The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the design of two Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA for treating PTSD, according to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is funding and leading the clinical trials.
A growing body of research suggests that MDMA and other psychedelic drugs can be effective treatment for ailments ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to social anxiety in autistic adults.
A small U.S. study that first suggested MDMA could help treat PTSD was published in 2011. Since then, researchers in Canada, Israel and the United States have jointly carried out larger Phase II trials.
What we do know is that 107 participants who had suffered from PTSD for an average of 17.8 years were treated in the Phase II trials. Of the 90 patients who were available to be studied 12 months later, 61 no longer had PTSD.
However, because of the stigma attached to psychedelics, many military and government leaders are still hesitant to embrace them.
But, the scope and severity of PTSD among our veterans makes it all irrelevant, according to retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who until 2010 was the highest-ranking psychiatrist in the U.S. Army.
“If this is something that could really save lives, we need to run and not walk toward it,” Sutton said. “We need to follow the data.”
PTSD has been a problem for the military for decades, but America’s recent wars have pushed it to epidemic-levels. PTSD-related suicides among veterans are as high as 22 per day, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.