Breaking the Drug Taboo: Group of Traumatized Veterans Get Experimental Ecstasy Treatment
By Scott Thill, AlterNet. Posted February 11, 2008.
An experimental study that treats PTSD veterans with the drug MDMA could make life after war a lot more livable.
"We need to be positioning ourselves now to provide the assistance that our veterans need," said House Committee on Veterans' Affairs chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) during a hearing, called "Stopping Suicides: Examining the Mental Health Challenges Facing the Department of Veterans Affairs," held in December 2007. "Not only for those brave men and women who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also for our veterans from previous conflicts. We cannot afford to put this issue off."
Filner's choice of words is instructive, as are his sentiments: With upwards of 25 million veterans in the United States, not counting those overseas in the morally murky theater of Iraq and Afghanistan who may return home sometime after the 2008 presidential election, that's a lot of assistance and funding needed to head off what he called a "rate of veteran suicide [that] has reached epidemic proportions," to the point that it has doubled the suicide rate of civilians. Safeguards already put into place have failed, for a variety of reasons, and given the severity of the mental and physical problems carried by returning soldiers, some daring out-of-the-box thinking is not only desperately needed, but required.
Enter the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and its currently funded trials using 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine -- otherwise known as MDMA, or ecstasy -- to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although the U.S. Army had carried out lethal dose studies of MDMA back in the 1950s, work which was not classified until the close of the 1960s, it was only centered on animals and was mixed in with a variety of other compounds. At the closure of that research, MDMA languished in clinical obscurity until its rise as a club drug in the '80s and '90s brought it the kind of attention that dooms better drugs to Schedule I classifications -- that is, illegality -- and lesser drugs to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But MAPS founder and president Rick Doblin became aware of MDMA in 1982, and since then has been convinced of its therapeutic uses. Accordingly, his organization has coordinated and/or funded recent studies into MDMA treatment of PTSD and has its eyes set on a higher goal.
"We're looking to make MDMA into a prescription medication in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere," he explained by phone.
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This report came out in 2005
Ecstasy trials for combat stress
David Adam,science correspondent
Thursday February 17, 2005
The GuardianAmerican soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.............................