A new scientific study is looking at the impact of MDMA — the key ingredient in the party drug Ecstasy — on veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the Los Angeles Times reports.
Federal authorities have approved studies to examine whether MDMA could help patients with trauma because it may increase levels of serotonin and oxytocin in the brain. Those chemicals may be responsible for the increased feelings of love and connectedness people feel when they take Ecstasy.
The study involving military veterans is being conducted by psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer, who’s also looking at the drug’s effects on firefighters. One participant who got some relief from MDMA is a former major who witnessed a young soldier die in front of him.
In some cases, military veterans with PTSD take the drug on their own, even though psychiatrists don’t recommend self-treatment. One 69-year-old Vietnam veteran named Bob Walker tried the drug on his own; then he tried it a second time and had his girlfriend drive him to his therapy appointment.
Alan Zarembo, of the Los Angeles Times, reports:
Walker said the experience released him from haunting images of seeing a friend killed in a helicopter crash and watching a young Vietnamese boy die in a truck accident. “I didn’t lose any memory of what happened,” he said. “I lost the anxiety.”
The therapist treating Walker said that the barriers he had been putting up during treatment had completely vanished. Walker was able to confront his own trauma.
More trials are necessary before MDMA can be claimed as being effective or not. MDMA trials are increasing worldwide, though. Currently, another round of trials is being held in Canada, according to Vice.
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