Ecstasy Drug May Help Treat PTSD

A pile of small white pills
New research suggests that a party drug may be effective for even the most resistant post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Research concludes that people suffering from PTSD experienced lasting positive benefits from therapy that included treatment with methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA) – better known as ecstasy.

The study, published last week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The organization has several studies ongoing or pending in which researchers use of the lab-version ecstasy with psychotherapy to treat victims of violent crime or war. Researchers looked at the long-term benefits for participants in a clinical trial conducted more than three years earlier.

The drug was widely viewed and legally used as a “party drug” until it was added to the list of illegal substances such as LSD in 1985. Researchers have long been interested in using ecstasy in psychotherapy because it reduces anxiety in users and triggers a sense of comfort and intimacy.

The published findings are the follow-up to a study reported on by two years ago, which found that 83 percent of the subjects receiving the Ecstasy-assisted treatment were free of PTSD symptoms after two months. The latest findings conclude found those same patients were still symptom free an average of 3.5 years after completing the treatments.

“With such encouraging data, including evidence of long-term effectiveness after only two or three MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions, there is now no doubt that this research should be expanded to larger clinical trials,” Dr. Michael Mithoefer, the lead researcher, said.