How is MDMA Used to Treat Alcohol Addiction?

A recent study on MDMA for alcohol addiction had encouraging results. Doctors in Bristol carried out tests to determine whether psychotherapy combined with several doses of MDMA can assist patients in overcoming alcohol addiction. 

Some patients who have completed the study’s course have not seen any psychological or physical problems and found their addiction to alcoholism was cured.

Past research in England found that 8 out of 10 alcoholics relapse within 3 years when using pre-existing methods of cessation. According to Dr. Ben Sessa, a senior research fellow and addiction psychiatrist at Imperial College in London, with the best medical science available, highlighted that “80% of individuals are taking alcohol within three years after undergoing alcohol detox.”

Eleven individuals have completed the tolerability and safety research, including nine months of follow-up. 

The Outcome

The results broken down showed that:

  • One individual relapsed to previous drinking habits
  • Five completely dry individuals, and
  • Four who took one or two drinks but didn’t reach the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.

This was all explained by Dr. Sessa.

Despite the main focus of the trial being understanding safety concerns of MDMA therapy in patients, the extended follow-up period provided some insights on how long-term drinking levels and behavior were affected.

Sessa notes, that modern psychiatry practice is unsuccessful. 9 out of 10 drinkers who take five bottles of wine every day, relapse within three years at a rate of 90%.

A New Approach

However, this approach is quite different from conventional treatment modalities such as 12 steps. After the patient undergoes alcohol detox, they go through two therapy sessions before receiving MDMA treatment in a day. Parents will take two capsules of 99% pure MDMA, then go through a combination of therapy and meditation by lying down in a quiet place with an eye mask.

Sessa is confident that the new approach will assist in getting to the root cause of substance abuse. The approach uses drugs to build a relationship between patient and therapist. This makes it possible to dig down to the root of all of those issues leading to long-term mental illness. 

Therapeutic relationships are crucial for the recovery journey. 

Patients need to develop empathy which might take time since it’s about sharing traumas that resulted in us interfering with well-being. But when empathy and trust are built, the information can flow easily. 

When that is achieved, you start to heal and embark on a journey to recovery.

New Studies

The new studies have gone beyond MDMA to include drug therapy treatments. Several scientists are using ketamine to treat chemical dependency, and researchers in the United States have discovered MDMA to be a great treatment for PTSD.

Currently, prospective clinics globally are preparing for approval of MDMA/PTSD treatments. They are establishing the infrastructure required in administering different forms of psychedelic therapies for various conditions, such as psilocybin for depression. 

When it comes to MDMA treatment for alcohol addiction, it might still be some years away from being validated clinically. However, the proof-of-concept study is quite a vast research.

Possible Future

As we start to witness a new era of alcohol addiction treatment and recovery, one can only hope it results in sustained sobriety for hundreds. This new possibility of MDMA treatment may help reduce suffering from substance abuse disorders, based on emerging research.