The Peace Drug
November 27, 2007 4:53 PM   Subscribe

The Peace Drug The Washington Post Magazine takes a look at MDMA as a cure for PTSD.
posted by empath (76 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
"a fringe hypothesis"

That about sums it up..

The solution to the thousands of men and women coming back from Iraq with PTSD does NOT lie in subjecting them to drugs..

the solution lies in bringing them back and ending the fucking war before there is a need for this!

Sorry for the rant, but the putting this forward as a solution is just absurd...
posted by HuronBob at 5:00 PM on November 27, 2007


I actually predicted amongst friends that this would happen after we started getting tons of people back from the war with PTSD.
posted by empath at 5:04 PM on November 27, 2007




Stopping further PSTD sufferers from arising is a good idea. Curing current PSTD sufferers is also a good idea.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:05 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


ABC World News Tonight: MDMA Used in Treating PTSD.
posted by ericb at 5:08 PM on November 27, 2007


The Guardian UK: Ecstasy Trials for Combat Stress [February 17 2005].
posted by ericb at 5:10 PM on November 27, 2007


the solution lies in bringing them back and ending the fucking war before there is a need for this!

Too late.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2007


The Washington Post Magazine takes a look at MDMA as a cure for PTSD in a context other than the usual self-medication.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2007


Lest we forget the work/research of Dr. Lester Grinspoon (Harvard University Medical School) on the therapeutic use of MDMA.

He also investigated Cannabis and PTSD.
posted by ericb at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2007


Sorry for the rant, but the putting this forward as a solution is just absurd...

Apology accepted, because your rant is certainly a rant, as well as quite ignorant. MDMA has a long history of psychiatric applications. A lot of interesting research was cut short by gov't crackdowns when it became a popular party drug.
posted by mek at 5:29 PM on November 27, 2007


If you don't want to click through:

Both the non-medical and therapeutic use of MDMA were made illegal in 1985 despite the Drug Enforcement Administration Administrative Law Judge Francis Young's recommendation that physicians be permitted to continue to administer it to their patients.

posted by mek at 5:30 PM on November 27, 2007


"the solution lies in bringing them back and ending the fucking war before there is a need for this!"

That's a great plan. I'll just fire up the ol' time machine OH WAIT
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on November 27, 2007


Grouping psychedelics with drugs like heroin and crack or even alcohol has long been a disservice to the exploration of the human mind. Nearly anyone who has experimented with them knows the kind of therapeutic power they can wield. They should be treated with respect, but in moderation even the bad trips teach you something about yourself.

It does not surprise me in the least that MDMA, a mild psychedelic, would help people who went through such traumatic experiences to confront the root of their problems. Combined with therapy, great things could be accomplished.
posted by rooftop secrets at 5:42 PM on November 27, 2007


Take two triple-stack Mitsubishis and call me in the morning.
posted by phaedon at 5:44 PM on November 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


the solution lies in bringing them back and ending the fucking war before there is a need for this!

Unfortunately, as others are stating, there is already a need for this. I totally agree that stopping the war and preventing future sufferers is a good idea, but I promise you, there are thousands of people that are going to come back from this fight really, really damaged.

This is made worse by the fact that PTSD is considered a no-no in the military, and if a soldier gets treated for it, a lot of times his chances of staying in as a career get a lot slimmer. As a result, many soldiers suffer in silence.

I don't care if it's MDMA, pot, or PEZ candies. If it's shown to help, get it to the people that need it.
posted by quin at 5:45 PM on November 27, 2007


MDMA: makes PTSD GTFO!
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 5:57 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Grouping psychedelics with drugs like heroin and crack or even alcohol has long been a disservice to the exploration of the human mind. Nearly anyone who has experimented with them knows the kind of therapeutic power they can wield.

Speaking as a previous user, psychedelic drugs aren't magic, even in moderation. IMO, they can only teach lies, except for what you had the sense to learn anyway.

I'm conflicted about this idea (MDMA 4 PTSD). It's obviously beneficial to the patients in the short term, but I'm also sickened by the idea of government-issued drugs to forget government-issued trauma.
posted by Laugh_track at 5:58 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


What is the cure for Post MDMA Stress Disorder?
posted by b1tr0t at 5:59 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


rooftop secrets writes "would help people who went through such traumatic experiences to confront the root of their problems."

