Not your stereotypical psychedelic drug user

Rachel Hope's story of undergoing MDMA-assisted therapy to treat PTSD

Most people probably have a particular image of what a self-proclaimed psychedelic drug user looks like. Whatever that may be, Rachel Hope, most likely doesn’t fit that portrait.

A “teetotaler” who didn’t drink alcohol or smoke pot, Hope was part of a small test group given MDMA. 

Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine or MDMA is often mistaken for “molly” or ecstasy. The reality is, with the rise in synthetic drugs being sold as molly, there’s less than a 40 percent chance of finding MDMA in substances sold on the street under those names.

For that reason and several others, Rachel Hope, a mother of four, says she was very apprehensive about taking any sort of drug to treat her PTSD.  After all, she had been prescribed every traditional type of anti-anxiety medication over the last two decades. She had been hospitalized repeatedly, seen at least a dozen therapists, and still her defensive reflexes were on such high alert, she could barely stand to leave her home. So she didn’t. 

Until one day, her assistant threatened to quit if she didn’t try an alternative treatment.

“He handed me a stack of medical studies being done on PTSD,” Hope says. “I read through all of them and it was a whole lot more of the same.”

Rachel Hope in Berlin

Then she stumbled on a small clinical trial being conducted by a Psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Mithoefer, and his wife in South Carolina.

“The protocol was insane,” she says. “The FDA had made it practically impossible for anyone to study MDMA.  The Mithoefers had to jump through so many hoops to get permission.”

Rachel Hope spoke to the Mithoefers, was eventually flown to their office in South Carolina, and then, finally approved for MDMA-assisted therapy almost a year later.

She went through three sessions after being dosed with 125 milligrams of pure MDMA. She also had to undergo extensive pre- and post- therapy sessions. Rachel insists she saw immediate results. 

Dr Michael Mithoefer in his office in Charleston, South Carolina

The Mithoefers agree.

“Whether it’s a cure or a durable remission, that can be argued,” says Dr. Michael Mithoefer. “Her symptoms have been reduced to the point where she no longer falls into the category of having PTSD.”

According to Mithoefers study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, 83 percent of those treated with MDMA-assisted therapy saw significant reductions in their PTSD symptoms. That’s in comparison to the 25 percent reduction in patients who were given a placebo.

To Rachel Hope, the proof is in the new life she’s been able to build in Berlin. Not only did Hope find the courage to move from her native Los Angeles to a city where she knows no one, she is also undergoing IVF treatments. Actions, she is positive, she never would have been able to take if she was still suffering from PTSD. 

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