In a groundbreaking move, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching new studies on using psychedelic compounds to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among military veterans. This marks a significant shift for the VA, representing the first such research since the 1960s, reported Military Times.
This new VA-backed effort will delve deeper into “the effectiveness and safety of using MDMA and psilocybin-augmented psychotherapy in veterans,” as the VA release outlined.
However, VA officials acknowledge that existing research has largely excluded veterans, now compelling this decision to dedicate research into how these alternative treatments may benefit them.
“Veterans and VA researchers have long told us about the potential promise of psychedelics,” stated VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal in a press release. “Now is our chance to rigorously study this potential method of treating veterans with PTSD and major depression across the country.”
While the department remains tight-lipped about the exact timelines for the studies and the potential for wider psychedelic use in veterans’ mental health care, Friday’s announcement marks the beginning of a call for proposals from researchers and academic institutions within the VA network.
Not Completely Uncharted Territory For VA Researchers
The VA has conducted limited studies on psychedelics in federal facilities, though without VA funding.
In September, more than 75 VA and other federal clinicians, scientists and policymakers gathered in Denver to assess the state of existing scientific evidence regarding psychedelic-assisted therapies. From this gathering came a recommendation for the VA to begin funding its own studies into these compounds.
This initiative marks a turning point for the VA and its commitment to exploring innovative approaches to improve the mental health of veterans, noted the department.
The hope is that with the increasing body of research and support from both the VA and legislators, psychedelics may soon become a valuable tool in the arsenal of veteran care.