World’s First Trials of MDMA to Treat Alcohol Addiction Set to Begin
Researchers at Imperial College London prepare to begin the world’s first clinical trials of MDMA to treat alcohol addiction.
Treatment will take place over the course of several months and include controlled doses of MDMA along with comprehensive psychotherapy.
MDMA is an empathogen, which means it helps elicit feelings of empathy and social connection.
MDMA for PTSD, Autism, and Anxiety
The idea of using MDMA for addiction treatment and mental illness is new, but it’s also taking off fairly quickly.
In December of 2016, the FDA approved large-scale phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA to treat PTSD.
In medically controlled settings, administering the drug produces profound emotional effects that can result in unprecedented recovery.
These revolutionary psychoactive treatments could succeed where previous treatments fail.
MDMA for Alcoholism and Addiction
When it comes to alcoholism and drug addiction, relapse rates remain high.
Available approaches to treatment haven’t changed much, either.
Now, scientists are exploring different options including MDMA and other psychoactive drugs like ketamine and psilocybin to encourage recovery.
It may seem silly to treat drug or alcohol addiction with another drug.
However, antidepressants are also drugs. Doctors frequently prescribe antidepressants and other drugs to patients recovering from addiction at your average drug addiction treatment center.
Ben Sassa, a clinical psychiatrist on the trial, told The Guardian in June that MDMA works well with people suffering from trauma and “helps to build empathy.” He added that past trauma played a role in the addiction of some of his patients who were alcoholics.
When combined with an appropriate addiction therapy program, drugs like MDMA can encourage empathy and improve emotional healing.
How It Works
The study involves twenty patients: all heavy drinkers and chronic relapsers.
They will first go through a safe drug and alcohol detoxification process. Doctors will then administer specific doses of MDMA prior to supervised therapy sessions.
Two therapy sessions involve low doses of the drug, are fairly short, and involve talking to a counselor.
A third session will take place over an entire day and include a higher dose of MDMA. During this time, the patients will relax and perform meditative activities such as lying down while wearing an eye mask.
Sassa says the drugs have all been specifically manufactured for the trials and test at nearly 100% purity.
The goal is to use MDMA to enhance the recovery process and encourage emotional response in patients where conventional treatment falls short.