MDMA Could Be An Effective Treatment for Alcoholism, Study Suggests

Researchers in the United Kingdom are in the middle of a Phase I clinical trial to investigate if MDMA could be used as a therapeutic treatment for alcohol use disorder.  Led by researchers at the Imperial College London, this first-of-its-kind study intends to find a safe and optimal dose for MDMA in alcohol interventions. 

MDMA might be more well-known as a party drug, these days, but it has been around for several decades.  As a matter of fact, medical investigation of MDMA—as a potential treatment for a handful of psychological, emotional, and physiological conditions—began in the 1970s.  While the exact mechanism for the drug’s efficacy is still unclear, the synthetic drug has euphoric effects that scientists believe an amplify the positive patterns of thinking used in various types of therapy. 

Of course, it is this euphoria and mood-boosting properties that made MDMA quite a popular recreational drug during the 1970s and 1980s. And that, of course, likely also led to the US government banning the drug in 1985, when it was classified as a Schedule 1 drug (with no accepted medical use).  

Fortunately, new research has reinvigorated interest in taking better medical advantage of MDMA’s potentially mood-boosting properties. New research from organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies have been lobbying—for quite some time—to lower this blanket ban on MDMA. And largely this effort has been to allow for more testing and study, particularly as a PTSD treatment. 

In regards to alcoholism, though, Imperial College London senior research fellow Ben Sessa comments of the 11 volunteers who have received the treatment, only one has relapsed into alcohol use.  The addiction psychiatrist goes on to say, “We have five people who are completely dry and we have four or five who have had one or two drinks but wouldn’t reach the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.”