How MDMA is being used to treat PTSD | The Economist

How MDMA is being used to treat PTSD | The Economist

I loaded a Beretta nine millimeter. I put it to my temple and
I pulled the trigger and the greatest peace that I
felt was when that hammer fell because I knew it was gonna be over. It was only a microsecond
but when you spend day in and day out suffering, a microsecond
of peace is an eternity. Since I’m sitting here you obviously know that the gun didn’t go off. That happened twice. Different ammunition. I tried to overdose once and twice I tried to slit my wrists. In America, around 22 military veterans kill
themselves every day. John served in Iraq during
the second Gulf War. His experiences left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The mental suffering has been so great that he was suicidal for eight years. One of the things we never
realized was that a lot of us would be asked to
give our life for our country, not in Iraq, not
in Afghanistan but far, far from the battlefield
at home, alone in the dark. Combat takes an emotional toll. Not only the things you see,
not only the things you do. But the base I was on got mortared thousands of times in a year. There’s guys on my base
that never went outside the wire, that are suffering
from extreme PTSD just from the constant fear of raining bombs. An estimated eight million Americans suffer with
PTSD and war veterans are only a fraction of this number. It’s a public health disaster costing billions of dollars to treat. There are treatments
available but the drugs prescribed are only
successful in 20% of cases. For those who don’t
respond to the available treatment, there may be
an alternative, MDMA, the active ingredient in
the party drug ecstasy is being touted as a
miracle cure for PTSD. The FDA has labeled MDMA
a breakthrough treatment and tests of the drug show
that it’s highly effective. In a recent study, over 60%
of patients no longer met the clinical criteria for
PTSD after the MDMA treatment. For John, conventional
treatments hadn’t worked. He saw the trial as his last hope. I’d never taken any psychedelics,
I’d never taken MDMA. I kind of thought it was
gonna be like The Matrix where instantly things
were gonna get magical. Is it like gradual rise and gradual fall? Hopefully, it’s waves where
you start to notice something. Sometimes people report a lot of thoughts. And then it kicked in
after about 30, 40 minutes. No anxiety. Geometric patterns. And I remember thinking
to myself, I completely get why people take this now. For John, the treatment was a revelation. It was probably the greatest
therapeutic experience I have ever had in my entire life. What are you experiencing? It disconnects the
amygdala, that fear response in the brain, that fight
or flight and you can talk about the trauma without
having a panic attack. Thinking a lot about. In Iraq? He lost his leg. Part of him getting hurt was my fault. The MDMA puts the brain in a
place where the therapy can work and people always ask
describe it, describe it. The best description I
have come up with is, it’s like doing therapy while
being hugged by everyone who loves you in a bathtub full
of puppies licking your face. MDMA was used in psychotherapy in the 1970s but became
popular as a party drug in the 1980s and was made illegal. It wasn’t until the early
2000s that the drug began scientific testing in
America to treat PTSD. Testing is now at the
final stage of FDA approval where around 300 subjects
will participate. If this is successful, then the drug could become a medicine. Rick Doblin has been at the forefront of this research since the 1980s. And one of the veterans that was in our study was John Lubecky. He served 12 years. We give MDMA only three
times, one month apart, with 12 90 minute non-drug
psychotherapy sessions and each of the sessions last eight hours. The current treatments for
PTSD flattened out people’s emotions and they are requiring
people to take these drugs every day for months or years
or a lifetime basically. An estimated 20% of former military personnel suffer with
PTSD in America alone. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs spends about $400 million
annually on treating PTSD and other mental health conditions. When you take MDMA, it floods the brain with hormones and
neurotransmitters that evoke feelings of trust and wellbeing. Researchers say this allows patients to reexamine traumatic memories. Of all the bad shit in Iraq, the worst thing was coming home. Like any drug, MDMA has side effects and there’s a
moderate risk of addiction but it is less harmful
than alcohol or tobacco. A small nonprofit is funding
the trial as MDMA is not patentable so big pharmaceutical
companies have steered clear of the treatment as
it will not make them money. For sufferers of PTSD, this new treatment could be a lifesaver. If hadn’t have gone through this, I’d be in Arlington cemetery. I have a stepson and if it
weren’t for this treatment, he probably would have been
handed the flag off my casket and somebody would have
had to explain to him why. Especially knowing that
treatments are available. They made it so that my stepson
will get the flag off my casket when he’s old and gray
and I’m old and gray and after I’ve watched him fall in love
and graduate high school, college, get married, bounce
a grandchild on my knee. Those are the things that
this treatment provides for veterans and everyone rather
than a life cut short.


42 thoughts on “How MDMA is being used to treat PTSD | The Economist”

  • If this therapy can say one war veterans life, its worth pursuing!! I take DeX amphetamine for chronic depression and anxiety! It has saved my life!!!! My doctor has to say I have ADHD, just to get my Dex? Why aren't they using these drugs for people like me and soldiers? I don't understand why!

