While molly and ecstasy are taken recreationally by millions of young people around the globe every year, its active substance, MDMA, may soon be legal as a medical drug for PTSD and anxiety-related conditions.
The push for MDMA to enter the legal market is coming as a result of growing evidence that it is an effective treatment for a variety of issues, reported Inverse. One of the areas where it has been shown to be the most effective is the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition which doctors have found extremely difficult to treat. Many patients do not respond well to the available therapies.
MDMA, on the other hand, is proving to be an extremely beneficial drug for test subjects in early trials carried out by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) — a leader of the modern-day psychedelic research movement.
MAPS is currently wrapping up the end of their Phase II study after extremely successful results in the first round of testing. A massive 83 percent of PTSD sufferers were able to completely overcome their symptoms within two months of beginning administration of the drug. Moreover, four years later, the participants were still free of symptoms.
Researchers chose from a large selection of the people who typically suffer from PTSD. Combat veterans, 9/11 first responders, and sexual assault victims were among the Phase I group. One of the test subjects, Tony Macie, a retired Iraq war sergeant, says that MDMA is the only therapy that has worked for him in the long term. Where other drugs have failed, what is sold as molly and ecstasy has helped him overcome his PTSD.
“One of the first things I said when it kicked in was ‘this is what I’ve been looking for.’ I reconnected with myself and did a lot of internal work, and afterwards it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Unfortunately, the Phase I study was extremely small — with a sample size of just 20 people. That makes it hard to say whether or not larger groups will show a definitive enough link for the Federal Drug Administration to consider approving the drug. Phase II, with a sample size of 147, is currently coming to an end. While MAPS did not share their results, it is telling that they have already met with the FDA about plans to get Phase III — the largest study yet — underway, said Brad Burge, MAPS’ director of Communications.
“Phase 3 starts around 2017, and it will take four to five years to finish. So that will put it at early 2021 for FDA approval.”
While MAPS experiments with a wide variety of psychedelic drugs, they have found that MDMA is by far the most effective when it comes to PTSD. Other drugs, like mushrooms or LSD, don’t allow the user to stay quite as grounded. Still, those substances have been shown to be effective for other conditions — something Burge says may benefit from changing societal norms.
“I think we’re seeing many changes in how Americans think about psychedelics. For the first time, clinical research results are providing hard data showing that, used carefully and in the right settings, MDMA and other psychedelics can dramatically enhance the effectiveness of therapy for PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. We’re also seeing a declining faith in the War on Drugs, and people are increasingly willing to put science before stigma when it comes to evaluating the safety and effectiveness of these powerful compounds.”
Though the news is promising, street forms of MDMA for PTSD sufferers are still not recommended. Ecstasy and molly — even when advertised by dealers as pure — is almost never without the addition of at least one other stimulant.
[Image via David Hallett/Getty Images]