Nigel McCourry: MDMA has helped those with PTSD | TheUnion.com

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Nigel McCourry: MDMA has helped those with PTSD

I would like to contribute my thoughts and experiences related to an article that The Union recently ran about a movie being made about the drug MDMA, known by some as Ecstasy or Molly.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. I was deployed to Iraq where I served on the front lines in an infantry unit, and saw combat in some of the most hostile areas of the country. After returning from combat I had symptoms of PTSD that worsened over the years following my transition back to civilian life.

Seven years went by before I sought help for the problems that I had been experiencing. I had hoped that they would go away with time but they did not. I initially went to my local VA hospital seeking help. The treatments I received were not effective in helping to improve the issues I was trying to work out.

The psycho-pharmaceutical medications that I was receiving had side effects that were just as difficult to deal with as having PTSD was at the time.

This is huge, because nothing else out there is showing the same ability to help veterans with PTSD. The need for more effective means of treating PTSD in our veteran population could not be clearer.

When I had begun to feel discouraged that there wasn't anything that could help me improve the symptoms I was experiencing in a significant way, I heard about a recent clinical trial where MDMA was being used with psychotherapy for veterans of war that had PTSD. After reading through the studies' protocol and the theory behind the treatment I felt that the approach was perfectly reasonable and I was willing to give it a try. I called and was able to enroll in the study and participate in the MDMA therapy sessions. I took MDMA in a therapeutic setting a total of five times. This is not the same as the often contaminated drug that is sold on the street.

The treatments were unbelievably effective for me. After only the fist session, sleep problems I had been struggling with since being in combat were almost fully resolved. The benefits of my participation are too numerous to list here. I only wish that this wasn't just a small study limited to 24 individuals and that any veteran who was suffering from severe PTSD could also have access to this treatment.

That is why I think that the movie on MDMA that the recent article covered is so important. This movie is going to inform the public about the huge medicinal benefits of MDMA to the point that people are going to demand that it is offered to veterans suffering from PTSD.

It has now been two and a half years since I completed my participation in the study. Overall, I found MDMA assisted psychotherapy to be a very useful treatment and I am advocating that the same treatment be made available to all other veterans with severe PTSD. I referred another Marine veteran with PTSD to the study after I had completed it; he had a significant improvement after having undergone the MDMA study also. This is huge, because nothing else out there is showing the same ability to help veterans with PTSD. The need for more effective means of treating PTSD in our veteran population could not be clearer.

Please support the effort to allow veterans with PTSD to be treated with MDMA assisted psychotherapy. Thank you.

Nigel McCourry lives in Asheville, North Carolina.