Welcome to another Medication Monday, the weekly series that examines mental health medications and some of the issues around them. Today, we are examining methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, better known by its street names of ecstasy or molly.
First things first, MDMA used in a therapeutic setting is different from MDMA you might by on the street. On the street, there is no control and there might very well be additives that make the medication far more dangerous. In a therapeutic setting however, the medication would be verified and reliable.
More importantly, therapeutic use of MDMA has shown results that suggest that it makes individuals more relaxed and more open to other forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy.
In recent studies, researchers have looked at the therapeutic use of MDMA in mice. Data are suggesting that it makes subjects more sociable. Researchers also looked at whether adjusting the dose could make the application of MDMA less addictive and more therapeutic, with results still pending.
The reason MDMA may work therapeutically for mental health conditions is because it prompts the body to produce serotonin, which could have therapeutic effects not just for anxiety, but for other mental health conditions such as depression.
However, the use of MDMA therapeutically clearly comes with some risks, most notably, the risk of abuse and addiction. This is why more research is needed. It is important to note that that research needs to happen in a stigma-free vacuum. Preconceptions of MDMA as nothing more than a party drug could sink beneficial research before the data are fully able to be analyzed and reported.
With any luck, therapeutic MDMA research will continue to head in the right direction, although, ultimately only time will tell.