What is Psychedelic Therapy or Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?

Psychedelic therapy, or psychedelic-assisted therapy, uses psychedelic compounds to enhance the effectiveness of therapy for a variety of mental health and neurological conditions. With research accelerating into their legal uses, psychedelic therapy is on track to be the next major breakthrough in mental health care.

With growing acceptance of psychedelic-assisted therapies for a variety of uses, including the FDA’s 2019 approval of ketamine for depression (Johnson & Johnson) and likely 2021 approvals of MDMA for PTSD (MAPS) and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression (Compass), gathering reliable scientific data about the risks and effects of psychedelics on the brain is more vital than ever.

The End of Veteran Suicide Starts Here

In 2020, the results of a retrospective study of ibogaine treatment for trauma-related psychological and cognitive impairment in SOF veterans was published in the peer-reviewed journal Chronic Stress. The research demonstrated significant reductions in suicidal ideation, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD. Conducted by Dr. Alan Davis (Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University), the study was part of the grass roots effort that launched VETS in 2019.

To gather more evidence about ibogaine as a treatment option for PTSD and TBI, VETS is helping sponsor Dr. Nolan Williams’ (Stanford University) observational and neuroimaging study investigating the safety of ibogaine-assisted therapy in veterans with head trauma, combat, or blast exposure. In addition, VETS has partnered with Dr. Alan Davis to conduct a prospective program evaluation observing the therapeutic progress of VETS grant recipients. These projects demonstrate VETS’ core commitment to advancing psychedelic research. More information can be found below regarding ongoing projects.

VETS Endorsed or Affiliated Research:

Stanford University Ibogaine Study Research Image

Stanford University Ibogaine Study

Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS), in collaboration with Stanford University, has supported a pioneering study on the effects of ibogaine therapy for veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Published in Nature Medicine, this first-of-its-kind observational study highlights remarkable improvements in veterans' health, including significant reductions in disability ratings and suicidal ideation. VETS' involvement underscores our commitment to exploring innovative treatments for veterans' mental health.

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Ohio State Program Evaluation Research Image

Ohio State Program Evaluation

Dr. Alan Davis of the Ohio State’s Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education (CPDRE) is leading a program evaluation of VETS grant recipients.

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SOC-F Trifecta of Treatment Research Image

SOC-F Trifecta of Treatment

VETS is providing program support for the Trifecta of Treatment study sponsored by the Special Operations Care Fund (SOC-F).

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External Clinical Trials and Research

Browse a selection of upcoming and ongoing clinical trials investigating psychedelic interventions for Veteran health issues. Additionally, use the National Institutes of Health clinical trial locator to search for key terms such as psychedelic, Veteran, or PTSD.

Psilocybin for the Treatment of Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Ohio State University

The objective of this study is to determine the safety and efficacy of psilocybin assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of Veterans with PTSD.

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Comparison of Two Versus Three Active MDMA-assisted Sessions in U.S. Military Veterans With Chronic PTSD

James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Bronx NY

This study will assess the comparative effectiveness of two versus three active MDMA-assisted therapy sessions in U.S. military veterans with at least moderate chronic PTSD treated at the James J Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.

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Psilocybin-Assisted vs Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy for Alcohol Use Disorder

University of Iowa

This pilot study will collect preliminary data that measures the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy vs ketamine-assisted psychotherapy on patients struggling with alcohol use.

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Psilocybin-facilitated Treatment for Cocaine Use

University of Alabama at Birmingham

The primary purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility and estimate the efficacy of psilocybin-facilitated treatment for cocaine use.

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MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in Veterans With Combat-Related, Refractory PTSD

VA Loma Linda Health Care System, Loma Linda CA

This study will test the feasibility of administering MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy for combat-related treatment-resistant PTSD in US military veterans currently enrolled in VA.

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Transcendental Meditation in Veterans and First Responders With PTSD

United States (Multi-site)

This study will investigate the effectiveness of meditation and therapy as treatments for Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) among Veterans, Active Duty Military Members and First Responders. Participants may receive an intervention for PTS symptoms in the form of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) or Present Centered Therapy (PCT). Neither intervention involves medication or discussing traumatic experiences. Qualifying participants will be compensated up to $1000 for participating.

