Summary: Dmytro Gurin, a Ukrainian MP, has proposed that Ukraine become a leading research center for psychedelic-assisted therapies to treat the soaring rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among its population affected by Russia’s invasion. With an estimated 3 to 4 million Ukrainians currently living with PTSD, and up to 57 percent of the population at risk, Gurin is seeking EU support to develop nationwide clinical trials for MDMA-assisted therapy.
How could MDMA transform the treatment of PTSD in war-torn regions like Ukraine?
The ongoing war in Ukraine has led to a mental health crisis, with millions suffering from PTSD. In response, Ukrainian MP Dmytro Gurin, a member of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party and the health committee, has called on the EU to assist Ukraine in becoming a hub for research on psychedelic-assisted therapies. Gurin’s proposal focuses on using MDMA, the chemical found in ecstasy, as a potential treatment for PTSD.
Gurin suggests that Ukraine’s large population of trauma sufferers makes it an ideal location for researching MDMA-assisted therapies. He advocates for EU financial support to conduct a nationwide clinical trial, testing MDMA-assisted therapy as a primary treatment for trauma, rather than as a last resort. This approach is driven by the sheer number of patients needing treatment.
The meeting, hosted by MEPs Tomáš Zdechovský and Radka Maxová from the MEPs action group for the medical use of psychedelics, discussed how MDMA has shown promise in helping PTSD patients in clinical trials. Australia has already authorized its use, and the U.S. and EU are considering similar steps.
Implementing such a trial in Ukraine would not require a change in law but a decree from the Cabinet of ministers. There is already agreement between ministries on various aspects, from production to consumption of psychedelics for research purposes.
However, challenges remain, including a shortage of trained therapists. Gurin proposes establishing a training center in Uzhhorod, near the Slovakian border, to train Ukrainian therapists specifically for war-related trauma cases.
Political opposition to classified drugs for treating health conditions is another hurdle. The Ukrainian parliament is currently debating a medical cannabis bill, facing pushback from opposition parties. Despite this, the health committee recently recommended the bill for a second reading.
President Zelenskyy has expressed the need for the best and newest technologies to deal with trauma, indicating potential support for psychedelic-assisted therapies. These therapies represent the first new drugs in years showing promise for severe mental health conditions.
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