Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Ecstasy to Treat PTSD???
This morning, Military.com reported on a South Carolina psychiatrist exploring the affects of the party drug MDMA, or ecstasy, on PTSD sufferers. After reading the story, I, personally, think there may be some merit to this study. Patients were under the watchful eye of qualified physicians, and the drug seemed to help them properly connect with their emotions. As a veteran of the war in Iraq, and having dealt with this issue first-hand, I realize that confronting suppressed memories and properly connecting with emotions are often the most difficult hurdles in treating combat stress. Why shouldn't the VA give MDMA a look, since its primary function is to enhance emotional response?
Today, most doctors prescribe a barrage of antidepressents and anxiety meds for PTSD sufferers. To me, this seems like the easy way out. I've never been a fan of antidepressents or their side-effects. I find it hard to believe that these drugs would be the only answer. The former Army Ranger quoted in the story said, "I don't want to be part of the Prozac nation. I know some of those people and they don't feel up or down or anything at all."
PTSD has long been an issue for the military, dating back to cases of "shell shock" in WWII. Vietnam Veterans were hung out to dry when they sought to address their mental health issues. It didn't really come to the forefront until this conflict. Unfortunately, the VA still seems to be struggling to adequately treat the condition, as evidenced by recent studies showing a dramatic rise in soldier suicides.
MDMA, like any other pharmaceutical, can have dire consequences if used inappropriately. However, there could be a proper clinical use for the drug after all. I've seen first-hand the kind of effects PTSD can have on troops when they come home. If there's a viable treatment out there, I think the VA should investigate. (Though I guess I can understand their skepticism, in light of last year's Chantix dabacle.)
PS-If you're suffering from combat stress, DO NOT TAKE ECSTASY ON YOUR OWN. The South Carolina study was conducted in a controlled environment and properly sanctioned by the FDA. Ecstasy is still ILLEGAL, and, like any drug, if self-medicate with it, you could DIE. If you're having issues, call the VA. Their 24-hour number is at the bottom of this blog.
(Official DEA photo)