Studies find Ecstasy effective at treating soldiers with PTSD

Kim LaCapria

Clinical use of Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is being debated again after a study showed it was helpful in treating soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

Before it was widely banned in the 70s and 80s, therapists used the compound as a "catalyst" to psychotherapy, and many still believe the drug can be useful for patients. A lead researcher on the study explains how the results seemed to indicate strong benefits for soldiers who have had PTSD long-term:

"PTSD treatment involves revisiting the trauma in a therapeutic setting, but many patients become overwhelmed by anxiety or numb themselves emotionally, and so they can't really successfully engage," said study lead researcher Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist in private practice in Charleston, S.C. "But what we found is that the MDMA seemed to temporarily decrease fear without blunting emotions, and so it helped patients better process their grief."

Mithoefer was quick to add that the results don't mean that rolling is an across the board cure appropriate for everyone:

"It needs to be taken in a therapeutic setting with careful monitoring and a lot of follow-up to help patients integrate the experience successfully," he said. "I've had patients with PTSD outside the study tell me that they've used MDMA at a party and had bad experiences, because when feelings about the trauma came up, they weren't prepared to deal with them."