A promising new study shows the illicit drug ecstasy or MDMA can dramatically help those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
The New York Times reports phase three clinical trials have been given the green light in a final step for possible approval by the FDA in 2021.
But some veterans are still skeptical the drug will work.
Mike King is a local veteran of the first Iraq war, Desert Storm.
At age 18, King was a Blackhawk helicopter crew chief. Now King suffers from the damaging effects of PTSD.
“Some of them are depression, anxiety, aggression,” King said.
Like many war veterans, King has gone through years of therapy and has used myriad drugs to battle the demons of a war within.
“There are certain triggers I have, and other vets, they have triggers. Something can set it off [like] a loud noise,” King said. “Kind of paranoid, right now, because my back’s against the street.”
Now with his Labradoodle service dog Ramus by his side to help him through his struggles, he’s hopeful but cautious when it comes to ecstasy to treat his mental war wounds.
“If you use it to medicate yourself to try to live a better everyday life, then I would say yes, but it gets abused so easy real fast,” King said.
Depending on the war, roughly 10 to 30 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD, according to Veteran Affairs officials.
Nearly 1 out of every 10 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
Mike Castillo is a veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. And like King, Castillo is also careful not to get too excited.
“As far as being skeptical at the end of the day, it’s MDMA,” Castillo said. “MDMA has been around for a long time, so it’s odd that now we could use it for PTSD on top of it all the known side effects of prolonged use of MDMA.”
Mike King is registered 100 percent disabled, and now he volunteers at the Veterans of Foreign Wars state headquarters in Elk Grove. He believes more than medication, it’s up to each individual to simply focus on their mind to want to get better.
“You have to regulate it,” he said. “You have to be in control of it instead of it controlling you.”