Ecstasy in the Battlefield

Der Spiegel
February 17, 2005,1518,342290,00.html

Ecstasy in the Battlefield

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[MAPS’ Note: This report erroneously implies that a new study is now underway that is supported by or in some way approved by the US military. Neither of these statements reflect the facts. Instead, what has happened is that the ongoing study of MDMA-assisted therapy in people with PTSD will now include people with combat-related PTSD, so long as the diagnosis has been present for no longer than five years. This is not a new study; it is the same study that enrolled the first participant in April, 2004. Second of all, the US Army has nothing to do with this study. They are not involved in any aspect of this study, from funding it to recruiting participants.]

Ecstasy is the drug of choice for the Pentagon. Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are to be given the drug as a therapy aid..

Where Do We Sign Up?

The United States government has found a new way of recruiting soldiers for the Iraq war: It’s offering them ecstasy. The trick is, the soldiers only get the free drugs after they have seen enough fighting to be experiencing flashbacks, recurring nightmares and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The usually tough-to-please US Food and Drug Administration has given the experimental treatments an initial go ahead and scientists in South Carolina have quickly gotten to work. The idea is to take advantage of the touchy-feely effect ecstasy (the “happiness drug”) has on people to get soldiers to open up about the trauma they have faced. In other news, the US government spends $20 billion a year on the drug war.

Chemically, ecstasy is known as MDMA and in the trials soldiers are given either the drug or a placebo and then undergo eight-hour therapy sessions during which music is played and they are encouraged to talk about their horrifying experiences. Although still in its early phase, scientists insist the results are quite positive. The team’s leader is Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a South Carolina psychiatrist and longtime campaigner for the use of ecstasy in science. Mithoefer has already given ecstasy to patients who were the victims of violent crimes, including rape, and insists on the drug’s positive effects in helping them to talk about and come to terms with what happened to them. There is, he says, even some evidence that ecstasy can reduce tremors in Parkinson’s patients. Possibly a whole new take on the 1972 David Peel song “The Pope Smokes Dope.” (2:35 p.m. CET

Learn more about this and other human MDMA studies.

The German newspaper Der Spiegel published a report on the recent expansion of the MDMA/PTSD study to include people with combat-related PTPSD that is even more muddled than the report from the Guardian, above. Not only does this report suggest that a new investigation is underway, but that the US military is involved in this study. As already noted, there is no new study specifically studying MDMA-assisted therapy in people with combat-related PTSD, and the military has not been involved in any step of this research so far.