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MDMA for war PTSD and conflict resolution 

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PTSD can be a chronic and devastating mental illness with a severe impact on the quality of life. It can be caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event like war, physical and sexual assault, torture, accidents, and other kinds of stressful experiences. 

Some of the symptoms are re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares; severe anguish, and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma; difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.

These symptoms can affect the daily routine of the sufferers and make that even the most common activity becomes a real challenge for them. 


Only in Iraq and Afghanistan war context, one out of seven US soldiers returning home suffers PTSD. That means a great number of people struggling with strong symptoms and needing help. 


MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine is an empathogenic drug, which has been very commonly used in the therapeutic context since the last century. However, it has also been used in a recreational context, confusing it with "Ecstasy" sold illegally on the streets.  It is really important to highlight that they are not the same. Substances sold under the name of Ecstasy often contain a really low percentage of MDMA or don't contain it at all. It also may contain harmful adulterers.  

Some studies show that MDMA can decrease fear and defensiveness while increasing trust and empathy, allowing patients to discuss their memories more openly and easily. This is one of the main reasons why it has been proposed to use MDMA as a tool in psychotherapy sessions. 

Studies developed by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in the past years have demonstrated that MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy can help patients overcome PTSD. As proof of its efficiency shown in the studies' results, the FDA has designated MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD a Breakthrough Therapy, and  MAPS' efforts and resources are focused on making MDMA into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. 


We are convinced of the great potential of this substance and the benefit that it may have on the Colombian society, especially to the armed conflict's victims. So we decided to join this initiative. 

We think that an investigation like this one and the following MDMA as a prescription medicine approval can have a very positive impact in Colombian society, taking into account the post-conflict period that we are currently going through. That's why, at the ONCA Foundation, we are working on replicating this clinical study in Colombia, collecting a  sample of the armed conflict victims and assessing the potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD.  At the same time, we are interested in conducting a qualitative investigation with the same sample, to assess the impact and scope of the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on the conflict resolution dynamics of the participants and their environment.

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