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Known "party drug" used to treat PTSD

MDMA or "Ecstasy" is a known party drug that was popularized in the 1980's and 1990's. The drug was criminalized in 1985 when government placed the drug on the list of prohibited substances along with heroin and LSD. Though the drug is considered an illegal "street drug," government regulators have also licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research. One of the research teams has used MDMA to treat patients of PTSD.

For combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, symptoms of PTSD can often be unbearable. PTSD, also known as "shell shock" can cause mood swings, violence, rage, headaches, and a host of other physical and psychological issues. Many sufferers are unable to work because of these severe symptoms, entitling them to Social Security benefits.

According to a new report, veterans who have not responded to traditional prescriptions or therapies may see their condition or symptoms improve after the regulated use of MDMA. A husband and wife research team in South Carolina has used the drug as an alternative treatments to cure veterans who suffer from severe PTSD. The treatment combines psychotherapy with the use of MDMA. According to research 15 of 21 patients who suffered from severe PTSD suffer minor to virtually no symptoms today.

Many researchers and sufferers of PTSD are hopeful, given the scarcity of effective treatments for PTSD. This is the first long-term study to suggest the benefits of hallucinogens and other recreational drugs. According to doctors and researchers, the evidence is convincing. Those who have had the therapy found that the MDMA allowed them to feel and talk about trauma, without being overwhelmed.

Source: New York Times, "A 'Party Drug' May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma," Nov. 19, 2012

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