World-First Trial Shows MDMA Could Be Used to Treat Alcoholism

The results show that MDMA-assisted therapy is potentially more effective than any current treatments used to treat alcoholism.
Derya Ozdemir
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After many years of stagnated research, many recreational drugs are being revisited to test their viability in treating PTSD, anxiety, and other serious ailments, and the party drug known as MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is one of them.

Researchers are working to legitimize the drug and revive its medical uses, especially in the treatment of PTSD, and now, psychiatrist Ben Sessa and a team of U.K. researchers have published a new study that explores the role of MDMA therapy in treating alcohol use disorder (AUD), per a report by psychedelic biotech company Awakn Life Sciences.

The research, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, reports on a landmark clinical trial, showing the untapped potential for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in treating those with alcohol addiction. While small, it is the first to test MDMA therapy as a treatment for addiction.

The results show that MDMA therapy is safe, well-tolerated, and much more effective than any current treatment used to deal with alcoholism. 

The study explained with before and after

To conduct this proof-of-concept study, the researchers recruited 14 subjects who were suffering from AUD to establish a safety profile for the MDMA therapy. The course of treatment lasted eight weeks with 10 psychotherapy sessions. Eight sessions were one-hour psychotherapy appointments while the other two involved day-long MDMA treatments.

The researchers reported that there were no adverse responses to the drug during the treatment sessions nor in the following days. In addition to reporting high tolerability and safety, the study revealed some important findings about "Terrible Tuesdays."

This therapeutic phenomenon where the user experiences negative mood swings after two to three days after using MDMA has been reported by recreational users for years. By following each subject's mood state for seven days after each session, the researchers saw that they didn't experience this post-drug hangover. This suggests that "Terrible Tuesdays" could be due to polydrug use and other confounding factors instead of the MDMA itself, per the researchers' hypothesis.

Moreover, the results are outstanding: Compared to an average of 130 units of alcohol consumed per week by each subject at the beginning of the study, only 21 percent of the group were drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week nine months after the trial. 

While this is still very preliminary research, more studies exploring the efficacy of MDMA therapy are well underway. As of now, the results suggest that, when delivered through a clinical therapeutic program, MDMA could be used as a promising alcoholism treatment. 

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