Fascinating. Still, I find the following more interesting: why should one use a medication to fix us perception of "truth" (or misperception thereof) so that is if not pleasant, at least not depressing ?

I can't help thinking about how one could just fix reality by making it "look" good with a shot of dopamine, which is most of us do with recreational drugs such as alcohol so to say, and how it doesn't make sense IF the "reality" or the "pain causing factor" can be fixed without creating dependencies, both psycological and chemical, but also economical.

I guess a reality that needs an even harmless drugs to be fine enough, it's an unstable dominable trick.
posted by elpapacito at 6:06 PM on November 27, 2007


My mom was in a relationship with a really nice guy who was a classic PTSD story. He was a marine in Vietnam, was on point for months, and killed a lot of people. He had gruesome stories of hiding behind the bodies of his dead buddies in jungle fights.

He took every drug he could get his hands on, legal or otherwise, but he said MDMA helped a lot. Surprisingly, he reported that LSD was also helpful.
posted by mullingitover at 6:06 PM on November 27, 2007


pot.
posted by empath at 6:06 PM on November 27, 2007


b1tr0t writes "What is the cure for Post MDMA Stress Disorder?"

That's like asking what the cure is for post-full body massage stress disorder.
posted by mullingitover at 6:10 PM on November 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


elpapacito, the idea isn't to put these people on ecstasy all the time, but to just use it for a few sessions so they're actually comfortable enough to talk through their issues with a stranger.

As someone with some experience, in the uh, er, field, you'd be surprised to hear the kind of trauma that people will open up to you about, even if you're a complete stranger. And they'll do it with a wistful smile on their face, even if they're talking about tragic, movie-of-the-week material.

I could easily see how a trained therapist in the right conditions could have incredible breakthroughs with people in one or two sessions.
posted by empath at 6:11 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Elpapacito: It's not about making reality "look" good by getting some feel-good chemical secreted. It's about being able to peel away layers of defense mechanisms and mental roadblocks created by trauma in order to work out what is causing the person pain. Also, these people aren't advocating MDMA use as a constant treatment for PTSD, but rather as a temporary tool to help with therapy (at least, that's what they should be doing). I am the last person to say medication is the way to go with any sort of disorder (in fact, I irrationally refuse to take any pills/drugs unless it's on a recreational basis simply because I think medication tends to mask problems rather than solve them). In my experience, psychedelics (esp. the stronger ones) were the least addictive drugs I've ever tried, I wouldn't even want to do them on a regular basis.

Laugh_track: I don't recall saying psychedelics were magic at any point. I do think they tap into certain areas of the brain that are often obscured by the conscious mind, IF YOU LET THEM. They also have the potential to simply give you fanciful hallucinations and provide no depth whatsoever. It's up to the user, and that's why MDMA being used in a therapeutic setting would provide different results than rolling at a club.

I knew I shouldn't have posted right before work ended. I have to run, but I'd love to continue this conversation later.
posted by rooftop secrets at 6:19 PM on November 27, 2007


what empath said as well.
posted by rooftop secrets at 6:20 PM on November 27, 2007


I could easily see how a trained therapist in the right conditions could have incredible breakthroughs with people in one or two sessions.

Dude, let's get real. WaPo doesn't have shit better to write about than "local woman takes ecstasy and feels better, film at 11." I mean, talk about throwing alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, LSD, opium and heroin under the bus. All legitimate gateways to "incredible breakthroughs" - with the help of a "trained therapist", "in the rights conditions", amirite? But let's be optimistic, because Donna over here tripped balls and feels a lot better now.

What a sad little article.
posted by phaedon at 6:28 PM on November 27, 2007


The use of offbeat things to work with those troubled with PTSD reaches into many areas. Pot as noted is used. Ecstacy is used. Here is one not mentioned: http://www.amazon.com/Shivitti-Vision-Gateways-Consciousness-Classics/dp/0895561131

A famous writer (Israeli) who suffered from life and near death at Auscwhitz went to the Netherlands upon the urging of his wife (I Knew her) and was treated with LSD over a period of time. That doctor used LSD and specialized in concentration survivors. The patient's nightmares receded and he was able to write and lived to be 94 years old.
Meanwhile virtual reality is also now being tried...I know some Nam guys who get regular medication at VA Hospitals all these years later. One, whom I see daily at a coffee place he owns, went from raging fits to near comatose till meds given in correct dosage.

