The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have recently approved studies of MDMA, which is the active ingredient in the drugs ecstasy and Molly. The approval allows researchers in California to begin testing the substance for possible capabilities to alleviate depression among cancer patients in the terminal III phase and social anxiety in autistic people and adults suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA is known to give its users a feeling of euphoria and reduces the fear of communicating with others. The drug is also known to boost confidence levels within individuals, which could help them with everyday activities on a prolonged basis. Crashes are unlikely because it is a pure substance that does not have any serious side effects.
Long-time supporter and practitioner of assisted MDMA psychiatry, Dr. Philip Wolfson, is recruiting 18 people for the study, which will be supported by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAP). The test will include patients who have up to nine months or longer to live. Some patients will receive placebos, while others will have a double-blind test. Each will receive a dose of 125 milligrams of MDMA or the placebo. The idea is to alleviate fear in those that are closer to death, as in during the terminal phase III of cancer patients. Researchers have turned to MDMA because during the 1970s and 1980s, American psychiatrists used the substance as an aid in therapy until users started to abuse it, and the DEA had to ban it.
Participants of the study will undergo monitored sessions for a month, taking either the placebo or dosages. After six months, the participants will have interactive therapy sessions, follow-up counseling sessions, and some will be given the option to prolong the study by receiving an additional 62.5 milligram dose of the substance. Researchers and scientists hope to receive positive outcomes within the next 12-15 months.
The FDA and DEA approving the MDMA studies raises the chances of shortening the number of people suffering from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Previous research has found it can relieve symptoms of PTSD and depression. Psychiatrists have also found that 80 percent of soldiers who fought in the Iraq war as well as victims of sexual abuse no longer suffered from PTSD once they were given assisted MDMA therapy. MDMA has been linked to decreases in defensiveness and fears, and an increase in trust between practitioners and patients.
According to Los Angeles researcher Alicia Danforth, the substance can help autistic adults with social anxiety, as it has been proven that the drug increases awareness of social cues and bonding. She is also supported by researchers from Harbor UCLA Medical and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, who have told sources that the study is vital for autistic adults because, as of now, there is a lack of treatments which work effectively for them.
However, Danforth and other researchers do not want people to believe they are investigating new treatments for people who are suffering from personality disorders, nor are they trying to cure people suffering from the disorders, either. Instead, researchers and scientists are running the studies to hopefully be able to give the patients a tool to live a functional life.
The MDMA, which will be used in the studies, is safer than what is found in the party drugs ecstasy and Molly, due to its purity. The street drugs only contain 20 percent MDMA, and it is mixed with other drugs to give individuals the high they are seeking. Having the mixture of the other drugs causes the various side effects that occur after taking the street drugs, which are unlikely to occur when taking pure MDMA.
If everything goes as hoped, and the drug is proven to help suffering patients, scientists and researchers hope the DEA and FDA will legalize MDMA again, as a prescription drug for patients. The FDA and DEA approved the MDMA studies over a year ago, and the news became public over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend, due to a Reddit post. Researchers say the study is to prove whether or not the drug can help people with personality disorders live life to its full potential.
By Krystle Mitchell
Vice News: Test How: MDMA can relieve anxiety in Terminal III
New York Daily News: Scientist study if MDMA helps autistic adults suffering from social anxiety and PTSD
The Independent: Autistic adults could take pure MDMA for social anxiety
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