MDMA proves a promising alcoholism treatment in world-first trial

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology is reporting on a landmark clinical trial exploring the potential for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in treating subjects with alcohol use disorder. The small open-label trial is the first to test MDMA therapy as a treatment for addiction and the results suggest it is safe, well-tolerated and significantly more effective than any current treatment for alcoholism.

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, was originally synthesized in Germany in 1912 but spent much of the 20th century as an unexplored footnote in chemistry journals. The drug was rediscovered by psychonauts in the 1960s, and psychotherapists quietly explored its therapeutic potential before its use spiraled into recreational circles, eventually becoming illegal in the early 1980s.

Over the past few decades, a small community of dedicated researchers has worked to legitimize the drug and re-establish its medical uses. Leading the way has been robust work showing the drug to be significantly effective treating PTSD. Now deep in Phase 3 clinical trials, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD is just a year or two away from market approval in the United States.

For the last few years psychiatrist Ben Sessa and a team of UK researchers have been exploring the role of MDMA therapy in treating alcohol use disorder (AUD). In a newly published study the researchers report on the world’s first trial testing the novel treatment on patients suffering from addiction.

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