Psychoactive drug could help troops with PTSD, UK general says
Britain’s former Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter has drawn public attention to the possible treatment of severe PTSD with the psychoactive drug MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy and currently outlawed in the UK.
With British trials of ecstasy-assisted therapy expected to start in early 2022 at King’s College London, Carter featured the issue on Thursday’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ program, which he guest-edited.
Listeners were told Carter wanted to highlight research in the United States, where the approval for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could come as early as 2023.
The show included an interview with Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, as well as speaking to a participant in US trials.
According to Doblin, ecstasy “affects the distribution of activity in the brain.” By reducing activity in those parts which deal with “difficult emotions,” the drug lets people process fears and painful memories more easily. Doblin underlined that ecstasy by itself is not enough for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, and that it should be used in combination with therapy.
A Vietnam War veteran who suffered from PTSD for more than 50 years confirmed that MDMA therapy has had a “calming” effect, enabling him to return to a relatively normal life and even make new friends.
Despite its apparent potential, ecstasy is qualified as a Class A drug in the UK; possession can carry a seven-year jail sentence, while dealing carries a potential life sentence.
Due to its popularity as a ‘party drug’, MDMA causes the deaths of dozens of young people in the UK annually.