Under the Radar

Sound Off: Should the U.S. Make Ecstasy Available as a PTSD Treatment?


Somehow, in the midst of all the 24/7 coverage of the incoming Trump administration, the media as ignored a potentially huge story from the New York Times: "F.D.A. Agrees to New Trials for Ecstasy as Relief for PTSD Patients."

Short version: Dr. Michael C. Mithoefer, a South Carolina psychiatrist, conducted two trials that "focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years. After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found."

Anyone who's dealing with post traumatic stress or has family members going through the struggle will recognize that those numbers are huge.

C. J. Hardin, a veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, had no success with current treatments and ended up living in a remote North Carolina cabin before he decided to participate in the study.

“It changed my life,” he said in a recent interview in the bright, airy living room of the suburban ranch house here, where he now lives while going to college and working as an airplane mechanic. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.”

Unfortunately, the DEA has declared ecstasy (properly known as MDMA) a Schedule 1 drug, barring all legal use. That's in part due to its reputation as a party drug, the fuel that fires the underground electronic dance music scene and the euphoric highs that rave culture celebrates.

Based on evidence from those early trials, the FDA just gave permission for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug.  Success could lead to approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug.

Of course, there are thousands of active duty and veteran men and women who could use the drug right now. Should the government make it easier for those experiencing PTSD to try MDMA as a treatment option? Or is the risk of abuse from these kinds of drugs too great? Should the government keep the current bans in place? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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