The use of MDMA is psychotherapy is once again being researched and tested, and the results are extremely promising.
MDMA is mostly known as the purported ingredient in recreational ecstasy, although tests revealed that other drugs are present in high proportions in the collected samples. What most people don’t know however, is the fact that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before MDMA was classified as an illegal Schedule 1 compound, its positive use in tandem with psychotherapy was recognized by more than 4,000 psychiatrists and psychologists who were experimenting with it.
MDMA is considered an entactogen – a type of psychoactive drug that induces experiences of emotional communication, oneness and emotional openness – and it literally means “to produce touching within.” It has the potential to enhance inner awareness, that’s why clinical trials are using MDMA for treating PTSD – posttraumatic stress disorder.
“Clients found it comfortable to be aware of, to communicate, and to remember thoughts and feelings that are usually accompanied by fear and anxiety,” said, George R. Greer, Psychiatry Doctor at Heffter Research Institute.
Although the urgent need for an effective PTSD treatment had numerous advocates in the field of psychiatry, backed up by their promising reports, no investigation had been established to determine the possible benefits and risks of MDMA as a therapeutic agent. Instead, a hostile regulatory prevented further research of this alternative treatment for nearly 20 years.
Fortunately, after decades of restrictions, the benefits as well as the risks are once again being rigorously researched worldwide, and retrospective data that had been gathered along the years is once again available to the non-profit research organizations.
The therapeutic benefits of MDMA resulted from individuals partaking in clinical trials in controlled medical settings. Over 1,100 patients have received the substance in phase 1 or phase 2 clinical trials without experiencing any unusual drug-related side effects. A phase 2 study in patients suffering from PTSD that included neuropsychological testing before and after two measures of MDMA reported no evidence of deterioration.
The test results support the idea that MDMA, used as a catalyst to psychotherapy, can be efficient in treating PTSD in patients who didn’t respond to previous medication or/and psychotherapy. A study from April, 2016 published in The Lancet Psychiatry reveals the following successful results of this alternative treatment:
“In the ﬁrst completed phase 2 trial, in 20 patients who had not responded to both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (with average duration of PTSD of >20 years), participants randomly assigned to MDMA with psychotherapy had signiﬁcantly greater decreases in PTSD symptoms than did participants assigned to receive inactive placebo with the same psychotherapy, and 83% no longer met criteria for PTSD, compared with 25% of placebo participants. When seven of the eight patients in the placebo group subsequently received MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in an open label crossover group, they all achieved roughly the same level of improvement as the original MDMA group.” (source)
The success of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy evolves around the use of this psychoactive compound together with the support given by psychiatrists. Overall, MDMA enhances the therapeutic process by stimulating access to an individual’s native ability to engage in his or her own unique way of healing.
“Participants in these clinical trials, in addition to showing improvements in validated measures of PTSD symptoms, often report deeply meaningful therapeutic experiences and ensuing improvements in various areas of their lives,” the study reveals. (source)
On the long run, participants in these clinical trials gained other benefits such as increased self-awareness, understanding, and enhanced spiritual life. Researchers have determined that getting over a trauma involves a series of other processes such as psychological and spiritual exploration and growth, which combined with psychotherapy decreases the symptoms of PTSD. A further psychological awareness of maintaining the state may lead to a complete remission of the affliction.
These results are based on two or three doses of MDMA administered several weeks apart. A full report of the study can be found HERE. It’s time to end the drug war and acknowledge the countless benefits that psychoactive compounds have in psychotherapy and beyond.