Ecstasy May Cure PTSD

Originally appearing at Yes, it’s a real headline and actually the conclusion of the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. “There are already some indications that MDMA [ecstasy] works. A South Carolina psychiatrist, working with MAPS and the Medical University of South Carolina found that when patients with severe PTSD were given MDMA in addition to intensive psychotherapy, they improved significantly more than patients who were given the same therapy along with a placebo.” MDMA produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and distortions in time, perception, and tactile experiences. PTSD is an anxiety disorder. Many sufferers of PTSD experience sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, and others deal with with drugs and alcohol. So, hey, why not give Soldiers drugs right? Wrong. This is an utterly stupid idea. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ecstasy “can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur soon after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking MDMA.” Yes, you heard that right. The drug that MAPS is suggesting will help Soldiers deal with confusion, depression, and sleep problems causes confusion, depression, and sleep problems. Some ideas should kept in private. The military has a lot of great programs that really do work. The problem is that many troops aren’t giving them the opportunity to work. For example, here at Fort Hood, we have a therapy program called Strong Star. The South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience, or STRONG STAR, is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions possible for the detection, prevention, and treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in active-duty military personnel and recently discharged veterans. And it really helped me. When I started the Strong Star program, we had about ten Soldiers in there. The program is a very intense one that requires Soldiers to do a lot of internal soul searching and confronting the issues that led to the PTSD. After just a few weeks, only three of us remained for one reason or the other. Soldiers came to the meetings unprepared, without their workbooks. It became painfully obvious that some Soldiers weren’t willing to put in hard work to get better. I’ve been through three different therapy sessions and found the same to be true in most of them, with the exception of veterans. Few active duty troops are willing to put in the time required to get better. I also admit that some commands aren’t as supportive as they should be. Some of these Soldiers were put on details that conflicted with their therapy sessions. General Chiarelli has made PTSD treatment a major Army priority, but that priority isn’t get to all units or commanders. While I have a very supportive command and have been blessed, others are not so much and is distressing. Drugs are not the answer to the cure. Some medications are needed to SUPPLEMENT other types of therapy. Otherwise, we’ll just have a bunch of zoned out hippies looking for their next high to feel good again. It’s a fake solution. The military blog “A Soldier’s Perspective” discusses current frustration with the lack of effective treatments for soldiers with PTSD but misunderstands what MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is. According to the author, military-sponsored treatment programs do sometimes work, but claims that for the most part soldiers are unwilling to put in the hard work required to overcome their traumas. The author is right that simply giving soldiers drugs to help them feel better is unlikely to work, but doesn’t seem to understand that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is about using a drug to supplement therapy. By confusing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with drug-only treatment programs, the author dramatically underestimates the potential of MAPS’ experimental therapies to help his comrades.