While it is all well and good to say bring the troops home, there are many who have been on a number of outrs and are fucked up. And the suicide rate is very high.
posted by Postroad at 6:31 PM on November 27, 2007


"IMO, they can only teach lies, except for what you had the sense to learn anyway. "

Only teach lies? Maybe you should look to more authoritative sources than Chick tracts.


There was an article a couple years back, I wanna say in the Atlantic Monthly, about the history of MDMA in America. MDMA was primarily used as a theraputic drug until the early '80s, when it caught on as a street drug prior to being scheduled. The reasons why it works should be apparent to anyone who's taken it, but for those of you who haven't, it accentuates the feelings of trust and intimacy while simultaneously acting as a stimulant (it is a methamphetamine, after all).

LSD can also have fantastic therapeutic uses by breaking down inhibitions and encouraging a detached, analytical feeling.

I have a hard time believing that the knee-jerk dismissals come from anyone with any real experience with either drug, though I do note that acid alone can't negate the inherent dumbass.
posted by klangklangston at 6:43 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


phaedon writes "All legitimate gateways to 'incredible breakthroughs' - with the help of a 'trained therapist', 'in the rights conditions', amirite?"

I kind of get what rooftop and empath points are , which are basically the same. Imagine an alcohol high, if you ever had one. Doesn't need to get a lot of intoxication to see that alcohol do change your behavior ; among the effects (not the same on every person , of course, but on range) is that of "caring less about" which is , literally, not even thinking about what would ordinarly prohibit one to say "goddam motherfucker" or some other behavior that is being repressed.

Among the things that doesn't get repressed, may be some assertion such as " damn xxxx did that to me, I so fucking hate for doing that" ...which may help somebody (hopefully a trained person, somebody which doesn't have a degree in law and is improvising psycotheraphy) spot what could be an issue the person hasn't dealt with, or learned to let go.

Actually, I am just very much annoyed by the concept that the road to a "good enough life" , in which one doesn't sufffer excessively, could be packaged and offered in a cocktail of drugs, even if it still cannot be done.
posted by elpapacito at 6:46 PM on November 27, 2007


phaedon writes "I mean, talk about throwing alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, LSD, opium and heroin under the bus. All legitimate gateways to 'incredible breakthroughs' - with the help of a 'trained therapist', 'in the rights conditions', amirite?"

Having experience with...let's see...all these, I am here to report that MDMA is in a different class. In short, no, ur not rite.
posted by mullingitover at 6:53 PM on November 27, 2007


Well then maybe they should add your comment in as a footnote somewhere, that's about how well fucking documented this cover story is. "Dude things ecstasy is in whole different class, film at 11".
posted by phaedon at 7:04 PM on November 27, 2007


why should one use a medication to fix us perception of "truth" (or misperception thereof) so that is if not pleasant, at least not depressing ?

Combat PTSD is the result of having your brain rewired so you can handle the rigors of combat. All your brain's functions get reprogrammed by being hammered with sensory overload, emotional overload, sleep deprivation, long periods of boredom punctuated by short bursts of hyperactivity. We simply weren't built to withstand that kind of stress. It's not just depression, it's having your instincts, reactions & emotions rewired for an extremely unpredictable environment. In the short term it helps soldiers survive but it's not sustainable in the long term, especially after they come back home to an environment where death isn't around every corner but your reactions are hair-triggered to expect that it is.

The answer to a disorder that rewires your brain is something that can help you untangle the snarls. If MDMA can help in that process, I'm all for it.
posted by scalefree at 7:05 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was going to say the same thing, mulling it over. LSD and shrooms are the only that are similar, in terms of the ability to open up minds to new possibilities, but that's like driving a nail with a sledgehammer.

