MDMA, the key ingredient used in the ecstasy and Molly, the two drugs synonymous with partying is making a comeback in a controlled setting. The drug is being used to study the positive effect for use as a therapeutic aid.
Just last week, MDMA was approved for clinical trials by the DEA for the use of the psychedelic drug in combination with psychotherapy as a method for treating anxiety associated with terminal illnesses.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has introduced a clinical trial as part of their study to confirm MDMA as an effective treatment method in a scientific setting. The study is not the first time experts have utilized the drug in conjunction with psychotherapy. If the positive results from the trial are valid, it will present a new use as part of a treatment regiment for the drug.
Since 2001, the California-based MAPS has conducted studies on the effects of psychedelics on PTSD patients, all of which approved by the DEA. However, the latest approval suggests a shift in the DEA’s policy on the dangers of the drug.
When manufactured legally for research purposes, pure MDMA, is much different from the mixture of compounds found in the streets (Molly, ecstasy, etc.) Most of which isn’t even MDMA but a combination of stimulants meant to mimic the effects of MDMA.
MDMA produces exhilarating feelings, stimulates the senses, and pretty much makes you love everyone around you. Which is the reason for the study, MDMA helps lower anxiety.
However, there is a downside, In some cases, coming down from MDMA can also lead to anxiety and depression. A point countered by Brad Burge, director of communications at MAPS, who says the stress is temporary because as the effects of the MDMA wear off, so do the negative effects.
“It’s not so much anxiety that MDMA produces but rather arousal. When that arousal comes about, in an unsafe situation, such as outside of therapy, or in a recreational context, it may be experienced as anxiety. But in the context of psychotherapy, that arousal may be experienced as a form of fear but also excitement and tension that comes with MDMA. So that anxiety can be used productively to assist the therapeutic process,” Purge said in an interview with Engadget.
The study will conduct a clinical trial involving 18 subjects. Preconditions for a subject’s qualification for participation include:
Diagnoses of a life-threatening illness, associated anxiety or a person with a life expectancy of at least nine months.
The study will experiment using different various of amounts of dosage in different patients. While five subjects will be given a placebo dose of 0mg of MDMA combined with psychotherapy. The remaining subjects will be given active doses of MDMA varying around 125mg, also used with psychotherapy.
People given the placebo during stage 1 of the study will be given the option to proceed to stage two where they would get to experience the effects of the drug.
Listed as a scheduled-1 controlled substance-1 with no medical use, the DEA made the drug illegal in 1985 despite it’s uses in therapeutic settings. However, it surfaced on the streets with the introduction as ecstasy.
Approval for studies became difficult to achieve due to the fact it required authorization from the FDA, DEA, and an independent ethics committee.
MAPS is the only medical association to win approval for six MDMA-related studies, including research on treating PTSD and social anxieties in autistic adults.
The authorizing of this latest study for terminally ill patients is being hailed as a significant step forward. However, because of the characterization of the drug, it could still take years due for MDMA to be fully approved outside the clinical trial stage. The four-year comprehensive study stage for approval by the FDA will not expect to commence until 2017.
“We would ultimately like research to be done that can show us the safest way to use drugs,” says Burge. “As long as psychedelics are illegal, people will continue to use them in irresponsible ways, purchase them in black markets and not know what they’re getting.”