Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal, tells the story of Nick, a veteran haunted by PTSD in an interview with The Daily Beast in which he relates why psychedelics are so important to veterans, and the roadblocks researchers face getting it to them:
LSD, an illicit drug with a serious stigma, was once the darling of the psychotherapy world.
Synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, the two decades following its birth were populated with study after study showing positive effects. With its ability to reduce defensiveness, help users relive early experiences, and make unconscious material accessible, it proved tremendously successful in therapy.
In a plethora of studies from the 1950s, researchers found the drug, and other psychedelics in its family, to be successful in treating victims of psychosomatic illnesses ranging from depression to addiction. With fear and hesitation stripped away, psychologists could help their patients dive headfirst into a painful memory, feeling, or thought, and work through it. For some, it sped up a process of awakening that may have taken years. For others, it opened a door that may never have been found otherwise.
But with the widespread recreational use of LSD beginning the 1960s, came both fear from both the general public and the government. After 1970 (when LSD was put on the schedule 1 substance list) it wasn’t technically illegal to do research with psychedelics but rather virtually impossible, given the professional and regulatory hurdles
More than 40 years later, the criminalization of Hofmann’s drug still persists. The means and approval to research the psychedelic on humans is few and far between. The freedom of sufferers who may benefit to access it is all but nonexistent.
Nowhere are the negative effects of psychedelics’ fate more pronounced than in the story of America’s veterans. Of the many illnesses for which the psychedelic-assisted therapy showed promise, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was one of the most profound. An estimated 500,000 Iraq-Afghanistan military veterans are suffering from PTSD, an excruciating illness that is believed to fuel the estimated 20 suicides that result from that demographic per day. In FDA sanctioned studies using MDMA-assisted therapy to treat veterans with PTSD, the success rate has been astounding. Why has no one noticed?…
[continues at The Daily Beast]