Your Thoughts: Treating PTSD with Ecstasy

Originally appearing here. CNN recently published a three-day series on the experimental use of the drug Ecstasy as part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Readers had a lot to say in response to scientists who are studying the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on patients with PTSD. Many readers said they were familiar with past research that’s been done on these drugs and questioned why they are still illegal. Thom Burke “I think the judicious use of many psychedelics can be very helpful in a lot of these cases. Sad how their use got derailed in the ’60s because of culture wars.”

Pagan Champ “100% agree Thom. The real problem is that politics and policy stand in the way of advancing science and medicine for chemicals that we’ve had at our disposal for nearly 100 years now.”

Bret Sammons “Wow. Bills Hicks’ quote from ‘Sane Man’ (1989) is coming true. ‘Wouldn’t you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition? Perhaps? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Just for once?’ ” Snarky Snark “MDMA was synthesized 100 years ago, and it is cheap and easy to make. There’s no patent protection and therefore not much upside for big (pharmaceutical companies). Big pharma will lobby to keep MDMA, marijuana, and psilocybin illegal. They will be successful because of deep pockets.”

Several commenters questioned the short- and long-term safety of using these drugs to treat PTSD. SurgeoninTraining “Unfortunately, one can design a study to show about anything you want it to. MDMA is a very, very harmful drug that induces major depression and has ruined countless lives.”

Ed167 “I’m sure some people with PTSD would consider that a fair trade. It may not even work well, but if it works better than what there is now, that is an improvement.”

Karla Lindberg Buckland’s comment got a lot of attention from other readers. She said, “It all comes down to the question ‘Does the benefit outweigh the risk?’ as with every other pharmaceutical on the market. Sometimes quality of life is more important than quantity.”

Marion Kee “Living with this stuff can be hellish. You never know what’s going to happen and trigger your brain into putting you right back into the worst moments of your life. …” DCConwell “I have suffered from PTSD since my time in Vietnam and have been an outpatient at the VA ever since. I take daily doses of Sertraline, Prazosin and Mirtazapine. The sound of helicopters still send me running for cover. If this drug works for her, I’m hopeful it will help others. I don’t care if it’s legal or not, that’s just how important I want to live my last years in peace with myself.”

Pavitrasarala “Thank you for serving our country. I’m so sorry for your struggles, and I hear you. I have PTSD as well from decades of abuse. … The thought that MDMA and a couple months’ worth of sessions could get so many of us back on track sounds like a dream come true.”

By the end of the series, readers had not reached a consensus, and neither have scientists. Additional studies using MDMA against PTSD either have been completed, are planned or are under way in Colorado, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Australia and Great Britain. Doodle Bug “So instead of learning to cope, you learn to buffer with drugs – that do what to you again? And what happens when they are off these drugs, or run out or cannot afford. I’m sorry, but this is like putting a kid on drugs because everyone deems them ‘hyper.’ ”

Dr. Joe “Some people may never be able to cope. You can call them weak, or you can help them function in daily life. Who gets to decide?”

Gerard Gustav “People should understand that using this kind of treatment is a ‘one and done’ kind of deal. The trade-off though being that using the MDMA to properly treat the PTSD is oftentimes a very unpleasant experience – magnifying the pain and suffering of the original trauma tenfold during the therapy. But the trade-off of not having to suffer daily and long term is probably worth a few hours in hell.” Salini “Interesting stuff, but definitely not worth it. Too risky. Too much potential for long-term damage. People do not see just how toxic these substances are and what they do to your liver, kidneys, brain and immune system. Once again, Americans always want the quick fix. Real healing isn’t quick; it takes time, effort, patience, faith and commitment.”

Martin Monita III “Well, of course, we want the quick fix. Would you rather spend years or maybe decades trying to overcome a traumatic incident, hoping patience and faith clear your mind? Or would you rather take a ‘drug’ and have some therapy sessions to fix it within months? I’ll take the shorter route.”

After receiving over a thousand comments in response to their three-part series, CNN continues the discussion surrounding research into treating PTSD with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy by showcasing a selection of readers’ thoughts, reactions, comments, and opinions. Read Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3 of the CNN article accompanying this video. Watch the video.