This week the FDA approved large-scale phase 3 clinical trials for using MDMA to treat PTSD. This is a big deal because these trials are the final step before a drug hits the market. (Apparently drugs sold by doctors need to be regulated. But supplements which could potentially kill you can be sold over the counter in any store no problem.)
MDMA has already gone through phase 2 trials with impressive results for treating PTSD. In the earlier trials, the drug eliminated PTSD symptoms in 83% of patients after only 2 months.
And guess what?
When they reviewed the patients’ symptoms in the following years, patients reported that their PTSD symptoms still hadn’t come back four years later. And that figure of four years is an average– so some had the treatment last even longer (and yes, some shorter).
Sure, you could argue that MDMA can be used to treat many psychological conditions such as depression or ADD, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong. But drugs need to be marketed for specific uses. PTSD probably seemed like the most promising condition to prove the drug’s effectiveness. So after/if it hits the market, researchers can always go back and work on getting the drug approved to treat other conditions.
In fact, the research groups are optimistic that MDMA will be used to treat anxiety in autistic adults some day in the future.
Using MDMA to Treat PTSD
MDMA could be available for clinical use as soon as 2021. But this doesn’t mean you should run out and start stocking up from that random dude you met outside the mall.
MDMA is pretty safe (and effective) when taken under the care of a doctor. It’s also a lot safer when it’s made in a factory that’s subject to FDA regulations and testing. Instead of a stove in that random dude’s basement. Personally, I wouldn’t want my PTSD treatment to include any kind of amphetamine– a common additive to ecstasy typically bought on the street. Plus if something goes wrong, you can always go through a chain of command to collect a settlement from a company. You can’t really sue a random dude for selling you tainted illegal drugs. But that’s exactly why this new FDA approval is a huge deal.
Other than anti-depressants (which as anyone who has taken them knows they don’t always work), there isn’t a whole lot available medication-wise for those suffering from PTSD. That’s why so many suffering turn to self-medication in the form of illegal drugs or alcohol. The potential for MDMA to treat PTSD could change that.
If approved, the drug will be part of a comprehensive multi-tiered psychotherapy treatment program. So not just popping a pill and waiting for your PTSD to go away.