Is Spravato Addictive?

In the search for more effective depression treatments, the exploration of novel approaches has brought ketamine and its derivative Spravato into the spotlight. Spravato is an FDA-approved prescription nasal spray designed specifically to help individuals grappling with severe major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression (TRD), but because of its relation to ketamine, a Schedule III controlled substance, many patients have questions about its drug interactions, side effect profile, and abuse potential. In this article we answer the question, “is spravato addictive?”

What is Spravato?

Spravato, the brand name for esketamine, has emerged as a groundbreaking treatment option in the mental health landscape. It’s a revolutionary medication that was developed specifically to treat acute depressive symptoms. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019, Spravato has quickly become an important method of treating depression when standard antidepressant medications aren’t working.

Spravato is a nasal spray medication that is typically administered under the supervision of a healthcare provider in a certified healthcare facility. Typically, patients treated with Spravato are monitored for a certain period to observe any potential adverse effects such as increased blood pressure or worsening depression.

The Ketamine Connection

The active ingredient in Spravato is esketamine. Esketamine is a molecular cousin to ketamine, which has been used in healthcare settings for decades. Ketamine was initially developed as an anesthetic in the 1960s and has been an important pharmaceutical compound ever since. Because it does not cause respiratory depression, ketamine can be used to safely sedate children, animals, and others in situations in which it would be dangerous to slow down the central nervous system.

Unfortunately, ketamine eventually made its way into the recreational drug scene due to its dissociative and hallucinogenic effects. Sometimes referred to as “Special K” or “Ket,” ketamine gained popularity as a club drug in the rave and party culture.

Despite its reputation, studies have shown that pure ketamine is not physically addictive in the traditional sense, and users are not typically prone to developing a physiological dependence on the substance. This departure from the addictive nature of traditional drugs like opioids and stimulants has been a point of interest for researchers.

For decades, patients treated with ketamine have often reported a temporary uplift in mood following the administration of ketamine for various procedures and operations. But, only since around the year 2000 has ketamine been under the spotlight as a potential treatment for depression. The following decades saw a growing body of research examining ketamine’s effects on depression, culminating in its emergence as a novel and promising option for individuals who had previously found little relief in traditional antidepressant therapies.

How Does Spravato Work?

Both the esketamine found in Spravato and regular ketamine work the same way, and they both work very differently than traditional antidepressants. A few minutes after Spravato is administered, it starts to temporarily block a receptor in the brain called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). By blocking this receptor, Spravato increases the production of an important neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate is essential for the growth and development of neurons in the brain, and it is believed to be involved in the formation of new neural connections. By increasing the production of glutamate, Spravato is believed to help improve the symptoms of depression and potentially other serious mental illnesses.

Spravato and the Risk of Substance Abuse

One of the most important steps in the development of new drugs and pharmaceuticals is a rigorous risk evaluation of the potential for physical and psychological dependence. This is particularly true for substances like ketamine and esketamine which are already known to the world of drug abuse.

Is Spravato Physiologically Addictive?

Despite its reputation as a party drug and its ability to get a person “high”, ketamine and its derivatives are not physiologically addictive. This means that Spravato does not lead to the development of physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with addictive substances. Physiological addiction refers to the body’s adaptation to a substance, wherein repeated use leads to changes in brain chemistry and function that necessitate continued use to avoid withdrawal symptoms. While Spravato may produce temporary alterations in perception and mood, it will typically not create the same intense physical cravings as substances like opioids, alcohol, or stimulants.

Is Spravato Psychologically Addictive?

It is important to note that while ketamine and Spravato might not be physiologically addictive, their psychological effects can still be significant. Psychological addiction, which is characterized by cravings, compulsive use, and a strong desire to continue using a substance, can still occur. This is why Spravato is administered in a controlled healthcare setting by healthcare professionals under protocols designed to mitigate the potential for misuse and the development of psychological addiction.


Amidst the evergrowing mental health crisis, the quest for improved mental health outcomes has become more urgent. Spravato has become a beacon of hope for individuals struggling with depressive symptoms and suicidality.

While Spravato is derived from ketamine, a substance sometimes associated with rave culture and substance abuse, it is becoming more and more known for its revolutionary ability to treat depression, mitigate suicidal thoughts, and positively impact mental health. The controlled setting in under which Spravato is typically administered, along with the absence of symptoms of physiological addiction commonly seen with substances like opioids or alcohol, underscores its potential as a powerful and safe tool for those battling treatment-resistant depression.

If you or a loved one are seeking new and effective solutions for depression, consider exploring Spravato treatment at Neuro Wellness Spa. Visit our treatment page to learn more and take the first step towards a brighter future.

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