World’s First Trials Of MDMA Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
An article published by The Guardian claims that a trial use of MDMA received approval a few weeks ago. The trial is being led by scientists at Imperial College London. They recruited twenty patients through the recreational drug and alcohol services in Bristol. The trial targets heavy drinkers who have relapsed back into addiction after trying other methods of treatment. The patients will begin by undergoing a physical detox and two standard therapy sessions. Afterward, they receive a high dose of MDMA. During this time they spend time talking to a therapist as well as laying in a state of meditation.
Ben Sessa, a senior research fellow at Imperial College London, said: “the only thing delaying the trial was the delivery of the drug to the hospital.” This was due to a long manufacturing and testing process. The scientists designed this process to make sure that the samples used are 99.99% pure. It was an expensive endeavor as Sessa claimed: “We earmarked £3,500 for our 12g of MDMA [but] we are now looking at £62,000 for the 12g.”
Sessa dismissed the notion that the trial is researching whether or not MDMA can cure alcoholism. The trials are more about using the drug to supplement therapy rather than using it to fight alcohol addiction. Sessa said:
“We know that MDMA works really well in helping people who have suffered trauma and it helps to build empathy. Many of my patients who are alcoholics have suffered some sort of trauma in their past and this plays a role in their addiction…..It’s using drugs to enhance the relationship between the therapist and the patient, and it allows us to dig down and get to the heart of the problems that drive long-term mental illness”
The study comes amidst others testing psychedelics for treatment. Scientists in the US have found that MDMA is effective in treating patients with PTSD. Last year, psilocybin produced “remarkable” results when used by people with advanced cancer suffering from depression and anxiety. Scientists in Britain are also looking into Ketamine use as a treatment for alcoholism. This treatment involves the loss of addiction related memories.
While tests have proven successful, not everyone is in agreement. Others believe that time, researching and funding should go to frontline addiction services. Ed Day, a senior clinical lecturer at King’s College London stated:
“Psychedelics are fascinating substances and have a range of effects that we are nowhere near understanding. Research would be welcome, but it is likely that the benefits would come in treating problems such as post-traumatic stress or severe depression, rather than drug problems per se. I wouldn’t want this issue to distract from the real problems facing drug and alcohol treatment services in England at the moment.”
It’s interesting to see studies researching the supplementary uses and treatments derived from drugs and substances known for recreational use. Though there is much to learn about the medical use of psychedelics, it can only happen through trials like these. Consequently, trials like these open up the conversation about the use of currently illegal substances for future medical purposes.
Source: The Guardian