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MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to begin the final phase in Vancouver

Ed Thompson recalls the impotence felt each of the thousands of times that his twin daughters turned blue and were lifeless in his arms.

Young women suffered from acute spells that contained breathing, an involuntary condition that causes children to faint, in their case up to 40 times a day.

"Making your children die in your arms 7,500 times is bullshit," he said.

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The conditions of the girls finally improved, but the experience aggravated the earlier trauma that Thompson had witnessed as a firefighter in South Carolina, sending him into a spiral of post-traumatic stress, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide.

Everything changed in 2015 after Thompson enrolled in an experimental psychotherapy trial that used clinical grade MDMA, also known as the party drug ecstasy, to treat patients suffering from severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Thompson said the experience saved his life and kept him family together.

Now, researchers from North America, including British Columbia, are preparing for the third and final stage of trials before plans to legalize psychedelic psychotherapy in Canada and the United States by 2021.

Vancouver is one of 16 places in the United States, Canada and Israel where doctors hope to prove that a drug historically associated with gurus and delusions can revolutionize psychotherapy and trauma treatment.

The BC Center on Substance Use will conduct the Vancouver trials as part of a larger research project supervised by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company based in California. There are also conversations for a Montreal installation to participate.

"We hope to prove that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is the most effective treatment for PTSD that exists on the planet," said Mark Haden, professor of public health at the University of British Columbia. Haden founded the Canadian wing of MAPS and helped organize the second stage of the organization's research trials in Vancouver.

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Traditional treatment for PTSD focuses on desensitization, which is painful and can last for years, or even for life, said Haden, and He added that only between 10 and 15 percent of people recover successfully and the dropout rate is high.

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, however, lasts less than four months and preliminary studies "Experimental trials have been so successful, the US Food and Drug Administration, which overseas approves and regulates pharmaceutical drugs, has labeled it as a ". Innovative therapy "for the treatment of PTSD.

Researchers believe that the psychedelic drug's efficacy is due in part to its ability to dispel a participant's fear and boos t what Haden called the therapeutic alliance.

"The alliance between the therapist and the subject is … the greatest predictor of success," Haden said, describing MDMA as an empatogen. "MDMA really, really, really increases the bonds between people."

Therapy consists of three sessions of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy that last eight hours each, as well as 12 therapy sessions without MDMA, which take place in a hospital of three and five-month period.

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Thompson, who participated in the phase two trials, said the drug allowed him to trust his therapists and open up in a way he could not before.

It was not a drug party. , He said, while describing lying on a futon and wearing glasses for most of the experience. "It was not weird, I did not see things, I did not have a miraculous spiritual experience, I did not feel the urge to get up and dance.

" For the first time in years I was able to open up and speak without pain, "he said. The fear, the barriers were removed and I was able to talk to these people. "

Rick Doblin, who founded MAPS in 1986, said that one reason why so little effort has been made to investigate the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics is that the Pharmaceutical companies do not benefit from studying compounds that are already in the public domain and can not be patented.

Phase three will cost $ 26 million and will involve up to 150 study participants. Second stage of the trial are applicable on a larger scale.

Doblin said that the FDA agreed to approve the therapy if stage three of the studies shows that the medication is effective and there are no safety issues. [19659002] Health Canada gave the green light to the last round of trials and discussions are scheduled to begin in February on what the department will need to see to approve the treatment.

Erika Dyck, hi The University of Saskatchewan's medical consultant said that interest in exploring medical treatment resurfaced. The usefulness of traditionally slandered drugs may be related to the ineffectiveness of current treatments and how desperate is society to find therapies that work.

"Think of the ways we accept drugs as part of our health care options now, and maybe even the way drugs dominate our health care options in some areas," Dyck said. "That simply was not the case before, even cancer was treated mainly with surgery."

Canada was actively involved in psychedelic research before the war on drugs, he said, adding that psychiatrist Humphry Osmond of Saskatchewan coined the term "psychedelic" in the mid-1950s, while corresponding with the famous dystopian author Aldous Huxley.

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