New research suggests the use of the party drug ecstasy may be effective for treating post-traumatic stress disorder when used alongside psychotherapy, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported. A follow-up study conducted by the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) looked at the long-term benefits for participants in a clinical trial conducted more than three years earlier.
MAPS researchers in South Carolina used MDMA, which is more commonly known as ecstasy, during closely monitored 8 to 10 hour long psychotherapy sessions. The earlier research by the California non-profit found that that 83 percent of 20 participants — including multiple victims of sexual assault and one veteran — receiving the MDMA-assisted therapy no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis two months after treatment, according to Stars and Stripes.
Nineteen patients participated in the follow-up study, with 84 percent showing few to no symptoms of PTSD today, MAPS said. The study’s results were published last week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
With these new results, the U.S. military is now testing the treatment on military veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD, according to Stars and Stripes.
The treatment could help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cope with the financial cost of post-combat PTSD. The agency spent about $5.5 billion on PTSD disability payments to some 275,000 veterans in 2011, according to the Stars and Stripes report.