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MDMA Could Help Cure Alcohol Addiction

May 10, 2021
Clinical Trials
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A recent study on the effects of MDMA helping treat alcohol addiction has uncovered some interesting evidence to likely support the claim. Ben Sessa led this study out of Imperial College London. MDMA-assisted therapy is rising as a new alternative treatment option to common mental health disorders, most commonly for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA-assisted therapy has helped patients reach new or different segments of the mind to assist them in working through trauma without the normal reactions that they would have to it. This study involved fourteen people who suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD) who had to finish a ten-day detox to cancel their alcohol use before the study. They then received an eight-week course of therapy based on their recovery and two sessions with MDMA (187.5 mg each session). Safety was also monitored throughout the study, along with mental outcomes.

MDMA Clinical Trials

There have been several MDMA clinical trials, mainly to treat people with chronic PTSD. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has administered FDA-regulated trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to highlight the benefits of psychedelic treatment. These past clinical trials have shown significant improvement in patients with PTSD and show promising evidence for MDMA studies that involve addiction. The study conducted on MDMA effects on alcohol addiction was the first of its kind, so analyzing the results can be hard due to not having anything such as a "control" group to compare results with. Within the coming years, there are projected to be more studies on alcohol addiction and MDMA therapy that will further help understand more information on how the two can affect one another.

Alcoholism and Trauma

The mentality behind the MDMA study in helping people with alcohol addiction used the mindset that many alcohol addictions come from previous life trauma, so why not attempt to use MDMA to help work through this trauma. In an article published by Free Think, they explained that over a video call, Sessa stated, "We know that alcoholism has high levels of trauma, so we put two and two together, and said 'let us try MDMA for alcoholism" (Sagepub Link). Some of the concerns that came along with such a new study, such as this one, involved whether or not the MDMA could safely treat alcohol addiction with minimal side effects or with side effects that would be tolerable. The idea that MDMA could potentially treat alcohol addiction due to trauma is very promising. Because so many studies have shown the effects that MDMA-assisted therapy can have on trauma or on expanding the brain's way of thinking, we can see that the likeliness of it working on treating alcohol-related trauma is quite high. It is just a matter of testing to see if the wanted results can be done safely and attainable for patients.

MDMA Found Safe, Tolerable, and Possibly Effective

After the study was completed, the results showed that all patients well-tolerated MDMA treatment. These results are promising in the sense that no unexpected side effects made an appearance in the study, further supporting the idea that MDMA could be a potential treatment for alcohol use disorder. Another positive result that the study noted was a lack of post-ecstasy depressive crash in which people who are using MDMA recreationally often deal with. While this is just an idea and could be affected by several different outside factors, it is a positive result from the study that can be noted for future studies. During the follow-up period after the study, the average units of alcohol consumed per subject were 18.7 units per week instead of 130.6/week before treatment. While these results seem positive, it is hard to conclude since they cannot tell whether the decrease in drinking is from the MDMA or any outside factors. While there are positive conclusions, more guaranteed results will begin to come through when more studies are conducted.

The Future of Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a hard thing to grapple with. Alcohol addiction can have many underlying folds that can affect how long someone has to deal with an addiction. Many people begin to hit walls after trying different treatments, especially when they see no change with so many treatment options available. Alternative addiction treatments are beginning to be made more available to people; in specific more psychedelic therapy options show significant recovery in many addiction treatment studies and trials. The future of addiction treatment is promising, but nothing can move forward without more results. With results from MDMA and alcohol studies in specific projected to be circulating in the next three years, we will be able to see an incline in alternative addiction treatment results and facts to evaluate if they are worth it or not. Overall, the future of addiction treatment and the future of medicine is changing quickly and offering so many new and efficient ways of treating addiction so that everyone has a promising path to recovery.

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