How Psychedelics Could Enable Soldiers Beat Trauma

Data from Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 120,000 veterans in the United States have died by suicide. Many more in America and other parts of the globe struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as conflicts rear their heads globally.

In Ukraine, the ministry of health estimates that close to four million individuals are living with post-traumatic stress disorder. To help manage this, many have turned to psychedelics, and for good reason. Last month, the country’s special parliamentary commission voted to set up a working group that would investigate the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy on post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a statement, Viktor Liashko of the health ministry said that it was important to deal with mental-health issues and assess how new techniques could help qualitatively as well as quickly. This comes after the American Congress voted to conduct research on the effects of psychedelic therapy on soldiers who suffered from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatments currently used for post-traumatic stress disorder include approved antidepressants, such as Paxil and Zoloft, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy. In some cases, patients may be prescribed benzodiazepines and antipsychotic drugs. For most veterans, however, the above options aren’t effective and can have serious side effects.

Adopting psychedelic-assisted therapy would have a huge impact on psychiatry globally. Studies suggest that MDMA can produce changes in the brain that induce neuroplasticity and help individuals form new neural connections. MDMA may soon be approved by the FDA for use in managing post-traumatic disorder.

This isn’t the only psychedelic with medicinal benefits either. Substances such as psilocybin and ibogaine have also shown promise. Some soldiers in Ukraine have also tried using ketamine, a dissociative drug that has hallucinogenic effects,

The country has allowed Dr. Vlasdislav Matrenitsky to carry out research on ketamine therapy as psychedelics become more mainstream. Additionally, Ukraine is also focused on remedying its shortage of therapists trained to offer support after as well as before psychedelic treatment.

Late last year, some Ukrainians took part in a psychedelic therapist-training program organized by MAPS in Sarajevo. MAPS is involved in psychedelic research, including its U.S. trials on MDMA-assisted therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The research comes after some troops received psychedelic treatment and went back to the frontlines. The use of psychedelics here is despite concerns that active duty soldiers using hallucinogens shouldn’t be a decision made lightly as its full implications aren’t known yet.

This isn’t the first-time soldiers have used stimulants during war. In World War 2, soldiers with shell shock were treated with sodium amytal, a potent sedative with severe side effects.

As entities such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) press ahead with their research and development activities, the specific roles that psychedelics can play in helping soldiers and other groups of people to deal with the serious mental-health issues could become better documented.

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