Ecstasy Potential Use To Treat PTSD

If you think of MDMA, the drug often cut with other substances and sold as “Molly” or Ecstasy, as just an illicit party drug, think again. A growing body of research suggests that it and other psychedelic drugs can be effective treatments for ailments ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to social anxiety in autistic adults. And one of the leading proponents of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy suggests the drug could be legally available sooner than might you think.

“We’re on track for MDMA to be approved by the FDA by 2021,” Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, said at the Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference in New York on Oct. 10. “We are in a pretty good place for reaching this goal.”

In order to make this happen, MAPS has undertaken an ambitious $21 million plan to fund clinical trials and train psychotherapists.

Here’s how it works: MDMA is an empathogen, which means it stimulates areas of the brain associated with feelings of love, connection and empathy. When used under the guidance of trained clinicians, it can allow patients with PTSD to explore traumatic memories in a safe, nonthreatening way.

“Really, it’s MDMA-assisted psychotherapy,” Doblin explained. “That’s the treatment — it’s not just the MDMA by itself. This provides a lot of extra support and safety through the whole process.”

In the first clinical trial for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, 83 percent of patients no longer showed symptoms of the disorder after just two sessions.