HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Texas legislature approved two bills aimed to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One bill, authored by State Representative Alex Dominguez of Brownsville, creates a study into non-traditional treatments for combat veterans.
The study will test the effectiveness of psilocybin or magic mushrooms, MDMA, and ketamine as alternatives to traditional medications given for PTSD.
The study is hoping to prove that those drugs are safe and effective to use and that they are more successful than traditional antidepressants and antianxiety medication, which tend to have side effects.
“For the past 20 years, we’ve lost over 115,000 veterans to PTSD-related suicide in the United States,” Dominguez said. “We lose about 20 veterans every day to suicide.”
Currently, doctors prescribe psychotropic drugs like antidepressants and antianxiety medications to veterans experiencing PTSD.
Those drugs alter the moods of people taking them, but they can have negative side effects and the drugs don’t always make people feel normal. “The levels that they need to be prescribed, for some of these veterans, it leaves them in a state of almost being a zombie,” Dominguez said.
There are already veteran groups and non-profits that are working to treat people experiencing PTSD with alternative medicines.
Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions, or VETS, was founded by 13-year Navy Seal veteran Marcus Capone and his wife, Amber, the executive director of VETS, after Marcus retired from the military and was experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
Capone said that PTSD is common in military members, especially in special forces troops like him.
He said being in a chaotic environment filled with combat, away from family for months contributes to the mental strain military members are under.
“It’s a long time to be out of – if you want to call it the real world – so, when you come back to this place, you’re just not the same. You’re not the same,” Capone said.
VETS started after Marcus and Amber said they felt they “were out of options”. The couple said that the treatments were effective very quickly, and they had to tell others.
They officially started their non-profit in 2019 but have “raised funding for over 400 veterans, primarily special operators,” to get psychedelic-assisted therapy abroad since 2017.
The difference in veterans who receive the treatment is night and day compared to how they were before.
“They have a new purpose, they’re connected with their families again, they feel good about living. It’s a remarkable turnaround in such a short amount of time,” he said.
Amber said psychedelic-assisted therapy was a miracle for their family, and she’s hopeful that the study pushed for by Rep. Dominguez and former Governor Rick Perry will allow other veterans experiencing PTSD to get access to the treatment on their own home state.
“Bravo to Texas, and I hope a bunch of other states follow because it is absolutely, desperately needed,” she said.
Dominguez said expects the trial to be successful, and wants to expand it during the next legislative session in January 2023.