New York Times reviews the research demonstrating that MDMA, better known as X, can work wonders with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder patients:
Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.
“I feel survivor’s guilt, both for coming back from Iraq alive and now for having had a chance to do this therapy,” said Anthony, a 25-year-old living near Charleston, S.C., who asked that his last name not be used because of the stigma of taking the drug. “I’m a different person because of it.”
In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment — which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA — write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA.
The study is the first long-term test to suggest that psychiatrists’ tentative interest in hallucinogens and other recreational drugs — which have been taboo since the 1960s — could pay off. And news that the Mithoefers are beginning to test the drug in veterans is out, in the military press and on veterans’ blogs. “We’ve had more than 250 vets call us,” Dr. Mithoefer said. “There’s a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all.”
The couple, working with other researchers, will treat no more than 24 veterans with the therapy, following Food and Drug Administration protocols for testing an experimental drug; MDMA is not approved for any medical uses.
A handful of similar experiments using MDMA, LSD or marijuana are now in the works in Switzerland, Israel and Britain, as well as in this country. Both military and civilian researchers are watching closely. So far, the research has been largely supported by nonprofit groups.
“When it comes to the health and well-being of those who serve, we should leave our politics at the door and not be afraid to follow the data,” said Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, a psychiatrist who recently retired from the Army. “There’s now an evidence base for this MDMA therapy and a plausible story about what may be going on in the brain to account for the effects.”
(found via MAPS’ media center)