There are some things that you literally cannot understand unless you've done them. Drugs don't go on a continuum from 'alcohol'(weak), to 'heroin'(strong). They all alter perception in different ways, and not all perception-altering drugs are bad in all cases.

Millions of people take zoloft, etc. Anti depressents literally are no different from ecstasy in what they do to the brain. The difference is that ecstasy is intense and fast acting and you don't stay on it all the time, and the anti-depressents you have to take for the rest of your life.

If it literally is possible to improve peoples lives after a few sessions with e, why is that worse than prescribing someone a mind altering drug like prozac for the rest of their lives?

What if it's more than 2 or 3 sessions? What if someone needs to do it say, once every month or 2 months and is sober the rest of the time? Is that really worse than someone eating a prozac every few hours?

What is the moral difference here? Except that ecstasy is a hell of a lot more fun than prozac?
posted by empath at 7:13 PM on November 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Laugh_track writes "Speaking as a previous user, psychedelic drugs aren't magic, even in moderation. IMO, they can only teach lies, except for what you had the sense to learn anyway. "

Not magic. It's a tool - it can be, anyway. It did open my eyes more than once. The last time, it was such a profound experience that my life changed forever by it, and quite a bit for the better. It wasn't my intent, but it sorta kicked my ass. I don't want to get into it right now, but without that experience, I might have been dead by now. Not a born-again thing, but I can see how it happens, as life is thousands times better these days. I am not going to go as far as recommending people take these things thinking they will have the same experience, but my advice is don't underestimate the experiences of others.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:36 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand some of the objections voiced above to using MDMA therapeutically.

All of medicine is a tacit acknowledgment that our bodies' defense and repair mechanisms just aren't good enough, that sometimes we can do better. Accepting treatments that alter other parts of the body but rejecting treatments that alter the brains strikes me as rather arbitrary.

What's more, I'm just not comfortable taking a moral stance against PTSD sufferers using whatever means they can to try to find some respite. I've led an easy life, relative to someone who has served an extended tour of duty, and I feel completely unqualified to tell such a person what they should and shouldn't be able to handle without help.

In any event, surely it's fallacious to ascribe a moral value to a physical substance simply because of how it's been used or misused. It might very well be dangerous to use MDMA (I don't know), and for some people, it might be unjustifiably dangerous. I don't see how it can be said invariably to be wrong, though.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 7:38 PM on November 27, 2007


That's like asking what the cure is for post-full body massage stress disorder.

I think you'd find that heavy and prolonged use of MDMA can easily lead to stress, anxiety, depression. Unfortunately.

I've been aware of the MAPS studies for a while (and the earlier use of MDMA in relationship therapy). Interesting, and heartening, to see some mainstream coverage of this, though.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:40 PM on November 27, 2007


What I'm personally curious about is what they find about 'suicide tuesday'. The low point that happens a few days after doing E when you're tapped out of serotonin.
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


rooftop secrets: I do think they tap into certain areas of the brain that are often obscured by the conscious mind, IF YOU LET THEM.

klangklangston: Only teach lies? Maybe you should look to more authoritative sources than Chick tracts.

Allow me to elaborate. Let's assume that the deepest truths about ourselves lie hidden in our subconscious. Freud might have agreed with this statement. Since psychedelics allow us to "tap into certain areas of the brain that are often obscured by the conscious mind", it follows that psychedelics allow us to learn new, useful things about ourselves.

But I don't agree with the first statement. I think the deepest truths about ourselves concern our habits and our beliefs, which are fully accessible to consciousness.

Also, just think about it. I don't know about you, but hearing a person say "When I was on ecstasy, I realized X" would not make me any more likely to believe X. Although it may make me want to take ecstasy more.

Tex: I'm just not comfortable taking a moral stance against PTSD sufferers using whatever means they can to try to find some respite.

Me either. It's a really difficult call. I think for me, it would come down to who's administering it.
posted by Laugh_track at 8:01 PM on November 27, 2007


Can someone explain to me the difference between MDMA and MDA(which used to be called "the love drug"? )
posted by konolia at 8:04 PM on November 27, 2007


Laugh_track writes "But I don't agree with the first statement. I think the deepest truths about ourselves concern our habits and our beliefs, which are fully accessible to consciousness."

