In Trials, Ecstasy Drug Helps the Traumatized ; Veterans Seek Treatment That Combines MDMA with Psychotherapy

By Carey, Benedict | International Herald Tribune, November 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

In Trials, Ecstasy Drug Helps the Traumatized ; Veterans Seek Treatment That Combines MDMA with Psychotherapy


Carey, Benedict, International Herald Tribune


Veterans are seeking treatment from a husband-and-wife team that combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA.

Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who suffer from post- traumatic stress have contacted a husband-and-wife team who work out of their home in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.

The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They want to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as ecstasy, a drug that surfaced in the 1980s and '90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. The government criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But regulators have licensed a small number of labs in recent years 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, South Carolina, 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.

The patients in this group included mostly rape victims, and experts familiar with the work cautioned that it was preliminary and its applicability to war trauma unknown. A Defense Department spokeswoman said the military was not involved in research of MDMA.

But given the scarcity of good treatment for post-traumatic stress, "there is a tremendous need to study novel medications" including MDMA, said John H. Krystal, chairman of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

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 media and on veterans' blogs. "We've had more than 250 vets call us, there's a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all," Michael Mithoefer said.

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 Britain, Israel, Switzerland and the United States. Military and civilian researchers alike are watching closely. So far, the research has been largely supported by nonprofit groups.

Two people who have had the therapy -- Anthony, in the veterans study, and another who received the therapy independently -- said in interviews that MDMA produced a mental sweet spot that allowed them to feel and talk about their trauma without being overwhelmed by it.

"It changed my perspective on the entire experience of working at ground zero," said Patrick, a 46-year-old living in San Francisco, who worked long hours in the rubble after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, searching in vain for survivors, as desperate family members of the victims pleaded for information.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Trials, Ecstasy Drug Helps the Traumatized ; Veterans Seek Treatment That Combines MDMA with Psychotherapy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.