by James Jeffrey
Wednesday, 17
November 2021
Debate
17:00

It’s high time the Government takes psychedelics seriously

As a veteran recovering from PTSD, it has helped me immeasurably
by James Jeffrey

As I wrestled with the fallouts of my military tours in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, ranging from sleepless nights to a runaway temper, there was one thing that unexpectedly provided me with additional help to get through it: LSD.

A friend who left the army before me and experienced similar symptoms recommended micro-dosing once every six months “just to take the edge off.” Most recently, and after a testing period during lockdowns, I went for the LSD option on a balmy Spanish night in Seville. I felt truly joyous as my pain washed away.

The LSD I had taken was discovered on this day in 1938 in the laboratory of Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who was the first person to synthesise, ingest and discover the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide. Hofmann said LSD “gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation.”

Research into the therapeutic potential of drugs such as LSD and MDMA collapsed in the early 1970s when the drugs were made illegal worldwide. Negative stereotypes about psychedelics have persisted ever since, but in recent years they have been undergoing a reassessment.

A new US study demonstrates that MDMA can bring relief to those suffering from severe PTSD when combined with traditional talk therapy. “Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, MDMA does not act as a band-aid that tries to blunt symptoms of PTSD,” the New York Times reported. Rather, when combined with therapy, the drug “seems to allow the brain to process painful memories and heal itself.”

The study notes that MDMA does not automatically produce beneficial results when taken without therapy, which I can attest to. My earlier mind-altering trips were fun and appeared to help in the short term. But they ultimately failed to ameliorate my PTSD.

I recently underwent counselling for the first time through the Op Courage service provided for British veterans by the NHS. It was during this period, and in between counselling sessions, I had my night in Seville — not, I must emphasise, with any prompting from or knowledge on the part of my counsellor.

I found this combination beneficial in ways that my purely recreational use wasn’t. Continued scientific inquiry in this area could yield further promising results to help alleviate the mental trauma that is fomenting thanks to the pandemic and the negative consequences of lockdowns.

“Be careful, you’re about to discover everything they told you is a lie,” a friend told me the very first time a put the tiny piece of paper under my tongue. What might have proven the biggest lie of all was any need to ‘protect’ the public against this brilliant invention.

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