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    Psychedelics help special operations veterans’ mental and cognitive health



    Psychedelics help special operations

    Source: Ohio State University

    Summary: In a sample of U.S. special operations forces veterans who sought treatment at a clinic in Mexico, one treatment each of two psychedelic drugs decreased depression and anxiety and enhanced cognitive functioning, according to a new analysis. Ibogaine hydrochloride, derived from the West African shrub iboga, and hallucinogenic substance secreted by the Colorado River toad were used.

    Ibogaine hydrochloride, derived from the West African shrub iboga, and 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelics compound secreted by the Colorado River toad. Under the Controlled Substances Act of the United States, both are classified as Schedule I drugs.

    The combined treatment not only reduced PTSD symptoms but also cognitive impairment brought on by traumatic brain injury. More conventional therapies are ineffective for treating the complex psychiatric symptoms of many veterans of special operations forces.

    “What sets this group apart from some other veterans and civilians is that often, they are exposed to repeated traumatic events as a routine part of their jobs. This build-up of exposure to these difficulties seems to produce a cluster of challenges that include traumatic brain injury, which we know in and of itself predisposes people to mental health problems,” said lead author Alan Davis, associate professor and director of the Centre for Psychedelics Drug Research and Education (CPDRE) in Ohio State’s College of Social Work.

    “So the fact that we saw that there were improvements in cognitive functioning linked to brain injury were probably the most striking results, because that’s something we didn’t predict and it’s very new and novel in terms of how psychedelics might help in so many different domains.”

    In the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the study is published. After 9/11, the majority of the veterans participating in the clinic retreat program were on active duty, and they said they were seeking treatment for memory loss, brain damage, depression, anxiety, PTSD, sleep issues, anger, and fatigue. 86% of participants said they had experienced head trauma in the past, and the majority of them blamed it for their current memory issues, irritability, disordered sleeping patterns, and ringing in the ears.

    86 veterans responded to pretreatment questionnaires about various mental health symptoms, life satisfaction, level of anger, and suicidality. Ibogaine hydrochloride was administered orally once, and five incremental doses of 5-MeO-DMT totaling 50 milligrams were given to each participant. Each treatment was preceded by and followed by preparation and reflection sessions.

    Overall, participants reported large improvements in self-reported PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and anger, as well as a significant increase in satisfaction with life, from pre-treatment to the one-month follow-up, and sustained benefits at the three- and six-month follow-ups. Additional reported improvements that continued for six months included reductions in disability and post-concussive symptoms, and very large increases in psychological flexibility and cognitive functioning.

    More research is needed, according to Davis, to determine whether better thinking is caused by fewer mental health symptoms, biological changes to brain signaling, or a combination of both types of effects. And they noted that changes to psychological flexibility one’s capacity to act in ways that are consistent with their values regardless of whatever internal or external experience they might have have been found in previous research to be connected to insightful and mystical psychedelic experiences.

    I think we’re seeing a similar picture emerging here where the more one is psychologically flexible, the more likely it is that one’s mental health symptoms will be reduced or ameliorated,” Davis said.

    The majority of participants also reported mild to significant positive changes in a variety of attitudes, behaviors, and relationships. One month after finishing therapy, nearly half said their psychedelics experience was the most profoundly spiritual (48.6%) or psychologically illuminating (42.9%) of their lives, and 17.1% said it was the most trying or challenging.

    Source: Ohio State University

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