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In the heartland of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, a unique approach is being employed to help military personnel and citizens alike grapple with the psychological aftermath of war. The Ukrainian government is turning to psychedelic therapy, a form of treatment that is still considered unconventional in many parts of the world, to address the trauma experienced by those affected by the ongoing conflict. The Ukrainian military, in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been conducting trials using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug primarily used as a recreational substance. However, under controlled conditions and administered in conjunction with psychotherapy, it has shown promise in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trials are part of a broader global resurgence in interest in psychedelic therapy.

This form of treatment, which fell out of favor during the anti-drug campaigns of the 20th century, is now being revisited as a potential tool in the mental health toolkit. The therapy involves administering small doses of psychedelic substances to patients in a controlled environment, with the aim of facilitating emotional processing and healing. In Ukraine, the need for such innovative approaches to mental health is particularly acute.

The country has been embroiled in conflict since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, leading to an ongoing war in the Donbass region. This has resulted in a significant number of military personnel and civilians suffering from PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. The trials in Ukraine are being conducted under the supervision of trained therapists, who guide the patients through their psychedelic experiences. Preliminary results have been promising, with participants reporting reductions in symptoms of PTSD. However, it’s important to note that these are early days, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of this treatment approach. This initiative by the Ukrainian government and MAPS is a testament to the evolving understanding of mental health and the potential of psychedelic substances in therapeutic settings. As the world watches, the outcomes of these trials could have far-reaching implications for the future of mental health treatment, not just in Ukraine, but globally.

By Molly Cowell

Molly is a freelance writer who lives in Hamburg, Germany.