MDMA Being Studied As Treatment For Alcoholism By British Scientists

A team of scientists in Bristol, England, have begun a clinical study to determine the effectiveness of using MDMA, also known as the party drug “ecstasy” or “molly,” in treating people who suffer from alcoholism. The study is the first of its kind and follows similar studies in which MDMA has been found to have positive results for people suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. If the results are positive, they could impact the growing calls for MDMA to be decriminalized for use in controlled therapy sessions for people who suffer from these conditions.

According to the Independent, deaths resulting from alcoholism have increased by 13 percent in England over 10 years starting in 2006. While some people may view alcoholism as a behavioral choice, research shows that because of alcohol’s highly addictive nature and significant changes in the brain chemistry of heavy, long-term users, it can rightfully be considered a disease, and one for which a carefully constructed treatment model involving the use of MDMA could have life-saving benefits for many who suffer from its horrible effects.

Dr. Ben Sessa, a clinical psychiatrist involved in the MDMA study on treating alcoholism, explains on his website that MDMA, the full name of which is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a rather amazing drug that got its start as a treatment pharmaceutical, not merely a party drug.

“Early life psychological trauma – especially when induced by child maltreatment and abuse – is very difficult to manage,” Dr. Sessa writes.

“It underlies most if not all adult anxiety-based disorders such as PTSD and addictions. Sadly, traditional psychiatric treatments with antidepressants and counseling are ineffective for 50 percent of sufferers because the severity of their distressing trauma is too great for them to discuss and explore their memories with a therapist. But MDMA provides exactly the right blend of subjective psychological effects to safely and gently hold the PTSD sufferer; providing a secure platform of containment in which they can reflect upon and eventually resolve their long-standing emotional issues.”

Could MDMA be an effective treatment for alcoholism? [Image by Zerbor/Shutterstock]

Dr. Sessa goes on to explain that MDMA is currently not legally available for use in clinical treatments anywhere in the world, but that a growing number of psychiatrists, researchers, and patient advocates are trying to change that. Studies such as the one treating alcoholism in Bristol will help to support the claims that MDMA can be used safely and effectively to treat people with numerous psychological issues.

The Bristol MDMA study involves people who suffer from alcoholism who can be classified as heavy drinkers, consuming the equivalent of five or more bottles of wine per day. They were chosen to participate in the study by Bristol’s health services and have all undergone repeated prior treatments with no positive results. After going through controlled detox, the participants will undergo two therapy sessions, followed by a day where they will receive a high-dose of MDMA accompanied by therapy and psychoanalysis.

The Independent reports that at the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference in Oakland a similar clinical study was reported in which 67 percent of participants who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder were effectively cured of their suffering after undergoing MDMA therapy, further strengthening the argument to legalize the drug for its use in such treatments.

If the Bristol study has similarly positive results in curing alcoholism, we could be one step closer to seeing MDMA used as a treatment for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, and perhaps other diseases.

mdma ecstasy alcoholism
MDMA, or "ecstasy," is widely known as a party drug, but research shows it has therapeutic uses. [Image by DisobeyArt/Shutterstock]

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