Yes, but sometimes it's not that easy. If it were, why would anyone need therapy? Why does it concern you that other people reach their truths in a different way? It sounds like you never got much out of it, which is what it is. That's not how it worked out for many other people, however. What if someone else actually got something out of it? What of it?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:13 PM on November 27, 2007


MDA is a precursor to MDMA and you'll often find street ecstasy with a 50/50 mix or simply 100% MDA.

It lasts longer (8-10 hours as opposed to 3-4 hours) and it cause more perceptual distortion than MDMA does. Typically MDMA visuals are fairly mild, usually they only happen if you close your eyes and drift. MDA visuals are more in your face, trippier, can sometimes even be scary.

MDA also has a harder edge emotionally. You aren't as emotional or as in touch with your feelings, and it's more speedy. You can also have sex on MDA much easier than you can on MDMA. Not that that would matter in a therapeutic session :)

I do not like MDA at all and do not recommend it. Some of my friends prefer it, but my friends are crazy.
posted by empath at 8:15 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


don't know about you, but hearing a person say "When I was on ecstasy, I realized X" would not make me any more likely to believe X.

What's the difference between that and 'when i was in therapy/while i was meditating/when i was praying, I realized X'

If the important thing is 'realizing x', why does it matter what made you realize it?

If 5 hours and a $20 pill make you realize something that years of therapy and medication wasn't able to, where is the problem?
posted by empath at 8:18 PM on November 27, 2007


Why all the drug-hate in this thread? If XTC helps people cope with their trauma, great. Give it to them. Help them get over it. If it doesn't help, or if the risks outweigh the benefits, then don't give it to them -- or at least tell them the risks ahead of time and let them find out for themselves.

Why does our good ol fashioned American pragmatism have to go out the window when we talk about drugs?
posted by Avenger at 8:25 PM on November 27, 2007


From my own experience, I believe that regular recreational use of these and other psychedelics during my late teens and twenties has improved my life in long-lasting and valuable ways.

Benefits I can clearly trace include an unusually stable and loving circle of friendships (formed under the influence of copious quantities of MD* synthesized by chemist friends back when it was legal), enhanced relationships with family, a resilient sense of myself even under mental conditions that are frightening or disorienting, and perceptions and insights that illumine, comfort, and amuse me to this day, a quarter of a century later.

I found the accounts in that article both moving and persuasive. I have no trouble believing that for some people, MDMA can produce the kinds of effects the study indicates. If so, I think withholding it from people suffering from an illness as life-crippling and poorly treatable as PTSD is unconscionably inhumane.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:43 PM on November 27, 2007


empath writes "What I'm personally curious about is what they find about 'suicide tuesday'. The low point that happens a few days after doing E when you're tapped out of serotonin."

I am not sure what the people who conduct the studies do, but there are ways to mitigate the depletion.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:44 PM on November 27, 2007


Doesn't chronic MDMA use give people Swiss Cheese for a brain? Wouldn't a lobotomy and some ECT be more efficient?
posted by Reggie Digest at 8:51 PM on November 27, 2007


"What's the difference between that and 'when i was in therapy/while i was meditating/when i was praying, I realized X'

If the important thing is 'realizing x', why does it matter what made you realize it?"

One important difference is that the retention of the insight X is better with therapy than with drug treatments. With the right therapists, you learn techniques you can repeat at any time in your life, regardless of your material circumstances. But with a drug, retaining the insights is sometimes dependent on continued exposure to the drug (which can be contingent on having money/insurance/refills for your prescription).

One interesting exception to this line of thought would be propanolol, which may help prevent PTSD in the first place, if administered soon enough after a stressor. If propanolol pans out in clinical trials, you wouldn't have to keep taking it to keep reaping its benefits, because it (supposedly) prevents emotionally-charged memories from taking on a traumatic character.
posted by Jpfed at 9:03 PM on November 27, 2007


empath: Theraputic doses of MDMA are much, much lower than recreational uses, and I recall from my interest in it some time ago that the low from those low doses is almost nonexistant.

