In a world first, MDMA will be trialled to treat severe alcohol addiction. The Imperial College London has been allowed to use MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy to treat sufferers who have not been successful in breaking the cycle of substance abuse.
So how will this treatment work?
Participants in the trial will first go through a detox period after which, they will be given two therapy sessions and one full day session on 99.99 percent pure MDMA.
The drug MDMA or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a psychoactive drug used primarily for recreation. MDMA typically induces increased euphoria, empathy and heightened sensations.
Researchers believe that the drug will help patients be more emotionally open and expressive in their therapy sessions. Clinical psychologist and senior researcher Ben Sessa explains:
It’s using drugs to enhance the relationship between the therapist and the patient, and it allows us to dig down and get to the heart of the problems that drive long-term mental illness, we know that MDMA works really well in helping people who have suffered trauma and it helps to build empathy. Many of my patients who are alcoholics have suffered some sort of trauma in their past, and this plays a role in their addiction.
MDMA has also been suggested as a treatment for other mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The US Food and Drug Administration gave permission for the drug to be trialled on PTSD sufferers last year.
MDMA is considered a ‘class A’ type drug under UK law. Essentially this means that the United Kingdom has classed MDMA as being one of the most dangerous illicit drugs.
The use of illicit and recreational drugs for medicinal purposes is a hotly debated topic. So little is known about drugs such as MDMA that any kind of trialling could be risky. More study is required to better understand the effects, and whether or not going forward it could be mass produced.