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Study Suggests Ecstasy Could Treat PTSD

April 20, 2010

While ecstasy became infamous as a drug taken at night clubs or during parties, new research suggests that it might help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Ecstasy, also known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), was outlawed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1985. However, researchers led by South Carolina psychiatrist Dr. Michael Mithoefer, found that the drug helped PTSD patients overcome their symptoms.

Mithoefer conducted a study involving 20 patients, all of whom suffered from moderate to severe PTSD whose conditions did not improve through standard therapy. Each of the patients supplemented traditional psychotherapy with MDMA, and according to Mithoefer’s results, scored lower on post-traumatic stress disorder symptom tests following the study.

Furthermore, according to Reuters Health, “More than half of the patients – 13 – no longer met criteria for PTSD. However, two patients ‘clearly relapsed,’” according to Mithoefer, “and it’s unknown what happened to four of the patients.”

Mithoefer also told Reuters Health that, while the patients resumed antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs following the study, “they were on many fewer medications than when they started,” and that ecstasy “gives people four to six hours…where they can process their trauma.”

The findings were presented Friday during the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century conference, which was sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and held in San Jose, California from April 15 through April 18.

According to the official website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), MDMA “is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and distortions in time, perception, and tactile experiences.”

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