Reggie: Yeah, and pot makes you impotent. *rolls eyes*
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:06 PM on November 27, 2007


Bring the raves to Iraq. PLUR up that FUBAR shit with the MDMA ASAP.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Benefits I can clearly trace include an unusually stable and loving circle of friendships (formed under the influence of copious quantities of MD* synthesized by chemist friends back when it was legal), enhanced relationships with family, a resilient sense of myself even under mental conditions that are frightening or disorienting, and perceptions and insights that illumine, comfort, and amuse me to this day, a quarter of a century later.

(not to mention some interesting experiences with otters, which probably wouldn't have happened otherwise)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:10 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Laugh_track writes I think the deepest truths about ourselves concern our habits and our beliefs, which are fully accessible to consciousness.

I don't think behavior patterns are necessarily fully accessible to consciousness. Sometimes the new perspective of an altered consciousness can help people to analyze their own behaviors, convictions, and values in a new light. A lot of folks use psychedelic drugs recreationally or socially without regard to intense introspection or personal growth (which is probably more common with a drug like MDMA than LSD), but this doesn't make the kinds of experiences one might have any less worthwhile. Such drug experiences certainly aren't for everyone, but if your personal beliefs don't coincide with drug use, please to keep in mind that they're a valid part of some peoples' quests for truth.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:12 PM on November 27, 2007


Reggie Digest: Doesn't chronic MDMA use give people Swiss Cheese for a brain? Wouldn't a lobotomy and some ECT be more efficient?


I'll never understand this line of reasoning.

But... we can't make that legal! When you use it irresponsibly, bad things could happen to you!



Yeah, CHRONIC usage probably does bad things to you - though Olney's Lesions ("holes in your brain") have never really shown up in humans. If you applied this logic to everything, everything would be illegal. Alcohol, cars, aspirin, chocolate...
posted by empty commercial spaces at 9:34 PM on November 27, 2007


Are you calling Nancy Reagan a liar????

Anyway, on a not totally sarcastic note (sheesh, people!), I am of the opinion that developing an effective treatment for PTSD (or whatever they're calling it these days) is not a good thing. It should be treated, of course, but not to the extent that it makes possible longer deployments, more stressful conditions, or redeployment of apparently rehabilitated soldiers.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:56 PM on November 27, 2007


[obvious]. It's the drug against war.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:11 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


[obvious]. It's the drug against war.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:11 PM on November 27, 2007


laugh-track: I think the deepest truths about ourselves concern our habits and our beliefs, which are fully accessible to consciousness. (emphasis mine)

must be nice to be so certain of things. hey, by the way, what's the path to world peace?

this statement may be true for you, but it most certainly is not true for everyone. PTSD rarely occurs in a vacuum; oftentimes, sufferers also experience other mood or personality disorders. are you arguing that, for example, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder includes 'habits...which are fully accessible to consciousness?'

methinks you have a lot to learn about brain science. and consciousness. the first thing to learn: our understanding of these things is so elementary, making blanket statements about any of it is folly.
posted by CitizenD at 10:17 PM on November 27, 2007


Reggie Digest : Doesn't chronic MDMA use give people Swiss Cheese for a brain?

I suspect that this point has already been sufficiently made, but just to hammer it home; morphine is also really bad for you if you use it chronically, but it's really useful for saving people horrible pain when going through surgery and rehabilitation.

I am of the opinion that developing an effective treatment for PTSD (or whatever they're calling it these days) is not a good thing.

I'd vastly prefer that we returned to the tried and true term "shell shock"; it's nicely alliterate and it bypasses the useless horseshit that is the PC and watered down Post Traumatic Stress Disorder... but if we are going to accept that this is the presently endorsed term, I have to disagree with your choice that we don't treat, or choose not to treat this.

On the one hand, it's the responsible thing to do, I know that it feeds the conflict, but saving the lives of the people fighting does not approximate condoning this war. These are real people in a bad way who deserve help.

And on the other (darker) hand, it protects us; Have you ever seen a former combat vet lose his shit and harm someone way outside what is appropriate? I have. And the last thing I want spilling onto our streets is hardened combat personnel with a grudge and point to make.

I've never tried MDA or MDMA, but I have many friends that suffered poorly and unnecessarily. I don't know enough to say that this will help them, but I am willing to give it a chance.

