AUSTIN (KXAN) — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have launched the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy. This center is the first of its kind in Texas, according to the university.
The center’s research will begin on veterans with PTSD, adults with prolonged grief disorder or depression and those who have experienced childhood trauma.
“This research will bring further scientific rigor and expertise to study psychedelic therapy,” said center co-lead Charles B. Nemeroff, professor and chair of Dell Med’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, in a news release about the program. “Recent studies have demonstrated considerable promise for these drugs when incorporated with clinical support, and this work has the potential to transform how we treat conditions like depression and PTSD, and to identify synergies between these and other well-established therapies to achieve long-term benefits for those seeking treatment.”
According to UT, Texas has the nation’s second-largest veteran population. Recent state legislation was passed directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to study alternative therapies for PTSD.
This program was made possible possible by HB 1802, which allows for the study of alterative therapies for veterans in Texas. Marcus Capone, a veteran the founder of nonprofit Veterans Exploring Treatments Solutions (VETS), helped pass it.
He himself has undergone psychedelic drug treatment outside of the U.S.
“It’s a reboot of your system,” he said. Capone’s 13-year military career consisted of multiple active combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The UT study wants to find out if low doses of the psychedelic component of mushrooms and MDMA – combined with therapy – can treat severe PTSD and depression.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of our ability to treat mental illness and psychiatric disorders,” said Greg Fonzo, an assistant professor in Dell Med’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-lead of the center. “And I think that’s led to the investigation of psychedelics.”
Eventually, researchers will test the drugs on participants in a controlled setting under therapist supervision.
Capone said that’s similar to what his treatment was like in Mexico.
“The medicine is really powerful, you’re not able to walk around,” he said. “You’re lying in a bed. You have eye shades on. You have noise cancelling headphones on, you’re listening to music.”
He says this doesn’t work for everyone, but he’s hopeful the UT research will help other veterans like him.