Summary: 11Alive highlights the promising results of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, gleaning insight on the process and protocol of the treatment from Dr. Ray Worth who will oversee a MAPS-sponsored trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for a phase 3 site in New Orleans. Dr. Worth explains, “So much is covered in those MDMA sessions that might take months or years in normal psychotherapy.”
Originally appearing here.
You hear about the dangers of MDMA. The street drug is called “Molly” and “Ecstasy.”
Now there’s a push to make this illegal drug legal. Why?
To help treat PTSD.
For ten years, war Veteran Virgil Huston suffered.
“I was on almost every anti-depressant they make and none of them worked,” he said. “There were times I wouldn’t get out of bed.”
The 62-year-old joined the Army after Vietnam, serving active duty for eight years, no plans to go back.
After 9/11, Virgil decided to serve his country again. After a tour in Iraq, as a soldier and a tour in Afghanistan as a contractor, Virgil returned home from war different.
Images of the violence witnessed latched onto his thought without letting go.
“There were blood and guts involved and bad things happening to civilians,” he said.
He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. An estimated 24.4 million people have PTSD. Most of the patients are prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication to treat symptoms. However, nothing gave Virgil relief.
But then, he discovered an article on social media about treating PTSD with MDMA, which is known as Ecstasy.
“It’s definitely not a party,” Dr. Ray Worth said. “It’s a healing experience.”
Right now, MDMA is moving into the last phase of a clinical trial to treat PTSD. The trial was commissioned by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. So far, the results are outperforming traditional PTSD treatments. If the results continue to hold up, it could become legal.
“Comparatively with these preliminary results I would say it’s unprecedented, it’s remarkable,” Dr. Worth said.
Of those in the trial, 68 percent in the trials no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD, but most still had some symptoms. That’s compared to 40 percent of people who use traditional treatments, who only saw a reduction in symptoms.
The therapy takes 12 to 15 weeks. There are three prep sessions with each of them lasting 90 minutes.
Then the patient goes through hours of guided therapy sessions with MDMA. The sessions aren’t your typical therapy, there may be music. Each session is a month apart. There is also a 90-minute integrative session with no drugs after each session.
“So much is covered in those MDMA sessions that might take months or years in normal psychotherapy,” Worth said.
He will oversee the New Orleans site for the third phase of the trial.
“They’ll really put the hypothesis to the test, does this work, can we count on it to work reliably,” he said.
For Virgil, it did.
“Heck it’s been four years, it’s holding so I’m pretty convinced it’s permanent,”Virgil said. “To me it’s the silver bullet for PTSD, it’s the most promising thing for treating PTSD that’s ever come up.”
If the trial goes well the FDA and DEA could approve it in 2021. The third phase of the trial could take years because they are using a larger test group.
The drug only became a schedule 1 in 1986. There’s been a wave of some of these drugs making a come back for therapeutic reasons. However, it wouldn’t be on the shelf in a store, it will like have to be administered through a psychiatrist within a therapy setting.