Using MDMA to Treat Trauma
We’re at an interesting time in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse. We’re trying things that many haven’t even considered in the past–and they’re showing promising results.
Specifically, I’m talking about the use of plant medicine psychedelics–what used to be illicit drugs–in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse conditions.
Can Ecstasy Help with Mental Health?
I find it so ironic, MDMA, which is commonly known as ecstasy or molly, is being recognized as therapy.
Kids, including me, prior to getting sober, are running around and dancing on this stuff. Man, I felt bad about it, like I shouldn’t be taking this stuff, it’s bad for me. But, man, it just felt so good because when you take ecstasy or molly or whatever it would feel like love. It’s just you feel loved.
On one end it’s a drug. But on the other hand, it feels like love.
So it’s an interesting time now, they’re bringing what used to be a street drug to give people the experience of feeling loved as a way to heal…and that’s all MDMA does.
MDMA and PTSD
MAPS right now, I think they’re in their third clinical trial. Currently, you can legally use MDMA in the United States for the treatment of trauma. The study they did was on veterans with PTSD. MDMA was by far the most powerful treatment that they found for treating complex PTSD for veterans.
I don’t recall the exact statistics, you can look them up, but it was something like 70% of people that did the pre-therapy sessions, MDMA sessions, and the follow-up sessions no longer met the criteria for PTSD.
I think it’s a total of five sessions totaling 10 hours. The MDMA sessions, I think, are four to six hours.
Ten hours. Do you know how hard it is to treat PTSD with other methods?
I’ve tried to help people, I have a treatment program for PTSD. It’s incredibly difficult. It takes years. But MDMA could, within a couple of weeks or so, be effective enough where you don’t meet the criteria for PTSD anymore.
What’s happening in that experience? There’s some technical interesting stuff happening with the brain and the amygdala so you don’t feel so defensive and you’re able to be in your body and feel comfortable and safe…so that’s interesting.
I was a kid and I took ecstasy when I was 15 years old. I remember the feeling. It was love. I could produce a feeling of love that heals my PTSD with another person that’s there holding the container for me in a therapeutic way. So I find that very exciting.
Drawbacks of MDMA as Therapy?
I’m conservative about all of this stuff because I know human beings find great ways to fuck things up. We can take a good thing and fuck it up.
So, on the one hand, I’m involved in the discourse and the conversation about these medicines coming into recovery, which is tricky. What does it mean to be in recovery by possibly using MDMA for trauma treatment? I don’t think it’ll be as complicated as it sounds, but it will be a little bit complicated.
MDMA can be addictive, although it’s not many people’s drug of choice. You can definitely overdo it and there are risk factors to doing too much MDMA. It’s largely around serotonin or serotonin syndrome and probably other issues that we’re not even aware of.
I’m excited about combining a drug like MDMA with therapy. Because recently–I’d say in the last 60 years–those two fields have been kind of split.
Integrating Medications and Therapy
You go to see a psychiatrist and ask for medication. They give you a prescription, and, hopefully, you’re on your way.
You go to a therapist and they’re doing therapy with you. They don’t prescribe medications, just more therapy.
So something people are talking about with this plant medicine MDMA stuff is bringing medications and therapy together. You do the medication. You do the therapy on the medication. That’s kind of cool. It’s a new way of integrating medications and therapy.
It’s bringing two somewhat distinct fields together in a particular act, for the sake of healing, which I think is worth investigating.
I’m excited about it. I’m always conservative. I’m always like, “Hey, slow down, let’s be careful. Who can this work for? Who can’t this work for?” There’s a lot to talk about with MDMA.
But, in general, I think it’s worth people knowing because these are experiences that can help people heal and transform.
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