Can MDMA Assist With PTSD?

Man in counseling session on couch

MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and a hallucinogen. This psychoactive drug has been known to produce distortions in time and perception, boost in well-being, enhanced sensory experiences, emotional warmth, and increased energy. These effects are said to take place within 45 minutes of taking this drug, as an individual becomes “high” or “intoxicated”. Used recreationally, this drug had its place in dance clubs, raves, and more – but researchers are now questioning its potential use in the medical setting.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when an individual has undergone a tragic event of some sort; approximately 8 million Americans experience PTSD each year. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, paranoia, increased heart rate, confusion, racing thoughts, insomnia, and more. Could MDMA be a potential solution? A 2018 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry emphasized that MDMA has therapeutic potential, with the argument that enough evidence has been discovered that MDMA could technically be removed from a Schedule 1 status (no medical use) to a Schedule 2 status (next to other misused drugs that could have potential medical use). Why would MDMA be a consideration?

Other psychotherapies are currently in place, such as exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy, alongside prescription medications. While shown to be very effective, some individuals do not find resolve. Scientists are saying that MDMA could be a potential solution.

A study that was funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, according to CNN, involved 22 veterans, three firefighters and two police officers, all of whom had tried various therapies for PTSD and were still said to have significant PTSD symptoms. Participants were diagnosed either 30, 75, or 125 milligrams of MDMA for two psychotherapy sessions. Results from the study showed that one month after the second MDMA session, 68% of participants who had taken higher doses of MDMA no longer qualified for PTSD. Twenty-nine percent of patients who took lower doses of MDMA no longer qualified for PTSD, and 67% of all participants no longer qualified for PTSD a year later. Does this mean MDMA could be part of our future in medicine?

Possibly. There are still many debates regarding this topic, especially since it is considered a psychedelic drug. If you have PTSD, there are still many therapy techniques that are effective – including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of PTSD, seek the help you need today.

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