Ecstasy As Treatment for PTSD from Sexual Trauma and War? New Research Shows Very Promising Results
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The USDVA did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment, but one can see why. The antidepressants suggested in its conventional PTSD treatment have been sundered by everything from conflicts of interest and glaring inefficacy to mounting lawsuits and medication abuse. And while its behavioral therapy might yield better results, it has done little to stem the tide of PTSD, which terrorizes close to 10 percent of the civilian population and up to 30 percent of veterans, depending on your favored statistician. Plus, there's always the military's institutional fear over what might happen if you start giving soldiers' cannabis or ecstasy. (As the mighty musical group Oysterhead noted in the tune "Army's On Ecstasy," "They stepped up urine testing to make it go away/Because it's hard to kill the enemy on ol' MDMA.")
"The American government's view of its soldiers is fundamentally flawed," Doblin argued to AlterNet. "The health of the veterans who have served should be of paramount importance over financial concerns. However, the government is not doing all it can to research and provide more effective treatments for PTSD, both for financial concerns and also to support the drug war educational campaigns that falsely claim that marijuana and MDMA are all bad with no beneficial uses."
In a way, MAPS' continuing research is a proof of that thesis for either side of the military divide. Since 1992, it has worked with Republican and Democratic administrations to mainstream alternative drug therapies that don't enrich the pockets of Pfizer and other pharmaceutical titans. And it has done so without painting the Pentagon paisley or diluting military pride at home and abroad.
"Our psychedelic research started under the first President Bush and has continued through President Clinton, the second President Bush, and now President Obama," Doblin added. "We've been unaffected by changes in presidents ever since."
For that dogged loyalty to mental health and liberal drug policy, MAPS has even scored support from the Pentagon. And although it is so far seriously gun-shy, even Veterans Affairs seems to be warming to the winds of change, and the unavoidable science on the matter. That should only accelerate as the conventional treatments for PTSD start to lose their luster, and the kind of economic and sociopolitical crunches Gates warned of become too unsustainable to continue.
"I was contacted by the military's senior psychiatrist from the Department of Defense, who worked out of the Pentagon, and about two months ago, several senior psychiatrists met for a discussion about MDMA research with the director of the National Center for PTSD, which is part of the VA," said Doblin. "We were told the research was still 'too politically complex' for the VA to get involved in any formal way, but that the research itself was important and somebody should be doing it. We've been trying for 15 years to motivate the VA to explore MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in veterans, and this was the first time we were told the research is important and somebody, but not the VA at this time, should be doing it. Such is the progress in our field!"
Currently, MAPS' MDMA/PTSD study is focusing entirely on veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, with roughly equal numbers of male and female subjects. And while the VA isn't referring subjects or supporting the study, Doblin said the study has more subjects than MAPS can enroll. There are high hopes that once the study is concluded, the Department of Defense and the VA will have all the data they need to get formally involved.