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A Multi-site Expanded Access Program for MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy for Patients With Treatment-resistant PTSD

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

This is an open-labeled, expanded access protocol for eligible patients with treatment resistant PTSD. This protocol is designed to provide access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to patients who are not eligible for participation in another ongoing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy clinical trial.

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Psilocybin Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder With Co-occurring Alcohol Use Disorder

Johns Hopkins University

The objectives of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study are to test the hypotheses that a single high (25 mg) oral dose of psilocybin will lead to enduring reductions in depressive symptoms and amount of drinking compared to placebo in patients with co-occurring MDD and AUD. 90 male and female volunteers who are between the ages of 21 and 65 years old and who meet criteria for MDD and AUD will be recruited from the community and complete all study procedures. Volunteers will be randomized to one of two study arms (psilocybin or placebo), and will complete a drug administration session paired with a brief Motivational Interviewing intervention for alcohol use. Volunteers will undergo assessments of depression and alcohol use before and after treatment. After primary endpoints are measured, all volunteers will receive a second, unblinded intervention with a single high dose of psilocybin (25 mg) to test a secondary hypothesis that two doses of psilocybin are more effective in treating MDD with co-occurring AUD than a single dose.

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Featured Publications

Cherian, K.N., Keynan, J.N., Anker, L. et al. (05 January 2023): Magnesium–ibogaine therapy in veterans with traumatic brain injuries, Nature Medicine

Alan Kooi Davis, Yitong Xin, Nathan Sepeda & Lynnette A. Averill (28 May 2023): Open-label study of consecutive ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT assisted-therapy for trauma-exposed male Special Operations Forces Veterans: prospective data from a clinical program in Mexico, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Stacey B. Armstrong, Yitong Xin, Nathan D. Sepeda, Martín Polanco, Lynnette A. Averill & Alan K. Davis (01 Feb 2023): Prospective associations of psychedelic treatment for co-occurring alcohol misuse and posttraumatic stress symptoms among United States Special Operations Forces Veterans, Military Psychology

Davis AK, Averill LA, Sepeda ND, Barsuglia JP, Amoroso T. (08 July 2020): Psychedelic Treatment for Trauma-Related Psychological and Cognitive Impairment Among US Special Operations Forces Veterans, Chronic Stress

Afik Faerman, Lauren Anker, Kirsten Cherian, Randi Brown, Nolan Williams (29 May 2023): 0665 Ibogaine treatment in combat Veterans significantly improves sleep, beyond alleviating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, Sleep, Volume 46

Mitchell, J.M., Ot’alora G., M., van der Kolk, B. et al. (14 September 2023): MDMA-assisted therapy for moderate to severe PTSD: a randomized, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial, Nature Medicine

Raison CL, Sanacora G, Woolley J, et al. (31 August 2023): Single-Dose Psilocybin Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial, JAMA

Candice M. Monson, Anne C. Wagner, Ann T. Mithoefer, Rachel E. Liebman, Allison A. Feduccia, Lisa Jerome, Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Amy Emerson, Rick Doblin & Michael C. Mithoefer (07 December 2020): MDMA-facilitated cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an uncontrolled trial, European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Matthew W. Johnson, Peter S. Hendricks, Frederick S. Barrett, Roland R. Griffiths (04 December 2018) Classic psychedelics: An integrative review of epidemiology, therapeutics, mystical experience, and brain network function, Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Armstrong, S. B., Xin, Y., Sepeda, N. D., Polanco, M., Averill, L. A., & Davis, A. K. (2023). Prospective associations of psychedelic treatment for co-occurring alcohol misuse and post-traumatic stress symptoms among United States Special Operations Forces Veterans, Military Psychology

Need Help Now?

We encourage anyone seeking help to contact our partners at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Veterans Crisis Line.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Veterans Crisis Line