  • Me I no a different kinda of hell bit hell physical and mental no it well like I now without free press it's over all need is free press to stop much of this shit and we fucked without . Why I give a shit is because I always loved my country and don't want them fucks to shit all over it burn it to ground and then they fucked . No country no shit but from geometry you say I been looking at wall for year know been doing a lot of knowing not thinking I know or first sign of need more thinking don't know shit . I were telemarketing er to and almost shit when disabbled vet called my information gather # was crazy . Said they these fucks make you do this shit to burns my ass ahhaahgvyhhhj

  • Now that most states are legalizing weed you are dipping into mdma if most of you guys are aware thats the shit they put in mollys that suppose to make them a more pure form of the drug the shit they try to give you

  • Or you could use something natural like cannabis. My mom suffers from PTSD, and marijuana changed her life. But yea, let’s give people MDMA.

  • Douglas Gilmore says:

    Mdma and DMT saved my life not from military PTSD but I'm a ginger I grew up with no real friends being harassed beaten and molested as a child my emotions turned me into a drug addict to dull the pain I'm now clean and off methadone and living one day at a time my only close friends now that I'm an adult have mostly all died and at 32 I was sick of it I tried mdma it helped with loving myself because I couldn't even stand to be alone with myself although the real healing started with the DMT it got me to have the mental fortitude to sty strong and no everything's ok I just applied for the kentucky ayauasca show 2 weeks ago hoping I get to go

  • These big pharma corps want to maximise profits so they'll keep selling useless medicine to grow profits and people never get cured

  • I have PTSD very bad, I hide it the best I.can but it’s a struggle! I feel for the soldiers coming home to the sorry state of affairs we have going on nowadays

  • billy joe ness says:

    So priority is the 358 alright is either them or Im gonna kill myself this cant go on either that son of a bitch dies or I wrists I fucking took all heat and I not even get a fucking cent no hommie sooo I better see that guy suffer and hear news it got killed or Im killing myself I DONT NEED TO MERRY AND LEAVE KIDS HELL NO

  • MDMA, Ketamine, mescaline… Many substances with unknown benefits that can help but our archaic criminal drug system causes more harm than good.

  • Medical treatment is one way to use drugs. But did you know that the War on Drugs and their Criminalization has caused more damage to society than being legal? Everyone who is informed about this topic realises that we need new drug policies. Seriously. It can help.

  • HELL WITH IT!! B. L. A. says:

    ya I know all about it. The drugs that are given doesn’t work and killed all emotional feeling. So I stopped and switched to something that does work.
    Cannibis Going strong and still working

  • Be very careful with the drugs, if you are seriously considering this, please do it with lots of professional support and with emergency medical access if something goes wrong.
    For some, these types of therapies for PTSD and even drug/alcohol addiction may assist you with positive results, and the best of luck to you, but it is not for everyone and you must still be vigilant about your health ongoing.
    But for a few, these therapies can cause disastrous consequences. If you are sensitive to drugs in general, are taking any drugs for any reason, or can not tolerate drugs consider EMDR therapy, it is non-invasive but takes a lot of time and work.
    For someone like me with mental health issues psychedelic hard drugs have had disastrous cognitive effects, I was never been able to tolerate them as a youth in the 70s, 80s.

  • Before anyone runs out and tries psycedelics please look up HPPD. Remember the patients are in a controlled setting which is very good harm reduction. Just want ya to know of possible negatives HPPD is hell. That being said I truly do believe in the powers of these medicines.

  • As a war veteran who is happily married and is a manager in the tech industry, I can say that mdma transformed my life. It's like your brain is a big mush of tangled hair and mdma is the comb that de-tangles all of the knots in your brain. It's like 100 therapy session mashed into one. The key point is that it makes you intensely sensitive but also detached at the same time. This enables you to be honest with yourself in a way that is impossible without it. The reason we can't be honest with our selves is because the truth is painful, many folds times more if you have ptsd. In my 33 years I have taken it 3 times because I am in such awe of it. Once every few years. There is no point in doing it often, as there isn't so much to process in the consecutive months.

  • I have C-PTSD and MDMA taught me how to love again and showed me who I was before all the shit happened to me. We need to define the line between helpful and harmful drugs in society.

  • Amelia Sedgwick says:

    Its been shown that long term use of MDMA in recreational users can cause anxiety and depression so how do we know that after a long time these PTSD suffers wont feel that effect ?

  • How bout no longer engaging in wars for Israeli religious fanatics so we don't have to take party drugs invented by Jewish chemists and pushed by Jewish psychotherapists?

  • as someone who lived a life plagued by the after-mark of PTSD, MDMA for therapeutic treatment is helpful beyond words. Once we remove stigma, look at the reasoning and science behind these tools, a lot can be done to help so many others.

  • Harvard as of 2020 is bringing attention to the use of microdose amounts of controlled MDMA, ketamine alongside other psychoactive medicinals including psilocybin for psychopathy. Remove the stigma and look at how the chemicals react in a brain scan. Would only be done solely in the setting of a controlled laboratory and clinically certified psychologists.

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