Marines suffering from PTSD are now being given ‘love drug’ MDMA to cope with the hardships of returning home after battle.
The soldiers are being treated by an organization called Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), whose mission is to discover the use of the dance floor drug in medical contexts. They are offered doses of up to 125 mg, which is more than typically consumed by someone for recreational use.
The Verge spoke to US Marine Corp veteran Nicholas Blackston whose Humvee was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq during his second deployment in 2006. His driver was killed, and Blackston took shrapnel to his butt, legs and left testicle.
Six months after leaving Iraq, Nick claimed he didn’t quite feel like himself. He was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed Seroquel, an antipsychotic, and Zoloft, an antidepressant. He said that all the medication did was make him feel like a zombie. And when Blackston started to experience suicidal thoughts, he knew he needed to investigate alternative methods of treatment. Nick admitted,
“I was at the end of my rope. I was ready to try anything.”
That’s when Nick caught wind of MAPS MDMA study. He enrolled, and he began MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions. Nick would pop a pill in the morning and a therapist would sit with him for eight hours, discussing the events that caused Nick’s PTSD.
According to the Verge, image studies of a PTSD brain indicate that there are three sections of the brain that operate abnormally, including the amygdala or the brain’s “fear center.” After soldiers are given MDMA, the activity within the amygdala decreases, essentially evening out the brain so proper therapy can be given.
Blackston, who completed three 75 mg sessions and three full dose (125 mg) sessions, said the therapy cured him.
“I had a profound moment, I guess it felt like a bird’s-eye view of how everything went down [in Iraq] and why it happened. I was a machine gunner. I was supposed to take anyone out before they take us out, and getting hit was my responsibility, and my driver dying weighed a lot on me. I had that guilt for the longest time.”
After the therapy, the guilt and trauma Blackston once felt was seen in a completely new light.
“I saw my whole past completely differently. It no longer became something that was haunting me.”
Nick still has feelings of uneasiness and anxiety, but now filters all this energy into painting.
Nick’s case isn’t uncommon either. In a recent study, 10 out of 12 patients no longer registered PTSD on their CAPS score after undergoing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
This is a beacon of hope for the people who deserve it most. Many soldiers indicate that the battle doesn’t end when the combat does, but it’s most intense when trying to assimilate into society as we know it. Any therapy or substance that helps with rehabilitation, regardless of the stigma, should be made available for America’s bravest.
[Via The Verge]