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For Cost of One Drug, Military Might Have Cured 86% of Veterans With PTSD​

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For Cost of One Drug, Military Might Have Cured 86% of Veterans With PTSD


National Institute for Integrative Healthcare

SANTA ROSA, CA. During the last ten years, the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Defense Department (DOD) spent $791 million on a drug called Risperidone. Initially touted as a treatment for PTSD, a clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association eventually showed that it was no more effective than a placebo – an inert comparison pill. 

Because they offer the allure of a quick fix, writing prescriptions for PTSD and other mental health problems like anxiety and depression has become the norm in the military. Meanwhile, the Pentagon and VA rebuffed repeated attempts to evaluate EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), an evidence-based behavioral treatment for PTSD. EFT has been shown to be effective for PTSD in two clinical trials and a number of outcome studies.

A typical result comes from one trial published in the prestigious Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, the oldest peer-reviewed psychiatry journal in North America. It found that after six sessions of EFT, 86% of veterans no longer suffered from PTSD. The results held up over time. Participants also experienced marked drops in pain, depression, and anxiety. Other research shows that EFT is safe, reliable, and easy to learn. The largest training organization in the US, EFT Universe, makes The EFT Mini-Manual available free online so that basic instruction in the method is freely available to anyone, including veterans and their family members.

During the decade the Pentagon wrote those millions of dollars of Risperidone prescriptions, practitioners made many attempts to present EFT to the military. The lead investigator for the six session study is Dr. Dawson Church, author of the book The Genie in Your Genes, and founder of the Veterans Stress Solution. He says, “I began presenting the evidence for EFT to the VA in 2006. I’ve talked to generals in the Pentagon, the top officials at the Defense Center for Excellence, and many VA mental health professionals. Unfortunately, few have shown any interest in non-drug treatments. Thousands of veterans have now sought help through the Veterans Stress Solution because they can’t get these treatments at the VA.”

The price of drugs can be compared with the cost of treatment with EFT. An estimated 500,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from PTSD. The cost of six sessions with an EFT practitioner for every one of them comes to $300 million. For less than half of what the military spent on an ineffective drug treatment, it could have purchased this effective and safe behavioral treatment for every veteran with PTSD. If the results were as good as those in the studies, nearly nine out of ten of those veterans would be PTSD-free today.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, in 2010 several members of congress wrote a lengthy letter to top military mental health professionals. They proposed 7 simple and cost-free steps to help veterans gain access to EFT, such as circulating copies of clinical trials to VA mental health professionals. Three years later, none of these steps have been taken. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) wrote to Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki urging action to get EFT to veterans, and was also rebuffed.

Meanwhile, the prescription drug machine rolls on. In 2012, according to a report in the American-Statesman, “the Pentagon spent more on pills, injections and vaccines than it did on Black Hawk helicopters, Abrams tanks, Hercules C-130 cargo planes and Patriot missiles — combined.” 

For more information visit the EFT Research Bibliography.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Dawson Church, please email us.

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