Pattaya Daily News

06 May 2008 :: 15:05:24 pm 29953

New Research Says Yah E Is The Answer To Ptsd And Other Deep-Rooted Traumas.

An Ecstasy tablet, drug of choice for clubbers worldwide, is apparently the answer to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so reports Britain?s Sunday Times Newspaper. Ecstasy, known as the love drug because its effects are to make its takers ultra-friendly to one and all, is now being cautiously hailed as the key to treating previously untreatable deep-rooted traumas. "MDMA has this effect of lowering fear and defences", so says Dr. Mithoefer, a psychiatrist and researcher from South Carolina, USA, who is successfully treating traumatised patients using Ecstacy.
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PTSD-specific psychotherapy has always held dear the concept that the patient must remount the horse, after falling off, so to speak, to return to the scene of the crash, the battlefield, the moment of rape ? and relive it before they can move on and begin to heal. But sometimes this is not the answer, reliving the traumatic events can be as bad if not worse than the original experience. This especially so as at moments of accidents etc, one is rarely fully aware of what is happening, almost as if consciousness is suspended. However, when one revisits the dreadful moment, one is usually slightly more conscious and the sub-conscious memory erects a barrier through which it is virtually impossible to break. This is why Ecstasy can prove a far more effective form of treatment as the patient is relaxed and more able to cope, dispassionately.

Here are extracts from The Sunday Times:

In 1993, Donna was brutally raped. She was a single parent living in a small town in Alaska, working as a dental nurse for the Air Force. She was due to work an early shift the next day and her two-year-old daughter was staying with a friend for the night. She was alone at home. At midnight she opened the door to a stranger who said he was looking for his dog. He asked if her husband was at home, and a second’s hesitation was enough. He burst in, backing her up against the fireplace in the living room. Donna picked up a poker to defend herself. He said: “If you co-operate, I won’t kill you. I’ve got a gun.” And he reached into his jacket.

“I dropped the poker and that was it,” she says. “I thought, this is how I’m going to die. No life flashed before my eyes, I didn’t think about my daughter. Just death. I left my body and I stayed that way. The next thing I remember, the cops were coming through the door with a dog.”

Unknowingly, Donna, now 39, had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And she would become the first subject in a pioneering American research programme to test the effects of MDMA ? otherwise known as the dance-floor drug Ecstasy ? on PTSD sufferers.

Some doctors believe MDMA could be the key to solving previously untreatable deep-rooted traumas. After hysterics, the Home Office estimates that 11,000 clubbers take Ecstasy every weekend. Could MDMA ? the illegal class-A rave drug, found in the system of Leah Betts when she died in 1995, and over 200 others since ? really help? MDMA was patented in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck. In the 1920s MDMA was used in studies on blood glucose as a substitute for adrenaline. As use became widespread, the US authorities panicked, and by 1985 MDMA was an illegal, schedule-1 drug. UK laws were even tighter: MDMA, illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, was categorised class A in 1977, carrying a sentence of up to seven years for possession.

Criminalisation put paid to MDMA research almost overnight, at least until Mithoefer’s current programme began. The MDMA used in the studies ? the drug Dr Mithoefer gave Donna and other patients ? was the pure chemical compound, not the black-market Ecstasy bought by recreational users. “A lot of Ecstasy pills aren’t MDMA at all,” says Steve Rolles of the drug-policy reform group Transform. The images of Leah Betts and Lorna Spinks lying in hospital on life-support, bloodied and bloated, are familiar to all of us ? we know drugs cost lives. That question is the reason that Donna agreed to speak to The Sunday Times about her MDMA treatment. In 1993, after Donna was brutally raped she said “people avoided me, they looked at me funny.” Donna had never taken Ecstasy before. For the first time Donna faced her fears. Down there was guilt, anger, shame, fear. Encouraged by the Mithoefers, Donna expressed her overwhelming love for her family, how she felt protected by their support and grateful for their love.

MDMA is well known for inducing these compassionate, “loved-up” feelings. For Donna, the experience was life-changing. “I felt I could live instead of exist,” she is reported as saying.

What makes MDMA so useful, Mithoefer believes, is the trust it establishes. “Many people with PTSD have a great deal of trouble trusting anybody, especially if they’ve been betrayed by someone who abused their trust, like a parent or a caregiver,” he says. “MDMA has this effect of lowering fear and defences. First, they must be diagnosed with PTSD. The patient lies on the futon in the Mithoefers’ living-room-style office in Charleston, South Carolina. Mithoefer sits opposite, taking notes. Each patient is given a recording of their session afterwards.

The patient takes either a 125mg tablet of MDMA or a placebo pill, followed by a 62.5mg dose about two hours into the therapy session. The study is double-blind, so only the emergency nurse who carries the drugs from the safe to the office knows whether the patient is getting the drug. The patient can’t ? some people thought they got MDMA when they didn’t,” says Mithoefer. There’s a real difference between placebo patients and patients who got MDMA, in terms of their ability to relive the trauma.”

Michael and Annie Mithoefer “aren’t your typical kind of therapists”, says Donna. “I don’t think I’ve ever met two people who cared so much about people getting well. At the time the Mithoefers treated Donna, in March 2004, their study had been a long time in the pipeline. Convinced of MDMA’s potential, Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Maps), had been in and out of the courts seeking permission from the Food & Drug Administration for clinical research since 1984. Maps, a group set up to fund psychedelic research, agreed to fund Mithoefer’s study in 2000. “It was incredibly frustrating,” Mithoefer says.

Mithoefer’s study, which looks set to cost $1m by the time it finishes in four years’ time, is scrupulously monitored. Doblin had 1,000g of MDMA made specially, each gram costing $4. Mithoefer had to obtain a licence from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which keeps track of exactly how much MDMA each licence-holder has, and periodically checks the stocks for purity. Then, all being well, Mithoefer hopes to see MDMA therapy available on prescription, administered in controlled surroundings, in 5 to 10 years.

Dr Ben Sessa of Bristol University’s Psychopharmacology Unit has been writing papers on MDMA therapy for two years. Very few people are interested in recreational drugs.”

I ask Donna the same question. “Would I take the drug again? The harmful effects of MDMA are still under investigation. In 2006 Dr Maartje de Win of the University of Amsterdam published research showing that Ecstasy could cause depression, anxiety and long-term memory damage after one small dose. Sessa is adamant that research into MDMA is justified. It’s a class-A drug that’s dangerous when used recreationally, but it’s used widely in medicine, and so it should be ? it’s a very useful drug. MDMA has been demonised.

“The minister for drugs policy, Vernon Coaker, declined to comment on reclassification for medical purposes, but a spokesman said: “The government has no intention of reclassifying Ecstasy. We firmly believe it should remain a class-A drug. In addition, the government warns young people of the dangers of Ecstasy through the Frank campaign.”

So you have harm-reduction information within a legal framework that maximises harm. MDMA therapy is based on the idea of a single treatment, or a course of treatment sessions, rather than long-term prescriptive use. This presents little or no benefit to drug companies that have huge budgets for research as long as there’s a saleable product at the end. And if MDMA does prove effective, companies could stand to lose millions from lost sales of long-term antidepressants prescribed for PTSD.

Psychotherapy is notoriously underfunded and discredited by the drug companies. So who’s going to pay for a multi-centre psychotherapy trial for 10,000 people ? the couch-makers?”

Reporter : PDN staff   Category : World News

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