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MAPS Bulletin Winter 2013: 2013 Annual Report
Media > Recent and Archival
December 10, 2013

MDMA in Phase 2 of Clinical Research as a Prescription Medication

By: Ashley Cizek

Crust Nation

Crust Nation writes about the possibility of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy becoming a prescription treatment for PTSD by the year 2021. The article provides an in-depth overview of how MDMA-assisted psychotherapy affects people suffering from PTSD.

Originally appearing here.

Ever wonder what Studio 54 goers thought when Adderall made it to the market as an ADHD medication? Kandi Kidz may be able to relate after they hear that someone somewhere is working to make MDMA a medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit, experts from the Multi-disciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) answered thousands of questions regarding psychedelic drug use and other drug myths and concerns. One feed of questioning regarded the use of methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) in therapy and treatment of PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. Currently under Phase 2 of clinical research, expert Amy Emerson explains the steps to putting a drug on the market, saying “We anticipate the decision regarding MDMA as a prescription medication would occur in 2021.” Other questions regarding the risks, benefits, and myths about marijuana, LSD, and other drugs also flooded the feed. The 10 best questions and answers can be found here.

To those of you who might fear for the sanity of those trying to make this happen, rest assured there are true medical uses for MDMA. Its uses in therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been studied well before the war on drugs. Also, it has been used in marriage counseling and therapy for many years in a controlled setting for later study. The interesting thing about the effect of MDMA is that while perception is slightly altered, a person’s understanding of their surroundings does not change. A person with PTSD has trouble in therapy because of their strong emotional and adrenaline response to their past trauma. MDMA suppresses these responses, but allows the person to fully understand what is being discussed and recalled. The road block is therefore taken down, allowing for all the bad memories and trauma to be put on the table without an overwhelming response in the patient. This opens up the door for coping,  eventually leading to healing and relief. The same situation can be said in marriage counseling, but the love factor is also present. MDMA releases what scientists call the “cuddle drug”, oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during childbirth, during breast feeding, and after orgasm. When couples are with the one they love, they can truly let their inhibitions go. This is why we see couples almost about to bang on the dance floor sometimes at raves. However, in a marriage therapy session, we yet again see the opportunity for harsh or difficult conversation without harsh responses. The “cuddle drug” allows those old feelings of love to return to the surface. However, simple therapy is one thing, prescriptions are another. According to Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D.,:

“Couples therapy was actually the most common therapeutic use for MDMA before it was placed on Schedule 1 in 1985. However, at present the most effective way to study the risks and benefits of MDMA is to study it as a treatment for a clinically diagnosable psychiatric disorder [PTSD]. After medical use becomes more accepted, it may become possible for additional uses of the medication to be studied.”

The concept of MDMA being medically legal does have it’s concerns. Will it spread like wildfire like Adderall with college kids? What would be the qualifications of someone receiving a prescription? And exactly what amount of MDMA is safe (as well as effective) on a regular basis for someone? Kandi Kidz hold your horses, 2021 is still 7 years away. While the research is interesting, and the concept of a drug such as MDMA being more readily accessible is groundbreaking, there are a lot of things to work out before it can be put on the market. And goodness knows, the government will try it’s hardest to keep it out of the rave scene!

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