According to the New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a large-scale clinical trial looking into the possibility of treating PTSD using the famous ‘party drug’ ecstasy.
The Phase 3 studies will include 230 patients and will be sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a “non-profit reasrch and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.” MAPS also sponsored Phase 2 studies which included 130 PTSD patients.
“I’m cautious but hopeful,” said Dr. Charles Marmar, a leading PTSD researcher and head of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine. “If they can keep getting good results, it will be of great use. PTSD can be very hard to treat. Our best therapies right now don’t help 30 to 40 percent of people. So we need more options.”
Dr. Marmar also expressed concern over the use of MDMA because of its potential for abuse. “It’s a feel-good drug, and we know people are prone to abuse it,” he said. “Prolonged use can lead to serious damage to the brain.”
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “MDMA can affect the brain by altering the activity of chemical messengers, or neuro-transmitters, which enable nerve cells in the brain to communicate with one another.” Which can lead to “changes in brain activity in regions involved in cognition, emotion, and motor function.”
The New York Times also reported that two trials were conducted in Charleston which “focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy.”
“After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy,” reported NYT.
Although this particular study had good results that still does not take away from the dangers that are associated with the use of MDMA.
“It sends the message that this drug will help you solve your problems, when often it just creates problems,” said Andrew Parrott, a psychologist at Swansea University in Wales who has studied the brains of chronic Ecstasy users. “This is a messy drug we know can do damage.”
In 1985, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified Ecstasy/MDMA as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medicinal purpose, but if approved the drug would be available by 2021.
(H/T – The Blaze)
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