I hate this stupid and pointless fight we are in, but I would never deny a single victim of it the help that they need and have earned.
posted by quin at 10:45 PM on November 27, 2007


Why does our good ol fashioned American pragmatism have to go out the window when we talk about drugs?

Because it's no match for good old fashioned American puritanism.
posted by homunculus at 10:47 PM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's the drug against war.

For the record, that is my favorite KMFDM song.
posted by quin at 10:50 PM on November 27, 2007


So the guy who's the opposing voice in the article, Andy Parrott: I pulled down his review of MDMA-treatment (from here [PDF]), and his "main problem" with it being used clinically is "that that there is no clear neurochemical model for how MDMA can relieve psychiatric distress." He doesn't understand how it works, and therefore he doesn't think it should be used! Therapeutic psychology would seem a pretty piss-poor career choice for him.

That was before I read the last two pages of the article, where he says things that are making me expel steam from my ears. He doesn't think the trials should have gone ahead, and he doesn't want any more, despite their filling a gaping hole in the literature that he himself points out - that there are no controlled studies of the effects of MDMA on mentally ill people. He is particularly opposed to using it if it works, because if the patients feel better, it might cause them to seek a repeat - which would be bad, because, well, MDMA is bad.

This professor* claims to be seeking knowledge while actively seeking to bury that knowledge. I hope that that counts for something with those who have problems with self-reported experiences and the like.

*"Professor Andy Parrott is an international authority on the human psychobiology of MDMA or Ecstasy", dontcha know.
posted by topynate at 10:57 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's no neurochemical model for how ritalin works either.
posted by empath at 11:15 PM on November 27, 2007


quin: morphine is also really bad for you if you use it chronically

Did you mean to qualify this statement? Because despite the WoD, chronic opioid therapy (including morphine, and in the UK, heroin) is an established medical practice.
posted by daksya at 11:28 PM on November 27, 2007


Actually I've seen it work first-hand.

My wife and I went through a miscarriage that was devastating. She especially was in bad shape, but a few months after the incident, we took a pill with some friends, and aside from having a nice little party, she was able to really open up and talk about it.

By no means was it a "cure", but it certainly helped us move past that phase in our lives.

The funny thing is, people look at something like this in horror, and yet millions take a slow fix every day in the form of Prosac, and other drugs of that ilk. Who's to say that a cataclysmic drug experience isn't the way to go? Personally, I found great comfort in an acid trip mere weeks before my father died a horrific death from cancer.

FYI... no... we weren't taking E anywhere near the time of the pregnancy, so that was no possibility of any connection to the miscarriage itself.

And yeah... end the stupid war, and help prevent PTSD before it starts.
posted by Rusty Iron at 12:02 AM on November 28, 2007


quin: I have to disagree with your choice that we don't treat, or choose not to treat this.

First of all, it's thankfully not my choice at all; nor is it my opinion. If you'd bothered to read on a little (to the next sentence, for example), you'd have learned exactly how I feel about the matter, and why:

It should be treated, of course, but not to the extent that it makes possible longer deployments, more stressful conditions, or redeployment of apparently rehabilitated soldiers.

In the case of, say, a rape (as in the article), I'm all for 100% effective treatment. And, yes, in the real world, soldiers, too. I just think such a quick fix might be more beneficial to the Armed Forces than to the individuals therein, and should be treated with a measured amount of suspicion.

(Also: nthing the call for prophylactic measures WRT PTSD in soldiers.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:20 AM on November 28, 2007


I cured mine with good, old fashioned ACID!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:11 AM on November 28, 2007


There was an interesting story on 60 minutes this year. A researcher was testing the use of Propranolol in reducing the traumatic impact of car accidents.

Several studies have shown that if administered soon after an accident Propranolol can dramatically lessened on PTSD. It blocks adrenaline or something.

Anyway, this researcher had some people with long term PTSD as a control group which the drug wasn't supposed to affect. What he found was that if the patient was asked to describe his traumatic incident the drug lessened the effects for them too.

The theory is that when a traumatic memory is triggered adrenaline is released which reinforces the memory.

