in a safe way. More West Elm than Woodstock.
Welcome to Field Trip Health: LA’s high-end destination for what the company calls “ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.” It’s just one of at least a dozen clinics across the city offering the hallucinogen previously known as Special K as a treatment for depression, anxiety and a host of other ailments.
Prospective clients have their choice of style and delivery method. There are the retail clinics, where an anesthesiologist administers the drug through an IV or shot. There are also companies like Field Trip, where a more spiritual experience is encouraged. And there’s at least one botox clinic in West Hollywood that has ketamine on the menu in the same category as vitamin IV drips and cryotherapy.
Ketamine has been used as a general anesthetic since the 1970s and a party drug since the 80s. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that researchers discovered its anti-depressant effects. In 2019, the drug was FDA-approved in the form of a nasal spray called esketamine or Spravato, which is recommended for patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression or major depressive disorder with suicidal thoughts. The FDA has strict and specific guidelines for using Spravato; when patients start a course of the treatments, doctors also have to start them on a standard antidepressant, inform them of any risks and monitor them closely for side effects.
How is it legal for specialty clinics and botox centers to give ketamine to just about anyone who can afford it? Because of that FDA approval, any doctor can prescribe the drug for off-label use. Even better for psychedelic entrepreneurs, the patent for ketamine expired 40 years ago, which means it’s cheap for clinics to buy. But not so cheap for patients: A single session will set you back at least $500 dollars.
Fast forward to 2022, and this 80s club drug has fully entered the wellness space.
Mike Dow, a therapist at Field Trip Health in Santa Monica, is young, good looking and sharply dressed. He’s no stranger to the wellness industry or the media. He’s written seven books about health topics like brain fog and sugar cravings and he’s often appeared as a therapist on shows like “Dr. Oz” and “Live With Kelly.” He also happens to be a ketamine evangelist.
“Ketamine is very bio, psycho, social, spiritual,” Dow says. “It really hits all four quadrants of somebody.”
He recommends ketamine for people who’ve found western medicine to be too focused on treating the biological causes of depression, like genetically low levels of serotonin. Ketamine, he says, is a more holistic approach — perfect for a certain LA crowd.
“I think if you have a place like LA where people tend to be very open-minded, very health-oriented, they go to Earthbar or Kreation, have their green juice and don’t go to fast-food restaurants,” Dow says “I think those people also probably want to consider psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.”
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Gina Pollack on KCRW
Published: August 09, 2022
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