The Agony and the Ecstasy

Originally appearing here. Phil Campion, who served in the corps’ D Squadron, agreed to take part in Drugs Live to help research into whether the Class A dance drug has an effect on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by troops. The dad-of-five — now a mercenary “pirate hunter” — will be seen alongside comedian Keith Allen and former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris taking an 83mg dose of pharmaceutical-grade MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy. They will then undergo a brain scan to see what effect it has. Phil — who has also been a bodyguard for chart-toppers Dizzee Rascal and Kasabian — said: “I agreed to take part in this trial for one simple reason — I’ve seen lads with PTSD and when they’ve had it real bad, it’s shocking. “A very good friend of mine went completely off the rails with PTSD. He told me Yanks had hacked into his brain and were controlling him. “To see a guy go downhill to that extent — a fellow elite operator — was a major shock to the system. “The experts seem to think MDMA may help people with PTSD, letting them open up so they can talk about stuff they’ve never been able to talk about. Experiments like this had never been done before and if you want to test for ex-soldiers’ reactions to the drug, who better to use than an ex-SAS bloke like me?” The trial’s findings will form part of a live studio debate on drugs fronted by Jon Snow. Nearly half a million people are believed to take ecstasy every year in the UK. Professor David Nutt — the UK’s former chief drugs adviser, sacked after criticising government policies — is leading the Channel 4 trial. He is delighted Phil took part and said: “Phil’s insights into how his training affected how he felt on the drug have already been very useful in thinking about how we take this forward. “The focus of our research with MDMA is how the drug works in the brain. We scanned people twice, once on a placebo and once on MDMA, then looked at the difference in their brain activity. This is cutting-edge research. “Having our trials filmed has been challenging but we hope it will be worth it. “This is the first time the public have been invited to witness scientific brain research as it unfolds and we really hope viewers come away better informed about the topic and inspired by science.” – Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, Channel 4, 10pm, next Wednesday and Thursday. The Sun writes about Phil Campion, a former Special Air Services member who volunteered to take part in Professor David Nutt’s MDMA research. As a veteran, Campion has seen other veterans suffering from PTSD, which is what spawned his decision to volunteer. Nutt’s research focuses on resting brain activity, though seeing how MDMA could help treat PTSD is also one of the study’s goals.