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Vancouver begins the final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials

VANCOUVER – Ed Thompson remembers the helplessness he felt each of the thousands of times that his twin daughters went blue and were lifeless in his arms.

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

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

Girls' conditions finally improved, but the experience Composed of a previous trauma, Thompson had witnessed 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 -Memory MDMA, also known as drug party ecstasy, to treat patients suffering from severe cases of stress disorder post-traumatic

Thompson said the experience saved his life and kept his 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 the 16 locations 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.

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

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, however, lasts less than four months and preliminary studies show that two-thirds of participants remained free of post-traumatic stress disorder one year after treatment. He said.

Experimental trials have been so successful, the US Food and Drug Administration. UU., That abroad approves and regulates pharmaceutical drugs, has qualified it as an "innovative therapy" for the treatment of PTSD.

Researchers believe that the psychedelic effectiveness of the drug is due in part to its ability to dispel a participant's fear and to propel 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."

The therapy consists of three psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy sessions lasting eight hours each, as well as 12 sessions of therapy without MDMA, which take place in a hospital of three and five-half-year period.

Thompson, who participated in the Phase Two trials, said the drug allowed her to trust her therapists and open up in a way that she could not before.

"It was not a party drug, there was no party," he said, as he described 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 like getting up and dancing."

"For the first time in years, I was" The fear, the barriers were eliminated and I was able to speak with this people".

Rick Doblin, who founded MAPS in 1986, said one reason why so little effort has been made. Investigating the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics is that pharmaceutical companies can not benefit from the study of 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. Its objective is to demonstrate that the results obtained in the second stage of the trial are applicable on a larger scale.

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

Erika Dyck, a medical historian at the University of Saskatchewan, said there was renewed interest in exploring the medical utility 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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