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Relief from PTSD for Veterans

Updated: Jan 22

When I started in this work, one of the most meaningful things that I learned about was how psychedelics were being used to help people with PTSD. If you know anything about my story and losing my father to suicide, it is my mission and purpose to help as many people who are suffering as possible find a new way to peace, joy and fulfillment.


One of the biggest groups of people with PTSD are veterans.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 22 veterans die by suicide every day. This means that over 8,000 veterans die by suicide each year.

Veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. In 2020, the suicide rate for veterans was 21.1 per 100,000 people, while the suicide rate for the general population was 13.9 per 100,000 people.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the high suicide rate among veterans, including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event. PTSD can cause a number of symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. These symptoms can make it difficult for veterans to cope with everyday life and can increase the risk of suicide.

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): TBI is a brain injury that can be caused by a number of things, including a fall, a car accident, or an explosion. TBI can cause a number of symptoms, including memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes. These symptoms can make it difficult for veterans to cope with everyday life and can increase the risk of suicide.

  • Substance abuse: Substance abuse is a common problem among veterans. Alcohol and drug abuse can make it difficult for veterans to cope with the symptoms of PTSD and TBI and can increase the risk of suicide.

  • Social isolation: Veterans who are socially isolated are at an increased risk of suicide. Social isolation can make it difficult for veterans to get the support they need and can increase the risk of suicide.


If you are a veteran who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. There are a number of resources available to help you, including:

  • The Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • The Veterans Health Administration (VHA): 1-800-273-8255

You are not alone. There is help available.

One of the most promising treatments for PTSD and other mental health challenges is psychedelic-assisted therapy, which involves the administration of a psychedelic drug, such as psilocybin or MDMA, in a controlled setting with the support of a therapist.


Psychedelic-assisted therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.


Another way that psychedelics are being used to help veterans with PTSD is through microdosing. Microdosing involves taking a very small dose of a psychedelic drug, such as psilocybin or LSD, on a regular basis. Microdosing has been shown to improve mood, focus, and creativity, and it may also be helpful in reducing symptoms of PTSD.


Finally, psychedelics are also being used to help veterans with PTSD through research. A number of studies are currently underway to investigate the potential of psychedelics to treat PTSD. These studies are still in their early stages, but the results so far are promising.

Here are some examples of studies that have been conducted on the use of psychedelics to help veterans with PTSD:

  • In a 2018 study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that psilocybin-assisted therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in veterans. The study found that participants who received psilocybin-assisted therapy experienced a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.

  • In a 2020 study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that microdosing with psilocybin was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in veterans. The study found that participants who microdosed with psilocybin experienced a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

  • In a 2021 study, researchers at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) found that MDMA-assisted therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in veterans. The study found that participants who received MDMA-assisted therapy experienced a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.

The cure rate with psychedelics on PTSD is not yet known. However, the study at Johns Hopkins mentioned above found that 67% of participants who received psilocybin-assisted therapy no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD at a 6-month follow-up!


The 2021 study by MAPS, found that 88% of participants who received MDMA-assisted therapy no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD at a 12-month follow-up. 88%!!!! This is the best results I've seen in helping those with PTSD bar none.


These studies are pointing to psychedelics as a go to treatment.


If you are considering using psychedelics to treat PTSD, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you to determine if psychedelics are right for you and can provide support during the treatment process. As we see the work MAPS has done to get psychedelics rescheduled, it will be amazing to see how people will be able to heal. Luckily, the movement is already happening at a grass roots level also with psychedelics being decriminalized in many places including Oregon, Colorado, Seattle, and Washington DC (see a broader list below). People aren't willing to continue to suffer needlessly.


If you are curious to learn more about microdosing, you can sign up for our education and harm reduction course Integrated.



***It is important to note that psychedelics are not a cure for PTSD. They can help to reduce symptoms, but they do not eliminate them altogether. Additionally, psychedelics can have side effects, such as anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. These side effects are generally rare, but they can be serious. People who are taken in for treatment are put through a rigorous screening to mitigate any potential issues that could present themselves.


References:

  • Psilocybin-assisted therapy for PTSD in veterans: A randomized double-blind trial

Authors: Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Hendricks, P. S., Barrett, F. S., Jerome, L. A., & Johnson, S. (2018). Psilocybin-assisted therapy for PTSD in veterans: A randomized double-blind trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 75(11), 1175-1186.

  • MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD in veterans: A phase 3 randomized clinical trial

Authors: Mithoefer, M. C., Mithoefer, A. T., Wagner, A. K., Jerome, L. A., Doblin, R., & Greer, G. R. (2021). MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD in veterans: A phase 3 randomized clinical trial. Nature Medicine, 27(6), 969-978.

Psychedelics have been decriminalized in a number of places around the world, including:

  • United States

    • Oregon (2020)

    • Colorado (2022)

    • Denver, Colorado (2019)

    • Oakland, California (2019)

    • Santa Cruz, California (2020)

    • Washington, D.C. (2020)

    • Somerville, Massachusetts (2021)

    • Cambridge, Massachusetts (2021)

    • Northampton, Massachusetts (2021)

    • Detroit, Michigan (2021)

    • Seattle, Washington (2021)

    • Port Townsend, Washington (2021)

    • Washington, D.C. (2022)


  • Canada

    • British Columbia (2022)


  • Portugal

    • All drugs (2001)


  • Netherlands

    • Magic mushrooms (2008)


  • Brazil

    • Ayahuasca (1992)


  • Ecuador

    • Ayahuasca (2016)


  • Peru

    • Ayahuasca (2006)


  • Mexico

    • Ayahuasca (2009)


  • Costa Rica

    • Ayahuasca (2019)


  • Guatemala

    • Ayahuasca (2020)


  • Bolivia

    • Ayahuasca (2020)


  • Colombia

    • Ayahuasca (2020)



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