It's another approach to the same problem with a non-schedule 1 drug.
posted by Bonzai at 1:27 AM on November 28, 2007


It's the drug against war.

I like it - - but it surely works better as "the drug against wars...
posted by fairmettle at 4:36 AM on November 28, 2007


This is an excellent discussion... it's one of those rare moments when my opinions DON'T fall into step with the MeFi hive mind. Jpfed, however, nailed it for me.

CitizenD: must be nice to be so certain of things. hey, by the way, what's the path to world peace?

Pssh, how obvious. Everyone needs to listen to me. :P
posted by Laugh_track at 7:10 AM on November 28, 2007


I don't have any reason to think that ecstasy would stop war. I've seen people do some INCREDIBLY fucked up shit while on ecstasy. It doesn't make you a saint. It just makes you more comfortable in your own skin. That is not always a good thing.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on November 28, 2007


While it is all well and good to say bring the troops home, there are many who have been on a number of outrs and are fucked up. And the suicide rate is very high.

120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week
posted by homunculus at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2007


"But I don't agree with the first statement. I think the deepest truths about ourselves concern our habits and our beliefs, which are fully accessible to consciousness."

I don't either. So let's be done with it, because it's Freudian bullshit. But that doesn't mean that all truths about ourselves are equally accessible to conscious perception all the time.

"Also, just think about it. I don't know about you, but hearing a person say "When I was on ecstasy, I realized X" would not make me any more likely to believe X. Although it may make me want to take ecstasy more."

That's a moronic objection, and one that's vastly ignorant of the subjective experience of MDMA. If I heard someone say that they came to realize something on MDMA, I wouldn't form an opinion about the veracity of their belief objectively, but I would say that they would be more likely to find it subjectively true and really believe it.

"One important difference is that the retention of the insight X is better with therapy than with drug treatments. With the right therapists, you learn techniques you can repeat at any time in your life, regardless of your material circumstances. But with a drug, retaining the insights is sometimes dependent on continued exposure to the drug (which can be contingent on having money/insurance/refills for your prescription)."

Not necessarily. I can easily recall emotions and trains of thought from my experience with MDMA, now roughly five years out (what can I say, it's been hard to find lately). Not only that, but my experiences led me to immediate insights that I used to alter my behavioral patterns and adjust my perceptions of events. But to dismiss the use of these psychotropics with some hand-waving about it maybe not being repeatable is worthless, in that it's not true across the board and similar complaints can be lodged against traditional therapy.

As an aside, God I wish Edmund Husserl had lived long enough to try LSD or MDMA. It's exactly the epoche that he describes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 AM on November 28, 2007


It's not just war veterans and rape victims who get PTSD. Rachel Brown wrote a great series of posts about what it's like to live with PTSD, and how hard it is to recover. I highly recommend reading them.

Why is it that people object to using drugs for therapy if they might also potentially be fun? (Except for Viagra/Cialis, natch.) The "You might *enjoy* this, therefore we won't give you the therapy, even though there's some proof it will alleviate your symptoms for a long time" argument seems particularly Puritanical. Is it better to let people, (for example, those with chronic pain that can be managed with opiates or the above-described PTSD) continue to suffer?
posted by rednikki at 1:34 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


rednikki: thank you for linking to rachael brown's writing. very powerful.
posted by CitizenD at 8:06 PM on November 28, 2007


One sentence from the article bears further explanation:

In Vancouver, Canada, the effectiveness of an ongoing program to treat drug addiction with another potent psychedelic drug, ibogaine, is under scrutiny.

Ibogaine is a potent drug extracted from a West African plant that apparently acts as something approaching an "instant detox" for a variety of drugs including cocaine & heroin, basically resetting the NDMA receptors which are behind the mechanism that causes craving & withdrawal. I'm just a layman so don't hold me to any inexactitude in my wording, go read the website if you want hard details.
posted by scalefree at 2:45 PM on November 30, 2007


Ibogaine's also a very powerful hallucinogen, at the upper end of the scale from what I understand.
posted by scalefree at 2:47 PM on November 30, 2007


Previous posts about Ibogaine.
posted by homunculus at 3:21 PM on November 30, 2007


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