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MAPS Bulletin Summer 2014: Research Edition
Media > Recent and Archival
November 20, 2012

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment: Party Drug Ecstasy?

By: Renee Nal


Gather responds to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy research results by offering some staggering statistics about how much of our population currently suffers from PTSD without hope for a working treatment.

Originally appearing here.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is said to affect eight percent of Americans. Michael and Ann Mithoefer, a husband and wife team, have a unique treatment for PTSD: the party drug Ecstasy, or “MDMA”. The nurse and psychiatrist recently published a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

But does it work?

The New York Times reports that Ecstasy induces “pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection” and has been helpful to those suffering from the anxiety disorder, which is induced by exposure to a traumatic event. The drug was made illegal in 1985, but “in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.” The study mostly looked at rape victims; and the numbers were promising, but the sample size seems statistically insignificant to make any real assessment on the worthiness of the treatment.

According to “HealMyPTSD,” a strangely large margin of ten to thirty percent of combat veterans suffer from the disorder, and in 2010, “the number of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50%.” PTSD is a strange mental illness, as there are inconsistencies in its diagnoses and it is expensive. The CBO reported that in fiscal year 2010, taxpayers spent 2 billion on treatment for the disorder.

The couple found that “15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today.” It seems promising, but clearly more research is needed.

Do you or anyone you know suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Would Ecstasy be an option for treatment?

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