In a tilt toward hope, the Food and Drug Administration has approved phase-three trials of MDMA as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. If the results are good, the drug could be given as a legalized prescription as soon as 2021, the Guardian reports.
This wouldn’t be like medical marijuana, where patients can use the drug at home. Rather, these trials use MDMA to assist in psychotherapy. Once a month for three months, patients take the drug at the start of an extended talk-therapy session. That’s interleaved with traditional, non-drug-assisted meetings.
During the MDMA-assisted sessions, patients reportedly lie on a couch wearing an eye-shade, under the supervision of a two-person treatment team. The drug helps patients to open up and better process their emotions: “[T]he direct pharmacologic effects of MDMA are occurring in conjunction with this complex psychotherapeutic process, hopefully acting as a catalyst to its healing potential,” said Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a psychotherapist involved in the clinical trials.
The National Center for PTSD estimates that 7 to 8 percent of Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives, with higher rates for veterans. Between 30 and 40 percent of patients aren’t helped with current treatment. If MDMA reaches them — as results so far indicate — it could be a breakthrough.