There's no perfect treatment for the psychological ailments that veterans face when returning from combat. What works for one veteran may not work for another — in some cases, it may even make things worse. Unfortunately, the burden of finding the best method of treatment (which usually involves endless hours of trial and error) is almost always placed squarely on the shoulders of those preoccupied with coping with post-traumatic stress.
For some folks, taking prescription medication helps — and that's great. For others, those same medications may cause more harm than good. The veterans for which standard treatments don't work often feel as if they're being tossed into a box and told to just keep taking pills until the problem is better. We can all agree that there has got to be a better solution, but it's not an easy ask — there's no magic wand to wave to make the bad life experiences just go away.
So, to take some steps in the positive direction, some veterans are venturing into the taboo. From Shock to Awe, a new documentary that comes out November 12, follows two veterans as they embark on a journey into psychedelic medicines to try and finally find peace and balance.
The documentary follows Army veterans Matt Kahl and Mike Cooley as they carry on with their post-military lives. It captures their struggles with post-traumatic stress and shows us how those struggles can tear apart social and family lives. In their ongoing search for inner peace, the two are lead to the Soul Quest Church of Mother Earth in Orlando, Florida, where they imbibe ayahuasca, a medicinal tea made by indigenous South American shamans that contains DMT, a strong psychoactive compound.
While individual consumption of ayahuasca is illegal and is listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic, when taken at a recognized church in a sanctioned ceremony, it's legally ambiguous under the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act.
It's said that taking the tea one time is enough to induce a vision trip that can forever change a person. From Shock to Awe follows Kahl and Cooley and they embark on this inward journey. Just as with any treatment for post-traumatic stress, what works for one person might not work for another — but this film shows us the amazing changes that can happen to a person when given new perspective.
To learn more about these vets and their experience, be sure to catch the movie when it releases November 12th — there are screenings happening across the country, so be sure to look for the one nearest you!