We have all heard of the ‘War on Drugs’. A phrase coined by Richard Nixon in 1971, it illustrates the period’s all-consuming fear of these substances, which still persists today. This was especially damning for psychedelics, which were beginning to show great promise as a medical tool. Today, however, studies into their therapeutic uses have started again after a long hiatus. It seems that this ‘war’ stopped many groups of people who would greatly benefit from psychedelic treatment from accessing it. The irony is, many of these people are soldiers. But how can shrooms help soldiers fight PTSD?
Flashbacks, Nightmares & Grief
Of the millions who have seen active military service, 17% report the symptoms of PTSD including flashbacks, nightmares, grief, depression, anxiety and anger. For many, traditional pharmaceuticals don’t work, and they are shunted from medication to medication without relief.
Could Psychedelics Be The Answer?
However, as we have explored in Microdosing for PTSD, psychedelics could be the answer for those suffering from the disorder. Often, conventional medication does not help. Due to this, whether microdosed or taken in larger doses during a therapeutic session, soldiers and veterans have been taking matters into their own hands. Through self-medicating with psychedelics, many have found relief from the symptoms of PTSD.
A Soldier Self-Medicates
Gus Murray, is a British infantryman who served in Afghanistan. During his tour he saw his best friend and many colleagues killed in action. As a result, he was diagnosed with PTSD in 2017. In an interview with The Guardian he explains his use of psychedelics to combat his condition. Murray began his journey into psychedelics after watching a TED talk about the use of psilocybin to treat depression. He decided, at his wits end, to try it for himself;
“It allowed me to address things which I was not open to addressing and it has honestly changed my life. I believe I left my PTSD behind in those sessions... no longer destructive or closed off. I have my life back.”
Studies Reflect Experience
Murray’s experience is backed up by studies, such as one carried out by the Medical University of South Carolina. In a clinical trial, it was found that PTSD sufferers who used magic mushrooms in tandem with therapy showed greater improvement than those who did not.
Additionally, Professor David Nutt, a member of Drug Science states;
“It could be that these substances can improve the lives of countless people who are suffering with debilitating and life-diminishing mental health conditions.”
Laws Present Obstacles
In certain American states such as Denver, psilocybin is decriminalised. However, in the UK where servicemen such as Gus Murray seek psychedelics to self-medicate, they are classed as a Schedule 1 Drug. This means that it is very expensive and difficult to obtain a license from the Home Office to use them for trials and tests. Additionally, scientists conducting the studies can face prison if the drugs end up in the wrong hands.
But, The Future Is Hopeful
Hopefully, however, stories from ex service people and other PTSD sufferers can begin to turn the tide. For many, psychedelics could be the answer they have been searching for to deal with such a debilitating condition.