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Ecstasy To Treat PTSD

Ecstasy To Treat PTSD

Scientists use ecstasy to treat victims of post traumatic stress disorder…

The party drug ecstasy, and its active ingredient MDMA, could become the new breakthrough treatment for patients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, according to a report published in July 2010.

The study involved 20 patients who had suffered from PTSD for an average of 19 years, and had not responded to previous drug and psychotherapy treatments. The participants were mostly women who were victims of child abuse of rape.

Twelve of the twenty were treated with a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy; the other eight were only administered a placebo along with psychotherapy.

At the end of the study, ten of the patients in the group who were given MDMA reported significant improvements in their PTSD, compared to just two of the eight people in the control group.

Those who responded well to the treatment, ‘no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD,’ said Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a South Carolina psychiatrist who oversaw the testing. []

ecstasy to treat ptsd

Ecstasy To Treat PTSD

In addition, three of the patients who had been unable to work prior to the tests said they felt well enough to return.

The study also found ‘no evidence that the patients who took the Ecstasy experienced any ill effects from the drug,’ Mithoefer said.

Now, after nearly 10 years of red tape and bureaucratic delays, the study has finally been completed and published. The same study is now being conducted on Military service members who were stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

When the study was originally approved in 2001, the U.S. military was not engaged in Middle East, so the application only requested the study to included victims of crime.

Rick Doblin, who founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – a group that analyzes the use of psychedelic drugs in mental health treatment, told

“We want most of the veterans [in the next study] to come from Iraq and Afghanistan. But we want some Vietnam veterans as well because we want to see if we can help people who have had these [PTSD] patterns for decades.”

Although the study concentrated on victims of child abuse and rape, and not on people who had been engaged in combat, Mithoefer hopes the results will be the same.

He went on to explain that while the research suggests that treatments should work the same for most people suffering from PTSD, there are some important differences that will need to be taken into account.

“It is always individualized, so working with veterans is going to have some different qualities than, say, working with people with childhood sexual abuse.”

Nevertheless, Doblin has fought through years of red tape – against a government who opposed the use of an illegal drug for medical purposes – to allow such tests to be approved, and has no plans of stopping his work just yet.

One reason it had been so hard to convince the FDA to allow the study to go ahead was because experts ‘don’t give drugs to people who have a high incidence of drug abuse.’ But Doblin argues that the reason these people turn to drugs is because of PTSD.

He added:

“And it’s not about giving it to them for the rest of their lives, but two or three times in a controlled setting with a therapist present.”

“That’s the profound power of MDMA when used in a therapeutic setting,” he added.

The Study was published in July edition of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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  1. Bryant Jordan: Study: Ecstasy Treats PTSD., July 16, 2010.
  2. Photo by Chris Breikss: VPD seized 107k ecstasy pills. Via Flickr, 12/10/2009.

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