MDMA Therapy For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Could Be Legal In US Within Years

by : Emily Brown on : 21 May 2021 18:28
MDMA Therapy For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Could Be Legal In US Within YearsPA Images

Though many people are only just getting their heads around the benefits of legal marijuana, some advocates are looking ahead to the legalisation of MDMA to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Researchers have been delving into the potential clinical uses of a number of drugs for some time now, with studies exploring whether often-scorned substances such as LSD and ketamine could be used to treat conditions like addiction, depression or anxiety.


One such body of research focuses on MDMA, which is commonly known as ecstasy, E, or molly, and its treatment for chronic PTSD that is otherwise treatment-resistant.

MDMA (PA Images)PA Images

A pilot study conducted in 2011 saw beneficial results, with 10 out of 12 participants who ingested MDMA no longer meeting the criteria for PTSD following the treatment, which also involved professional guidance. Findings of Phase 2 trials, cited by Vice, later indicated that ‘MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was efficacious and well tolerated in a large sample of adults with PTSD’.

The use of MDMA to help treat PTSD gained further recognition in 2017, when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially designated the drug a ‘breakthrough therapy’ for the condition.


Phase 3 trials found that more than two-thirds of participants who ingested MDMA during talk therapy sessions no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD within two months of the experiment, compared to fewer than a third who achieved similar results after taking a placebo.

Counselling session (Pexels)Pexels

Speaking to Vice about the results, Jennifer M. Mitchell, the lead author of the study, explained that we are ‘in desperate need of better therapeutics’ for the millions of people who suffer from PTSD, stress, anxiety and depression.

Discussing her hopes for the experiment, she commented:


The hope is that these data could potentially lead to the legalization of a psychedelic medicine for the treatment of PTSD, and that this could pave the way for research on the efficacy of other psychedelic compounds for any number of indications.

Data suggest that MDMA acts to reopen a critical period, and that this may enable new learning about past traumas and therefore can provide one with the opportunity to process and release them.

Ecstasy pill (PA Images)PA Images

Mitchell stressed that the results of the study are not based solely on the use of MDMA, but the chemical effects of the drug in combination with professional guidance.

MDMA alone has not been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for any condition, and experts have made clear that self-medicating with street-grade ecstasy is not recommended.


On the back of the previous results, a second Phase 3 trial into the efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy is currently underway. If successful, then it is possible the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could approve the substance for therapeutic use by 2023.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Health, Ecstasy, Mental Health, PTSD


  1. Vice

    MDMA Therapy for PTSD Could Be Legal by 2023. A DIY Culture is Already Thriving.