Treating alcohol addiction with the use of another drug? The world’s first study with the party drug MDMA has yielded “incredible” results, according to British researchers.
As part of a study in Bristol, 14 people with alcohol problems participated in ten psychological sessions over eight weeks. During two of these sessions, the participants were administered small doses of MDMA, the active ingredient in the popular night-time drug ecstasy or ecstasy.
After the MDMA sessions, the patients stayed overnight in the research center. Then they were called every day for a week to check their sleep quality, mood and potential suicide risk. In addition, no indications of withdrawal symptoms were found in this study.
Nine months after the psychological sessions with MDMA, 21 percent of those enrolled in the study consumed more than 14 units of alcohol per week, compared with 75 percent of the participants who received conventional treatment. Before the therapy they drank an average of about 130 units per week.
“MDMA turns off the brain’s anxiety center,” said lead investigator Ben Sessa of Imperial College London, who led the study. “That allows the patient to think about painful, traumatic memories that they would normally avoid. It basically allows you to participate in psychotherapy that you normally wouldn’t be able to do. ”
“The potential is enormous,” added Sessa, “almost all of my patients with alcoholism have a history of trauma.”
With the study, the researchers mainly wanted to check whether the treatment was well tolerated and safe enough. But the MDMA sessions had a positive effect on the drinking behavior of most of the participants months later. Of the 14 participants who received MDMA, 11 of them drank less than 14 units of alcohol per week nine months later. Nine of them stopped touching glass.
“This is the antithesis of the current drug prescription model – we used this drug twice as part of the psychotherapy to cure the patient so that they don’t have to take drugs for the rest of their lives,” added Sessa. “So from a marketing perspective this is a disaster.”