Why We Started a Ketamine Clinic

May 23, 2024 by Steve Suntala

When Steve Suntala set out to build New Pathways as a holistic, psychiatric ketamine therapy clinic, he did so with a patient’s perspective. He’s familiar with what patients might need from psychiatric treatments, and he set out to provide that in Ohio.

“I’ve been a psych patient since I was nine years old, on and off medications and therapy,” he says. “For me, when I tried ketamine treatments, it was as revelatory to me as it is to a lot of our patients. It totally transformed my outlook on what mental health care should look like, and it provided a level of relief that I had never experienced before.”

He’s not alone.

The mental health epidemic is widespread, with nearly 58 million people in the United States alone struggling with a mental illness. While research has led to substantial developments in psychotherapy and pharmaceutical care, a large population of patients experience treatment-resistant conditions that show little to no improvement with traditional routes.

Steve knows this and hopes to offer an alternative or adjunct approach to these treatment standards. He believes ketamine can bridge the gap between mental health ailments and long-term relief.

Addressing Mental Health Needs in Cleveland

Approaching mental health support can be daunting, especially in large cities like Cleveland with an abundance of psychiatric or therapeutic clinics. Some patients do not know where to start, while others feel lost and disheartened after cycling through different providers without success. Either way, many are deterred from seeking care due to seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Steve understands the difficulty that often comes with finding effective mental health care. As a patient himself, he has experienced the overwhelming task of locating a specialist, dealing with insurance, and coping with the disappointment that comes with failed treatment attempts. 

After spending years navigating mental health challenges of his own, Steve took the leap and decided to make a difference in the lives of others.

“It’s daunting to get mental health treatment, and we’re understanding of that,” he says. “We will always go the extra step to help patients find the right therapy alongside our treatments.”

With his knowledge of the local mental health landscape, he sought to establish a clinic with a patient-forward base, one that fosters a healthy client-provider relationship. He wanted to ground New Pathways in a psychiatric foundation, one that could differentiate itself from more clinical, sterile approaches to mental health. By centering the patient, he figured, New Pathways could build real trust in the community.  This trust allows true improvements to begin. 

When the first New Pathways location opened in 2021, just outside Cleveland, he made sure the team he built kept that trust top of their minds. 

But Why Ketamine?

Ketamine therapy is a revolutionary alternative to more well-established mental health treatments. While originally developed and used as an anesthetic, ketamine shows particular promise in reducing symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. In fact, this method boasts a nearly 80% remission rate in some studies. 

Unfortunately, because the use of ketamine in psychiatric settings is somewhat novel, accredited clinics are sparse and difficult to find. After his own life-changing response to ketamine treatment, Steve felt driven to provide Cleveland with comprehensive and holistic care. 

In medical settings, ketamine is typically administered in emergency rooms or before surgical procedures. Because of this, patients receiving ketamine like this do not have the opportunity to experience the mental health benefits of the drug. 

Unlike other treatment methods, ketamine triggers glutamate production that ultimately results in the development of new neural pathways to facilitate long-lasting symptom improvements. This amazing reaction can be influential for individuals who do not respond to medication or therapy.

In a controlled environment, like New Pathways; locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, patients have ample time to truly appreciate the tranquility and relaxation associated with the psychiatric application of ketamine. Nurses and attending staff are patient and kind, tending carefully to every person as they attend sessions. 

“We want to believe in providing more comprehensive holistic psychiatric care to really support the treatments. We’re not just here to give people ketamine,” Steve says.

Interested in a free consultation on ketamine treatments? If you’d like to pursue this journey, we have locations in ClevelandColumbus, and Cincinnati.

Facing the Stigma

If only it were so simple, however. Ketamine is a tricky topic, even in relatively enlightened times. Many people hold false beliefs about ketamine due to the spread of misinformation and recreational use of the drug. They may believe ketamine is dangerous or addictive. In other cases, some may think ketamine is little more than a party drug.

