Will MDMA Soon Be Prescribed Freely?
While it’s doubtful doctors will be writing scripts for the ubiquitous “molly” anytime soon, there’s mounting evidence of the drug’s positive effects. The latest comes from researchers out of California studying MDMA’s impact on individuals with autism, PTSD, and end of life depression and anxiety.
Although any use of MDMA is strictly banned under federal law, the DEA recently granted permission for a group of scientists to conduct a small-scale study. Researchers from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the Santa Cruz Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) will team up to see what medical benefits MDMA offers.
This study, set to run in the next year, isn’t without precedent. Since being made illegal in 1985, MDMA’s therapeutic reactions have been studied in over 1,100 patients. There has yet to be any occurrence of an SAE (serious adverse event).
The California team, led by scientist Alicia Danforth, will examine how MDMA impacts anxiety and depression in terminally ill patients and autistic adults. The drug’s effect on social cues as they pertain to autism will also be studied.
According to a report released earlier this year, the need for exploring MDMA’s potential benefits is invaluable. Published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, the report states,
“Researchers gradually and cautiously are exploring a broader range of potential risks and benefits of MDMA-assisted therapies…Informed understanding of the facts about MDMA, a psychotherapeutic compound known to enhance prosocial behaviors, is as relevant to clinicians, researchers, the public, and policymakers now as in any earlier point in its history” (MDMA-assisted therapy: A new treatment model for social anxiety in autistic adults).
Are Researchers Just Handing Out Pills?
One of the major concerns raised against medication-assisted therapies, be they opioid, marijuana, or MDMA based, is how secure they are. That is to say, will researchers just start giving away dangerous chemicals to random people?
Of course, this isn’t the case at all. Those selected to participate in medication-assisted therapies are strictly picked. For example, because MDMA raises the heart rate of those who ingest it, individuals with a history of cardiac issues have been excluded from this study.
So, how will it run? Well, according to Brad Burge, the spokesperson for MAPS, there will be eighteen participants. These range from individuals with terminal diagnoses (cancer, etc.) to those on the autism spectrum.
All clinical trials will be double blind and will be conducted by Dr. Philip Wolfson. Participants will either be given a full dose of MDMA (125 milligrams), an active placebo dose (30 milligrams), or a placebo. All participants will then undergo three extended therapy sessions.
To ensure the mental health of all involved, post-study counseling, testing, and resources will be provided.
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Is MDMA Therapy Really a Good Idea?
Well, is it? What are the benefits and drawbacks of giving a powerful psychoactive substance to individuals suffering from various forms of mental illness?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer available yet. The full scope of MDMA assisted therapy remains to be seen. Still, as mentioned above, there is scientific evidence that suggests MDMA can be helpful in certain cases.
While it’s a far cry from “helpful in certain cases” to “the next Paxil,” MDMA does show extraordinary potential. Does this mean the average man or woman should rush out and buy ecstasy or molly on the street? Absolutely not! Let’s see what science has to say first.