A Patient's Guide to Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy: Understanding Routes of Administration

Noah Warren
August 3, 2023

Ketamine assisted psychotherapy has gained recognition as an innovative treatment for mental health conditions. As a patient interested in this therapy, it's essential to understand the different routes of administration available and their distinct characteristics.

In this guide, we will explore the various routes of ketamine administration, including intravenous (IV), intranasal, intramuscular, sublingual, and oral, discussing their meaning, bioavailability, onset and duration, as well as the pros and cons of each.

ketamine assisted psychotherapy
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Intravenous (IV) Administration

IV administration involves the injection of ketamine directly into a vein. This route ensures rapid absorption into the bloodstream, resulting in a quick onset of effects. The bioavailability of IV ketamine is almost 100%, making it highly effective. The onset of IV ketamine is typically within minutes, while the duration of the effects can last for about 45 to 60 minutes.


  • Rapid onset of effects
  • Precise dosage control by healthcare professionals


  • Invasive procedure that requires medical supervision
  • Potential side effects such as blood pressure elevation and dissociative experiences

Intranasal Administration

Intranasal administration involves the absorption of ketamine through the nasal mucosa via a spray or a nasal atomizer. This method offers a non-invasive option that is relatively easy to self-administer under medical supervision. The bioavailability of intranasal ketamine is approximately 30-50%, with a slower onset compared to IV administration.


  • Self-administered with medical supervision
  • Convenient and non-invasive


  • Slower onset compared to IV administration
  • Lower bioavailability, potentially requiring higher doses

Intramuscular (IM) Administration

IM administration involves injecting ketamine into a muscle, typically the thigh or buttock. This route allows for slower absorption into the bloodstream compared to IV administration. The bioavailability of IM ketamine is around 93%, making it highly effective. The onset of IM ketamine is usually within minutes, with effects lasting approximately 45 to 60 minutes.


  • Higher bioavailability compared to intranasal administration
  • Suitable for patients who prefer injections over IV


  • Requires injection, which may be uncomfortable for some patients
  • Requires medical supervision for administration

Sublingual Administration

Sublingual administration involves placing ketamine under the tongue, where it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the sublingual mucosa. The bioavailability of sublingual ketamine is around 30-50%. The onset of effects can vary but is generally faster than oral administration.


  • Non-invasive and can be self-administered
  • Faster onset compared to oral administration


  • Lower bioavailability compared to other routes
  • Potential for inconsistent absorption

Oral Administration

Oral administration involves swallowing ketamine in pill or liquid form. The bioavailability of oral ketamine is approximately 16-24%, making it the least efficient route of administration. The onset of effects is typically slower compared to other routes, ranging from 20 to 60 minutes.


  • Non-invasive and convenient
  • Potentially suitable for patients who are uncomfortable with injections or nasal sprays


  • Lower bioavailability, requiring higher doses
  • Slower onset compared to other routes


When considering ketamine assisted psychotherapy, understanding the different routes of administration is crucial. Each route has its own characteristics, including bioavailability, onset, and duration. IV administration offers rapid and precise control, while intranasal, intramuscular, sublingual, and oral administration provide alternatives with varying degrees of convenience and effectiveness. Working closely with a healthcare professional, patients can choose the most suitable route that aligns with their preferences and treatment goals.

Remember, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who can determine the most appropriate route of administration based on individual needs and ensure safe and effective treatment. Before embarking on any treatment journey, trust the expertise at Roots Mental Wellness. Reach out to our dedicated healthcare professionals for an optimal well-being.

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Noah Warren
Director of Business Development