Candace Moore, a 37-year-old California resident, “injected drugs” into the neck for five years during her mental illness.
She eventually kicked the habit, only to turn to an array of prescription drugs and treatments to try and help her overcome post-traumatic stress and major depressive mood disorder during a year-long mental health struggle.
Moore recently told the Post: “Nothing really seemed to improve dramatically,” explaining that she could never “get a good diagnosis or treatment.
“Modern medicine will only spend 15 minutes with you and say, ‘Oh, you’re bipolar.”’
The breakthrough that changed her life, she said, came from an unexpected source: a therapy combined with ketamine, a drug known on the street as a horse tranquilizer, known as “Special K” — and delivered by a doctor , the therapy will be offered at a boutique hotel located at At the foot of the famous Redwood Mountains in Northern California.
The synthetic molecule and narcotic, once best known, was widely used to treat desperate mental health patients suffering from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, chronic grief and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other problems.
It can be legally prescribed in all 50 states, and its growing popularity for medicinal properties appears to be reflected in a luxurious new immersive therapy retreat overseen by Dr. Carrie Griffin, a 39-year-old osteopath.
For $2,995, wealthy patients will be able to embark on a three-day “intermuscular ketamine journey” beginning in June at the historic Scotia Lodge at the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants, under Griffin’s care.
Experiences include guided music art and talk therapy sessions, as well as tub soak treatments, facials and cannabis massages.
The psychedelic healing tour, designed for six to 18 clients at a time, is the first of its kind in the United States, compared with similar tours offered in destinations such as Costa Rica and Panama, organizers said.
The retreat was led by Griffin, whom an emotional Moore gushed to The Post as “an amazing soul that I feel actually gave me a chance to live.”
Griffin said her site’s experience will be tailored to the setting, the stately and rustic newly opened hotel.
“When you take a substance like ketamine or any hallucinogen and go into an extraordinary space, if you’re in a highly stimulating environment, all your stimuli interact with your newly altered consciousness, and it can Create some really scary experiences,” she said.
Griffin explained how this harrowing experience differs from one experienced under the supervision of a licensed therapist, nurse practitioner or doctor.
“For those who lack a strong sense of inner security and carry a heavy burden of trauma, there is already a level of safety and security out there — and that starts a correcting experience in itself,” the doctor said.
Small doses of the dissociating drug help regenerate neurons in the brain by slowing down the part of the lateral medulla, the part of the brain that can focus on obsessive thoughts. These doses also increase neurotransmitters and enhance the release of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Griffin said.
“I really found it to be as profound as the evidence suggests, and it’s for treatment-resistant depression,” she said. “Quite consistently, we obtained results showing that people experienced lasting effects between four weeks and six months after ketamine treatment, effectively changing their baseline mood by 70% to 75%.”
Griffin’s background in transformative medicine has led her to train in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic and launch the Humboldt County New Growth Center in the crunchy heart of the country’s largest cannabis-producing region.
“What’s unique about our center is that we’re located in a truly rural area, which is the only ketamine center between Santa Rosa and Portland,” she explains.
Shelley Campbell, 34, a mother of four in Outgrove, Calif., who had just completed a series of six ketamine IVs, told the Post, “I’ve been Have a mental health problem.
“I was diagnosed with OCD in my 20s, attempted suicide in my teens, and it was just a long course of medication and therapy and didn’t really find any help.
“Then the past year was very difficult. I got to a point where [my only options were to] Receive hospital treatment or try ketamine therapy. “
Campbell explained how the therapy helped her separate her emotions from her problems and allowed her to navigate them. Campbell said that although the classes were “very intense and very difficult,” she felt safe and her concerns were eased.
“I would say I was definitely skeptical; I grew up in a house full of addicts, so I was very wary of engaging in anything that might be more of an escape than a treatment,” Campbell said.
“Immediately, like in my first session, there was just this feeling of peace.”
Randee Litten, the head nurse at the New Growth Center in Humboldt, said she couldn’t believe Campbell’s transformation.
“I was so worried about her. She was lower than anyone I’ve ever seen, and her transformation was just… when I think about her, tears come to my eyes because she’s alive again,” said Litten, 41.
Litten’s journey into her current role treating ketamine patients stems from a similar sense of personal hopelessness. A former charge nurse in a hospital emergency room has hit a dead end during the pandemic.
“I’ve been stuck in this for so long that I woke up one day and realized that if I didn’t get out of the emergency room, then I probably wouldn’t make it to my next birthday because I was so depressed,” the Eureka resident said.
She took a five-month leave of absence to embark on a two-month “in-depth” tour of supervising medical ketamine.
“It opened my eyes to my true purpose. I’ve been struggling with emergencies [rooms] Trying to put a Band-Aid on the flood,” she said.
Litten said she left “Corporate America” after Griffin’s call, taking a 50 percent pay cut.
She said she had never been happier.
“I feel like we’re giving people the tools to heal themselves,” Litten said.
A typical four-hour, $750 session, described by Moore and Griffin, begins with an hour of talk therapy before patients lie down and is given noise-cancelling headphones and sunglasses during “a sort of ritual.”
After deep breathing exercises and “flying instructions” on how to trust your inner therapist, Griffin or another practitioner injects a dose of ketamine into a muscle in the patient’s arm or into a vein.
“You feel a warm tingle in the body,” Moore explains. “You start to feel a space where you’re in a really separate space, [but] I still have my cognitive mind,” which allows her to “look at my life.
“It was a very comfortable, relaxing, safe, amazingly peaceful space,” she said of the experience, adding that it opened her eyes to her issues of being left behind and to recognizing her own self worth.
Moore, a proponent of the treatment, discussed it with her colleagues at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, where she manages eight employees in the IT department.
“I’m so passionate and love being able to say, ‘I want you guys to know that you…see me as a really strong, emotionally intelligent, capable person. Let me be honest about how I got here,'” she says.
This treatment is not without its drawbacks. Even with the anti-nausea medication, she threw up after the first few sessions, Moore said. But according to Litten, they’re manageable.
The nurse said: “The biggest advantage of this drug is that it has few side effects.”
“It doesn’t affect your breathing rate, it doesn’t affect your pulse rate, it’s not a dangerous drug, which is why more and more providers are starting to use it more and more.”