MDMA treatment for alcohol is effective and safe, study finds

MDMA treatment for alcohol is effective and safe, study finds

  • August 2019
  • Posted By Annie

MDMA, a drug which is more commonly known as Ecstasy, might be successful in treating alcohol addiction, according to researchers from Imperial College London. In the first study using MDMA in this way, early trial results suggest that it could be better than using the standard treatment. Psychiatrists are currently evaluating a programme that combines psychotherapy with several doses of MDMA. Under the programme, participants receive eight weeks of psychotherapy and two doses of MDMA.

After nine months of monitoring, about half of the participants in the study were still “completely dry” while only one experienced a complete relapse. In comparison, about 80% of those who received the standard treatment for alcohol addiction began drinking again within three years. The study also found that it was safe to use MDMA as part of the treatment process and that none of the participants exhibited psychological or physical problems due to taking it. To date, 11 people have participated in the complete tolerability and safety study.

There is often a link between alcohol addiction and previous trauma, especially that experienced in childhood. The researchers said that MDMA “selectively impairs the fear response” which allows people to recall painful memories without feeling overwhelmed. As the study continues, the next set of trials will compare the results achieved by participants who receive the combination of psychotherapy and MDMA with a randomised control group who take a placebo as a substitute for MDMA.

MDMA was a legal prescription drug in the US until 1985, and in Switzerland until 1993, and was used to make psychotherapy more effective. Recently, some studies suggested that it could be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


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