mental health

Inside a posh “Special K” therapeutic retreat

Inside a posh "Special K" therapeutic retreat
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Candace Moore, a 37-year-old California resident, “injected drugs” into her neck for five years while suffering from mental illness.

She eventually kicked the habit, turning to a range of prescribed medications and therapeutic treatments to try and help her overcome post-traumatic stress and major depressive mood disorder during a long battle. against mental health.

“Nothing really seemed to have a significant improvement,” Moore recently told the Post, explaining that she could never “get a proper diagnosis or a proper treatment.”

“Modern medicine will just spend 15 minutes with you and say, ‘Oh, you’re bipolar.’ ”

She says the breakthrough that changed her life came from an unexpected source: combination therapy with ketamine, a drug known on the streets as a horse tranquilizer called “Special K” – and courtesy from a doctor ready to offer the treatment in a boutique hotel at the base of Northern California’s famous redwoods.

Once better known as a club and rave drug, the synthesized molecule and anesthetic drugs are now widely used to treat desperate mental health patients struggling with issues such as depression, anxiety, depression alcohol abuse, prolonged grief and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It can be legally prescribed in all 50 states, and its growing medicinal popularity seems to be epitomized by the swanky new immersive therapy retreat overseen by Dr. Carrie Griffin, a 39-year-old osteopath.

For $2,995, well-heeled patients will be able to embark on a three-day “ketamine intermuscular journey” beginning in June under Griffin’s care at the historic Scotia Lodge at the Giants Avenue entrance.

The experience is complemented by guided musical art and talk therapy sessions, as well as tub soaking treatments, hemp-infused facials, and massages.

Organizers say the psychedelic healing trip, designed for six to 18 clients at a time, is the first of its kind in the United States, comparing it to similar excursions offered in destinations including Costa Rica and Panama.

The retreats will be led by Griffin, who an emotional Moore enthusiastically described to the Post as “the incredible soul that I feel has actually given me the opportunity to live.”

Retreat guests will pay $2,995 for a three-day immersive ketamine therapy session at a boutique hotel.
Leon Villagomez

Griffin said his site experience will be tailored to the setting, the recently reclaimed stately and rustic hotel.

“When you’re using a substance like ketamine or any other psychedelic and you go into a non-ordinary space, if you’re in a highly stimulating environment, all of your stimuli are going to interact with your newly altered consciousness, and that can create experiences. quite terrifying,” she said.

Griffin explained how this kind of harrowing experience differs from one in a supervised setting with a licensed therapist, nurse practitioner, or doctor.

“There is hopefully a level of safety and security that already for heavily traumatized people who lack a strong sense of internal security – that in itself starts a corrective experience,” the doctor said.

Small doses of the dissociative drug help regenerate neurons in the brain by slowing down the part of the lateral spinal cord, the part of the brain that can focus on obsessive thoughts. The doses also increase neurotransmitters and enhance the release of something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Griffin said.

“I really found it to be as profound as the evidence suggests, which is for treatment-resistant depression,” she said. “Quite consistently, we see results that people can have lasting results for four weeks to six months after ketamine treatment and effectively change their baseline mood by 70-75 percent.”

Griffin’s background in transformative medicine led her to train in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic and launch the Humboldt County Center for New Growth in the heart of the country’s largest cannabis-growing region. country.

“What’s unique about our center is that we’re in a really rural area, and it’s the only ketamine center between Santa Rosa and Portland,” she explained.

Shelley Campbell, Outgrove, Calif., 34, a mother of four who just completed a series of six IV ketamine infusions, told the Post, “I’ve always had mental health issues.

“I was diagnosed with OCD in my twenties, attempted suicide as a teenager, and it’s just been a long process of medication and therapy and not really finding anything that helps me. .

“And then this last year has been incredibly difficult. I got to a point where (my only options were) to be admitted to an inpatient program or to try ketamine therapy.

Campbell explained how therapy helped her take her emotions away from her problems and allowed her to deal with them. Although the sessions were “really intense and really difficult,” Campbell said, she felt safe and her worries were allayed.

“I would say I was definitely skeptical; I grew up in a house full of drug addicts, so I was very careful about getting involved in anything that might look more like escape than treatment,” Campbell said.

“Immediately, like in my first session, there was just this feeling of peace.”

Randee Litten, the nurse manager of the Humboldt Center For New Growth, said she couldn’t believe Campbell’s transformation.

“I was so worried about her. She came in lower than anyone I’ve ever seen, and her transformation was just… when I think of her, I just get teary eyed because she comes back to life, has said Litten, 41.

Litten’s journey to his current role treating ketamine patients was born out of a similar sense of personal despair. The former nurse in charge of a hospital emergency room was at her wit’s end during the pandemic.

“I was just at the bottom of this for so long, and I woke up one day and realized that if I didn’t get away from the ER, I probably wouldn’t make it until my next birthday because I was so depressed,” the Eureka resident said.

She took five months off and embarked on a two-month “deep” supervised medical journey.

“It completely opened my eyes to my real purpose. I was working in the ER (wards) trying to put bandages on the floods,” she said.

After receiving a call from Griffin, Litten said, she quit “corporate America” ​​and took a 50% pay cut.

A patient under the influence of ketamine.
A patient under the influence of ketamine.

She said she had never been happier.

“I think we’re giving people the tools to heal their own trauma,” Litten said.

A typical four-hour $750 session, as described by Moore and Griffin, begins with an hour of talk therapy before the patient goes to bed and is given headphones and noise-canceling sunglasses in a “ceremonial sort of “.

After deep breathing exercises and “flying instructions” on how to trust your inner healer, Griffin or another practitioner would inject a dose of ketamine into a muscle or vein in the patient’s arm.

“You feel a kind of warm tingle on your body,” Moore explained. “You start to feel a space where you’re in a really dissociated space, (but) I still have my cognitive mind,” which allowed him to “look at my life.

“It’s a very comfortable, relaxing, safe and incredibly quiet space,” she said of the experience, which she added gave her insight into her issues of abandonment and to recognize their personal value.

Moore is such a champion of the treatment that she spoke about it with her colleagues at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, where she manages an eight-person IT team.

“I’m passionate, I love being able to say, ‘I want you guys to know that you guys…see me as this incredibly strong, emotionally intelligent, high-ability human being. Let me be honest about how I arrived here,” she said.

The treatment is not without drawbacks. Moore said she threw up after her first few sessions, even after taking an anti-nausea pill. But according to Litten, they are manageable.

“The brightest part of this drug is the few side effects,” the nurse said.

“It doesn’t affect your respiratory rate, it doesn’t affect your pulse, it’s not a dangerous drug to administer, which is why so many providers are starting to use it more and more.”

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