Ecstasy Pushed as PTSD Treatment
By Noah Shachtman March 04, 2009 | 10:14:27 AmCategories: Medic!
If you’re a veteran, having trouble getting over your battlefield time, a South Carolina psychiatrist would like to get you really, really high.
Michael Mithoefer, a former emergency room physician turned psychiatrist, is testing the party drug ecstasy as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I heard about it and I decided to give it a try,” a former Army Ranger tells Military.com. “It’s an extremely positive thing. I feel so lucky that I got to take part in the project… It’s basically like years of therapy in two or three hours. You can’t understand it until you’ve experienced it.”
Mithoefer has been conducting the FDA-approved tests with ecstasy, known clinically as MDMA, since 2004. “People are able to connect more deeply on an emotional level with the fact they are safe now,” he explained to the Guardian, in the trials’ early days.
In addition to helping out Mithoefer, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies — “supporting psychedelic & medical marijuana research since 1986” — says it is also sponsoring a study in Israel into the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with treatment-resistant PTSD.” The tests are under the direction of the “former Chief Psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces.” A similar trial is underway in Switzerland, according to the group.
Here in the U.S., the military has grown increasingly interested in alternative therapies for PTSD. Walter Reed hospital is using yoga to combat trauma. Submariners and Camp Lejeune marines are using “Warrior Mind Training” to improve mental focus. And the Army is spending $4 million to study various alternative-therapies, including a research project that examines “how holding and petting an animal can treat PTSD.”
For now, though, neither veterans nor active-duty troops will be able to pet those puppies while on ecstasy. The Veterans Administration and the Defense Department have so far been resistant to Mithoefer’s pleas.