The drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, can be used to treat alcohol addiction, according to a new study. Researchers are testing out the drug to see if a few doses of it along with psychotherapy can help patients overcome their alcohol addiction. So far, participants who completed the study have had no relapses or issues with their physical or psychological health.
Eight out of 10 alcoholics in England reportedly relapse within three years after undergoing current treatment options available. “With the very best that medical science can work with, 80% of people are drinking within three years post alcohol detox," Dr Ben Sessa, an addiction psychiatrist and senior research fellow at Imperial College London, and who led the trial, told a news portal.
The 11 people who completed the study that included the drug went through the trial for nine months and it also included follow-ups. “We’ve got one person who has completely relapsed, back to previous drinking levels, we have five people who are completely dry and we have four or five who have had one or two drinks but wouldn’t reach the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder,” Sessa told a news portal.
Trauma often in childhood is the root cause in most addiction cases, according to researchers. “MDMA selectively impairs the fear response,” Sessa told a news portal. Adding,“It allows recall of painful memories without being overwhelmed." Sessa further explained: “MDMA psychotherapy gives you the opportunity to tackle rigidly held personal narratives that are based on early trauma. It’s the perfect drug for trauma-focused psychotherapy.”
In the first part of the study, researchers wanted to show that this form of therapy is safe. Medical and psychological tests were conducted. In the third and sixth week of the trial, doses of MDMA were given to the participants. While the drug was in their system participants spend about eight hours with specialists. They were generally lying down during this time and wearing eyeshades and headphones. “We let them lead the sessions as to where they want to go. What comes up comes up, so it’s not very guided by the clinicians,” Sessa told a news portal.
After this session, patients stayed at the clinic for one night and then are contacted every day for one week so researchers can make note of their mood, sleep quality and if there is a suicide risk.“There is no black Monday, blue Tuesday, or whatever ravers call it. In my opinion, that is an artefact of raving. It’s not about MDMA,”Sessa told a news portal about the use of the drug. Adding, “If there was a craze of people going around abusing cancer chemotherapy drugs, you wouldn’t then think: ‘Oh well, it’s not safe to take cancer chemotherapy when doctors give it to you'." Sessa further explained:“Scientists know it’s not dangerous. The Sun newspaper thinks it’s dangerous because the tiny number of fatalities that occur every year all get on their front page.”
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