Ecstasy, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception. Because the drug, also called MDMA, causes a feeling of euphoria as well as very damaging side effects and addiction, it has been classified by the government as illegal since 1985. This decision was made despite the fact that MDMA was used as a tool for psychotherapy in the 1970s.
Now, MDMA is getting the go-ahead for clinical studies by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD, a debilitating mental disorder suffered by combat veterans, victims of violent crime, and first responders, such as police and fire fighters, according to the New York Times. Some initial studies show that the drug, when administered under the guidance of a mental health professional, has had some good effects for PTSD patients who have not responded to conventional medication and therapy. If the clinical trials pan out, MDMA may be available in a clinical setting as early as 2021.
However, some doctors worry that the use of a hitherto illegal recreational drug to treat a debilitating condition may lead to an increase in its abuse. They cite the experience with opioids, widely prescribed for the management of chronic pain. Opioid abuse has become a widespread problem, especially among people who have become accidentally addicted because of a legitimate medical use. MDMA may become addictive if used for too long, resulting in side effects including uncontrolled mood changes and impairment in the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
Still, the use of MDMA may be a boon for people struggling with PTSD who have no other options, if prescribed with care and used in combination with other therapies.
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