Ecstasy and Post-Traumatic Stress


I just stumbled upon this astonishing article describing the results of clinical trials in the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for sufferers of post-traumatic stress. The results were published in the very serious Journal of Psychopharmacology, which unfortunately charges $32.00 for access to the full article, a price that exceeds my commitment to closely examining the study’s methodological protocols. If the results of the study have been correctly reported, however, it seems that after Ecstasy-therapy,

over [sic] 80% of sufferers from post traumatic stress disorder no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as compared to only 25% in the control group … there were no drug-related serious adverse effects, adverse neurocognitive effects, or clinically significant blood pressure increases.

Now, this is just one study, and as I said, I haven’t read it; I’ve only looked at the abstract. But if this report is right and these results can be replicated, it would be criminal, it would be absolutely obscene, to deny veterans access to this kind of therapy out of some misplaced scruple about the corrosive effect of Ecstasy on our society’s moral fiber–and you just know that objection is coming.

The difference reported between the control and the therapy group is staggering. This is way better than the results usually obtained with even the most widely-lauded and popular psychopharmaceutical drugs. We cannot send men and women into combat to defend our country and then deny them continued research into such a promising treatment for the emotional wounds so many of them have incurred on our behalf–and if it works, they must have access to it if they want it.

As Ricochet’s resident drug-culture advocate, I’ll also note (in the spirit of combatting hypocrisy and cant) that sure, I’ve used Ecstasy, and sure, I loved that, too. I didn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder, but based on my experiences, I can see why it might help with that. This one’s hard to explain, but it has a logic that I assume other people who have used it will understand.

I’ll hold off on advocating complete decriminalization until more research on Ecstasy’s long-term effects comes through. It’s not as widely studied a drug as marijuana, and I wouldn’t be as comfortable saying, confidently, “It’s basically harmless.” The research needs to be done, though, especially given the number of people who use it. And this research on PTSD is amazing: I hope these results are solid, and if they are, I hope everyone who needs this kind of therapy will be able to get it with no insane political obstacles placed in their way.

There are 6 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Member

    Couldn’t the problems associated with legalizing Ecstacy for medical reasons be solved by more-effectively writing the law? These medical marijuana laws have resulted in de facto legal pot. Why must this be so? We need to figure this out: How do we write these laws such that they accomplish that which they are ostensibly designed to accomplish? Once we master that, then we can move on to Ecstasy, cocaine, or whatever. I’m sure they all have their uses medically, but we gotta be able to do better than the “medical marijuana” dude-it’s-legal-now law-drafting.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Editor

    I don’t know why the laws that govern the medical use of other potential recreational drugs wouldn’t work–morphine, Percodan, etc.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member

    Me neither; seems a no-brianer. And yet these pot laws are–in practice–a joke, an obvious ruse. A setback, really, since they give reasonable people perfectly justified concerns over what should be sound advancements in medicine. It’s all so unnecessary.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Thatcher


    I have a PDF of the article (one of the benefits of doing research at an academic medical center). I’d be happy to send it to you as an attachment. I haven’t read it, so I can’t say anything about the scientific rigor. I’ll try to get to it later, but more likely over the weekend. Meanwhile, how do I send it to you?

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Editor

    Thank you!

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Thatcher

    It has been sent. Sorry for the delay.

    • #6
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.