War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could benefit from better treatment through MDMA-assisted therapy, scientists have claimed.
The illegal drug would allow current and former service personnel to talk about traumatic events by reducing their fear response and allowing them to reprocess their experiences.
Academics stalling progress
Talking to ABC News, Dr Stephen Bright from Edith Cowan University said MDMA could be key to unlocking new treatments for people with PTSD, but the process is being stifled by “academic conservatism”.
Current treatments can involve an individual being exposed to their harrowing experiences repeatedly over multiple weeks, but MDMA psychotherapy would involve 12 sessions and the patient would receive the drug just three times.
“Here we have treatment that has a tremendous amount of evidence that is supporting it, yet the universities are not willing to engage in it for fear of the potential consequences, such as poor media,” Dr Bright stated.
He argued that giving patients MDMA in this context isn’t about recreational use, it’s for treating a serious illness. Previous studies of the drug overseas have already shown MDMA psychotherapy is an effective treatment for patients.
Helping veterans with mental health problems
The federal government recently announced $350 million of funding for veterans’ mental health services in the latest Budget, with a proportion of the money set aside for PTSD and conditions such as anxiety and depression.
According to the Australian Army, less than 2 per cent of soldiers in the country that have seen active deployment suffer from PTSD, but the organisation noted that as many as 10 per cent of US service personnel struggle with the condition.
Aaron Gray, who lives on the south coast of NSW, was a member of the Australian Army 10 years ago and served as part of Combat Team Eagle in Iraq.
He told ABC News that his squad was ambushed and fought in an 18-hour battle, the memories of which continue to haunt him over a decade later.
Even seemingly minor events, like seeing a chemical container on the side of the road, can trigger flashbacks. Mr Gray said he would like to see MDMA trialled as a treatment for PTSD in Australia.
Making a TPD claim
PTSD is considered a total and permanent disability (TPD), which means veterans may be eligible for benefits if they are unable to return to the workplace after developing the illness.
However, mental health conditions are among the most complex TPD claims to pursue, as the symptoms are often intermittent and fluctuate in severity.
This is why it’s crucial to contact an experienced lawyer to help you with your case. For more information, please contact a member of our team.