Supplementing psychotherapy with small doses of MDMA could be an effective strategy to prevent relapses of alcohol addiction in patients, an ongoing small clinical trial suggests.
MDMA-assisted therapy is actually an old idea, which enjoyed some popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.
Though the exact mechanisms are unclear, the synthetic drug’s euphoric effects are thought to amplify the positive patterns of thinking taught by therapy, as well as make people feel less anxious during sessions.
Of course, these same mood-boosting attributes made MDMA a popular recreational drug.
More recently, though, researchers and organisations such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) have slowly but successfully lobbied governments to reconsider the blanket ban on MDMA.
In the UK, the first Phase I clinical trial for MDMA-assisted therapy as a treatment for alcohol use disorder has been going on since 2018, led by researchers from the Imperial College London.