The Journal of Psychopharmacology found that MDMA in PTSD treatment shows some potential for those who do not respond to conventional treatments. However, as an Orange County drug rehab working with some of the best in the business, we should point out that this doesn’t mean former users should start popping ecstasy like they did in the old days.
The study is based on an admittedly small pool of participants, and similar studies have not corroborated the findings of the Journal. With a sample size of 20(!), that is hardly indicative of the 5.8 million Americans who experience it between the ages of 18-54 in a given year.
Further, the reason they attribute the use of MDMA in PTSD treatment working so well is because it allows a greater level of trust between the patient and the practitioner. However, this can also be accomplished by finding the right person, and spending the time need to develop that relationship. The immediate, drastic and extreme results have rarely worked out well for alcoholics and addicts in the past.
All things being equal, though, the use of drugs like these inherently carries some risk—namely that their use can reawaken the obsession. In this case, there are lots of things that can help reduce stress for PTSD, and finding the right match between a therapist and a patient is essential.
True—sometimes conventional treatments don’t always work. However, since use of MDMA has been shown to also cause depression, this is like the cliché of using a hammer to cure a headache. The last thing a person suffering from PTSD needs is severe depression.
Although this study shows that there is hope in using MDMA in PTSD treatment, these individuals are most likely to be in an extreme minority. Chances are we won’t see people lovingly caress the sofas in their therapists’ offices any time soon. Instead, what it indicates is that there may be potential for other drugs chemically similar.
The study remains anything but cut-and-dry, though. While David Nutt of neuropsychopharmacologist from Imperial College London believes there are no ill effects, others disagree. Also, since the sufferers in the smaller study had struggled with PTSD for an average of 19.5 years, it may not have the same impact as it would on younger people, such as those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Medications are a double-edged sword for the alcoholic or addict. On one hand, they can be the key to being able to find recovery; but on the other, they can also drive those who have found recovery back into the disease.