MDMA is another wonder drug of the psychedelic renaissance that not so long ago parents dreaded to hear about. That was because what their kids were buying was cut with very nasty chemicals and they didn’t really know what they were getting into. Change is in the air.
The pure stuff originally came from Merck, the German pharmaceutical giant, when looking for a solution to blood clotting in 1912. They developed pure 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), more commonly known today as Molly, Ecstasy or Millennial aspirin. It didn’t work as intended and so was shelved.
Alexander (Shasha) Shulgin, a research scientist for Dow Chemical and now known as the godfather of Ecstasy, took it back off the shelf, so to speak, in 1965. It was then realized as fantastic assistance in psychotherapy sessions in the early 1970’s.
Rick Doblin discovered MDMA and it’s therapeutic benefits in 1982 while MDMA-Assisted therapy was still legal. When MDMA got caught up in the ridiculous war on drugs, he went on to found the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a nonprofit that funds research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in 1986. He’s been pushing for MDMA’s legalization ever since and it’s now about to come full circle – at least he’s 80% sure this “gift to the world” could happen by 2021.
Why MDMA-Assisted Therapy?
Current treatment for PTSD involves Prolonged Exposure (PE) in which a patient continually describes the trauma, session after session in hopes of becoming desensitized to it. This is quite inhumane, often resulting in re-traumatizing the patient and leading to a high dropout rate from therapy.
The results are just the opposite with MDMA-Assisted therapy and an experience with MDMA is unlike the usual trip associated with psychedelics. There’s not a lot of hallucinations or out-of-body experiences going on. It generates empathy and trust among its users, and stimulates the production of oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that make people more loving, peaceful and connected.
It is also known to affect the amygdala in the brain, which is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response to trauma. People who have PTSD have a hyperactive amygdala and MDMA slows that down, helping them separate the past from the present.
When using MDMA, people who are recalling their trauma in a therapy session remain grounded, more self-aware and objective. In 2-3 sessions, they can get to the root of problem and reduce their symptoms for years to come, if not permanently.
In the meantime
With Phase 3 clinical trials running now in the summer of 2018, Doblin hopes MDMA-Assisted therapy will be an FDA-approved treatment by 2021.
For now and as always, there is a compassionate underground community that goes against the law but with the best intentions to provide MDMA-Assisted therapy for those whose time/sanity may be running out.