Medical News Today: ‘Party Drug’ Could Help to Treat PTSD

Summary: Medical News Today features MAPS’ research results from clinical trials studying the efficacy of MDMA combined with psychotherapy to treat PTSD. “The results are preliminary but intriguing,” reports Tim Newman of Medical News Today.

Originally appearing here.

In conjunction with psychotherapy, MDMA may help to ease PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), as the name suggests, is an anxiety disorder that occurs following a major trauma.

Affecting up to 17.1 percent of veterans and up to one third of first responders, the symptoms include intrusive memories of said stressful event, flashbacks, nightmares, and intense distress.

To date, finding effective treatments for PTSD has proven difficult; psychotherapy and other talking therapies are normally the first port of call, but they do not work for everyone.

Medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics are typically used, but, again, they do not work for everyone, and side effects can be significant.

Though researchers are keenly investigating ways to improve treatment, running effective studies can also be challenging; there are often high drop-out rates.

Often this is due to the nature of PTSD’s symptoms, but sometimes it is because the condition has worsened, and perhaps the person has been hospitalized.

Also, some believe that patient characteristics might play a role, as might homelessness and drug use disorders.

These difficulties are mirrored in real-life situations; people with PTSD often drop out of therapy, limiting how useful it can be.


In an attempt to get around these problems, scientists are approaching the treatment of PTSD from innovative directions. Recently, a study funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, CA, investigated the potential use of MDMA — the active ingredient in the controversial party drug, ecstasy.

This might, at first, seem to be an odd choice, but this is not the first time that MDMA has been used in this way.