E Meets PTSD

Originally appearing here. In another sign that the lamentable taboo against “hallucinogenic” drugs is withering, new research shows the potential of Ecstasy for helping those with PTSD: “News that Drs Michael and Ann Mithoefers are beginning to test the drug in veterans is out, in the military press and on veterans’ blogs. “We’ve had more than 250 vets call us,” Dr. Mithoefer said. “There’s a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all.” The couple, working with other researchers, will treat no more than 24 veterans with the therapy, following Food and Drug Administration protocols for testing an experimental drug; MDMA is not approved for any medical uses.” The results are striking: “The Mithoefers administer the MDMA in two doses over one long therapy session, which comes after a series of weekly nondrug sessions to prepare. Three to five weeks later, they perform another drug-assisted session; and again, patients engage in 90-minute nondrug therapy before and after, once each week. Most have found that their score on a standard measure of symptoms — general anxiety, hyperarousal, depression, nightmares — drops by about 75 percent. That is more than twice the relief experienced by people who get psychotherapy without MDMA, the Mithoefers said … The drug does not produce a “high,” but it usually brings some tranquillity.” Let me simply say I am not surprised. This research echoes the promising advances in psilocybin-based therapy. There was nothing wrong with the psychedelic culture of the past; but equally there is nothing wrong in finding medical uses for recreational chemicals. I wonder, in fact, if the medical uses of MDMA and psilcoybin will become the foot in the door of the end of crude prohibition of hallucinogenics the way medical marijuana was for pot. The idea that they are a priori of no medical use – simply because a few people went overboard in the late 1960s – is simply anti-scientific. Andrew Sullivan writes for The Daily Beast about how scientific research into psychedelic drugs, such as studying MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD, is diminishing the stigma surrounding psychedelics.