Marijuana has been widely reported to have positive medical benefits for people suffering from a number of conditions. However, it still remains illegal under federal law, and state laws vary significantly.
Recently, researchers are looking at the effect of even more powerful illegal drugs (or at least the ingredients in them) on serious psychological conditions. For example, cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety have reported in clinical trials that psilocybin, which is found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, has provided them with relief from their symptoms.
Now researchers are looking at the effect of MDMA, the active ingredient found in the drug ecstasy, in treating post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Some 7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD as the result of a violent or traumatic experience.
In clinical trials, patients who hadn't responded to other medications reported an improvement in their symptoms after taking MDMA. Researchers say that the positive hormones released by the drug in the brain help PTSD sufferers have the clarity they need to deal with the source of their trauma.
As one psychiatric nurse put it, "The medicine allows them to look at things from a different place and reclassify them." She adds, "Each person has an innate ability to heal. We just create the right conditions."
Obviously, if the drug is approved for treating PTSD, it would need to be administered in a controlled environment and under the supervision of a psychiatrist. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved the use of the drug in a more advanced clinical trial, so the possibility of it becoming an approved treatment for PTSD is real.
With any drug that provides relief from physical and/or psychological pain, of course, there is the possibility of abuse. We've seen that throughout the country with the opioid epidemic and people turning to illegal non-prescription drugs when they can no longer get their prescribed medication.
As we've seen with the slow pace of marijuana legalization throughout the country, it takes the law some time to catch up with science. Therefore, those who use illegal drugs, even in controlled settings for medical purposes, need to be aware of the legal ramifications of possessing them or being under the influence outside of those settings.
Source: Teen Vogue, "Scientists Say MDMA Could Be Used to Treat PTSD Symptoms," Brittney McNamara, Dec. 06, 2016