Local marine finds healing from PTSD using controversial, psychedelic therapy
By Chad Darnall
PADUCAH, Ky. -
Twenty-two veterans a day are committing suicide according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It's a tragic reality for many men and women returning from war. A local marine said he was on his way to becoming a statistic.
Nicholas Blackston completed two tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was hurt during combat. When he came home, he immediately recognized the memories of war were still with him.
He said he felt hopeless until he found a clinical study using the psychedelic drug MDMA during therapy. It's also known as ecstasy. He said it saved his life, and he's sharing his story to help other people find healing from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Blackston said, "Honestly it was, looking back on it, the best decision of my life... but it was one of the most trying times of my life." He said felt called to join The U.S. Marines after high school. After war, he came home to Paducah and found himself in another fight against PTSD." I was always hyper-vigilant, I was always on alert wondering when the next attack is going to be. The mind couldn't register you're back home. You're safe."
He said traditional therapy and pharmaceutical drugs didn't work. "Those things just kind of, those pills just treated the symptoms not the cause. I basically had treatment-resistant PTSD."
Blackston's story is a part of the book, Acid Test. The chapters about him detail desperation until he found a small, clinical study treating combat veterans with PTSD using a psychedelic drug. He said, "The MDMA removes the blockage of fear of wanting to deal with these issues. For me, I was able to realize this is the past."
It's a controversial treatment Blackston said saved his life. "I feel like I finally have my head together." Now, he's working to make it available for more people who may be losing their fight against PTSD. "While I might feel better, that's the thing that I still struggle with. I just want my brothers and sisters to get the healing that I got."
Blackston started the clinical trial with a PTSD rating in the high 70s. After six months of therapy and six sessions with MDMA, his rating fell to a six.
Acid Test combines his story with two other to combat the stigma of using drugs like LSD or ecstasy for medicinal purposes. The study Blackston participated in was FDA approved. They, along with an organization called MAPS, hope to expand the study now and get more data in hopes the FDA will make this therapy legal by 2021.