HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ecstasy for Troops

No, this isn't a new recruiting tool to increase our volunteer army, but rather a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to help American soldiers traumatised by their fighting experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to the Guardian,  the FDA has approved an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy can treat post-traumatic stress disorder, including symptoms such as flashbacks and recurring nightmares. PTSD is a disorder that approximately 30 percent of combat veterans experience sometime during their lives.  According to the article,

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.

Michael Mithoefer, the psychiatrist leading the trial, said: "It's looking very promising. It's too early to draw any conclusions but in these treatment-resistant people so far the results are encouraging. "People are able to connect more deeply on an emotional level with the fact they are safe now."

Obviously there are serious concerns by some that by experimenting with such drugs sends the wrong message, a message about their safety.  It should be interesting to see how these trials progress.   For those who wish to follow-up, Dr. Mithoefer will soon be advertising for veterans to participate in his studies.  [bm]

Thanks to BoingBoing and Majikthise for the information.

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