What does Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD conjure up for you? War veterans back from their battles abroad? Perhaps. But you don’t have to fight overseas to experience trauma. There are natural disasters, loss of loved ones, and many other experiences that can leave a permanent mark of emotional distress. PTSD sufferers often relive the trauma, experience anxiety, drug abuse and insomnia. Unfortunately, current medications are not very effective in treating this condition.
MDMA Found to be Effective in Treating PTSD
But a recent, pretty startling discovery has provided PTSD sufferers with some hope: MDMA, or the drug known on the street as ecstasy, was found to be very effective in treating PTSD for the long term. The first study showed such strong improvements in the patient’s well being that the effect was over 3 times stronger than that required to achieve statistical significance. The second study repeated the treatment and followed up with the patients for a period of two years. Even after two years, over 80% of the patients still showed significant improvement.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded phase II trials MDMA (aka Ecstasy or Molly) in November, 2016, and the drug has now been approved for phase III testing in the treatment acute post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although there is strong consideration for the legalization medical MDMA, the prescription process would be far more restrictive when compared to other prescription narcotics. In limited trials, patients suffered from PTSD received a dose MDMA in a controlled environment and then participated in extensive talk-therapy. According to the resolved research, more than two-thirds patients who participated in phase II trials have sustained remission PTSD symptoms.
A total 80 licensed therapists have been tasked with participating in the FDA’s phase III testing. Of those is NYU’s director addiction medicine, Stephen Ross. Ross has setup what he calls a “dosing room” in which he administers MDMA to patients and then engages them with talk-therapy for 8 consecutive hours. If the FDA ultimately approves MDMA for medicinal use, it will only be available in a residential program. It will not be available through a pharmacy with a prescription.
Treatment Setting is Very Important
MDMA can be dangerous. At higher doses, it can cause a life-threatening rise in body temperature or hyperthermia, dehydration as well as a deadly collection of symptoms known as Seratonin Syndrome. It is also a disinhibitory, euphoric and slightly hallucinogenic drug so the treatment setting is very important.
But if the drug is taken in small doses under clinical supervision, it holds great promise for many sufferers of PTSD.