[Army Spc. Tony] Macie, now 29, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by the Army when he left in 2008 with a medical discharge following back injuries he sustained in Iraq. He was anxious and depressed and had trouble sleeping.
Macie tried to drown those feelings with alcohol and a cocktail of painkillers and antidepressants prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He received disability compensation for PTSD, along with numerous modes of therapy offered by the agency.
Nothing helped. But there was one long shot: MDMA, known more broadly as the illegal party drug Ecstasy.
In late November, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale Phase 3 trial to evaluate the use of MDMA in treatment of PTSD, which is the final step before possible approval as a prescription drug. The second phase of the drug trials, which started in 2000, began to include veterans in 2010.
Like the other veterans involved in the study, Macie was selected because of his chronic-resistance PTSD, which is severe enough that treatments fail to reduce symptoms.