Lynnette A Averill, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
Psychedelic treatment for cognitive impairment, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among US Special Operations Veterans
Introduction: This study examined the effectiveness of ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT treatment for United States (US) Military Special Operations Veterans. We conducted a completely anonymous internet-based survey among those who completed a specific psychedelic clinical program in Mexico between 2017 and 2019. Questions probed mental health and cognitive functioning during the 30-days before and 30-days after the psychedelic treatment.
Methods: A total of 65 people completed treatment during this time frame and were eligible for contact. Of these, 51 (78%) completed the survey and were included in data analyses (Mage=40; male=96%; married=55%; Caucasian/White=92%; OEF/OIF Service=96%). Results Results indicated there were significant and very large reductions in symptoms related to cognitive impairment (p<.001; d=2.8), PTSD (p<.001; d=3.6), depression (p<.001; d=3.7), anxiety (p<.001; d=3.1), and suicidal ideation (p<.001; d=1.9), and a significant and large increase in psychological flexibility (p<.001; d=2.9) from before to after the psychedelic treatment. Increases in psychological flexibility were strongly associated with reductions in cognitive impairment, PTSD, depression, and anxiety (rs range 0.61 – 0.75; p<.001). Additionally, most participants rated the psychedelic experiences as one of the top five or single most personally meaningful (84%), spiritually significant (88%), and psychologically insightful (86%) experiences of their entire lives.
Conclusion: US Special Operations Veterans may have unique treatment needs because of the sequela of problems associated with repeated trauma, including a cluster of symptoms related to PTSD, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and suicidal ideation. Psychedelic-assisted therapy may hold promise as a treatment in this population with a critical need for improved treatments.
Dr. Lynnette Averill is an Assistant Professor and Clinical Research Psychologist at the National Center for PTSD – Clinical Neurosciences Division and Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. She has expertise in translational clinical neuroscience, specifically pharmacoimaging trials evaluating rapid-acting glutamatergic-based drugs (e.g., ketamine) on reductions in suicidal ideation and cognitive function and the neural underpinnings (e.g., synaptic connectivity) of these behavioral changes in stress-related psychopathology. Dr. Alan Davis is an Assistant Professor and Clinical Research Psychologist at The Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Unit with expertise in exploring the acute and persisting effects of psychoactive substances, understanding determinants of problematic patterns of substance use and associated harms, investigating the individual and systemic barriers to addiction treatment retention and successful outcomes, and examining novel psychological and pharmacological interventions. Mr. Timothy Amoroso is a RN and Special Operations Veteran with great interest in psychedelic science and novel psychopharmacology for the treatment of PTSD. He has published multiple papers on this the use of MDMA for PTSD.