When used in the proper context, however, ketamine poses no harm.

New Pathways ensures patients receive top-quality care and monitoring when receiving ketamine infusions. Not only do they hold themselves to the highest standards, but they are also regulated by the DEA, the Ohio Board of Nursing, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.

Steve hopes to combat any stigma of ketamine therapy with cold, hard results. Boasting a 75-85% patient success rate at New Pathways, the argument for access to this treatment is strong. Moreover, Steve has heard amazing stories from his clients, with one local veteran reporting complete remission from distressing war trauma and constant headaches. Stories like that help to continually build trust in the process and the clinic.

Esketamine in nasal spray form, known as Spravato, is currently only FDA-approved for depression and prohibitively expensive without insurance. Alternatively, IV ketamine infusions are more effective according to ongoing research. It can also be prescribed for conditions other than depression, including PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders. These are a few of the many reasons New Pathways recommends this treatment method. 

With continued use, patients can witness the transformative qualities of ketamine–and hopefully provide further evidence supporting this new method.

Still, Ketamine Is Not a ‘Miracle’ Drug

Yes, ketamine can greatly improve how people cope with and address mental health struggles. However, maintaining these results requires work on the part of the patient. Continuing to live without addressing the issues underlying poor mental health inhibits true growth and healing.

“Probably the biggest misconception, to be honest, is that it’s a cure or it’s a magic bullet,” Steve says. “Depression, anxiety: It’s always going to be a bit of a lifelong struggle.”

Steve stresses the importance of healthy life changes alongside ketamine therapy. Sleep, diet, and physical activity are equally as important as any treatment method.  Positive relationships are also paramount, as support is invaluable when navigating adversities. 

In the end, ketamine can be the instigator of success, but self-care and awareness are what drive long-term results.

What If Ketamine Is Not the Answer?

Everyone responds differently to treatment, no matter the method. As with medication and therapy, ketamine will elicit various results across the board. In some cases, patients will not experience the same changes as others.

When this happens, the team at New Pathways ensures patients still feel supported by providing resources and information about additional options. They can offer referrals to affiliated therapists or psychiatrists who can further assist the patient through their healing journey.

New Pathways sees patients as people–not numbers. Their work doesn’t stop simply because a person does not benefit from care at their facility. Instead, their goal is to help everyone find success, whether through their clinic or elsewhere.

Looking Toward the Future

Currently, New Pathways has three locations across Ohio. Still, Steve sees incredible potential for growth in the near future. He wants to see ketamine become a staple in the mental health ecosystem, one that patients feel comfortable pursuing without fear of stigma or limited access. 

There is also talk of potentially expanding into other innovative psychiatric treatments that work in tandem with ketamine therapy, like MDMA. Combining these methods in a controlled environment leaves room for complete transformation, allowing individuals to access their innermost thoughts to rewrite their life narratives. 

In the interim, the New Pathways team continues to practice care with exceptional standards and advocate for quality mental health care in Cleveland. By spreading psychiatric education, success stories, and scientific research, perhaps we will witness Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati become national hubs for quality, patient-first, and comprehensive mental health treatment.

Interested in a free consultation on ketamine treatments? If you’d like to pursue this journey, we have locations in ClevelandColumbus, and Cincinnati.

At New Pathways Clinic our heartfelt mission is to establish a holistic mental wellness campus that touches the lives of individuals in the greater Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati regions. We are dedicated to combining state-of-the-art mental health treatments, like Ketamine therapy infusions and Spravato nasal spray, with the expertise of compassionate mental health professionals to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, migraines, and bipolar disorder.

Our unwavering commitment drives us to continuously evolve and adapt as the scientific landscape of ketamine research expands and diversifies, leading to innovative mental health treatments. We are determined to pave the way for a healthier future for Cleveland, central Ohio, and southern Ohio.

New Pathways Clinic also offers Semaglutide & Tirzepatide weight-loss shots, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and  ketamine/Spravato support groups for patients.

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