The Case for MDMA-Assisted Alcoholism Treatment

By David Jenison on January 1, 2018

I never visited an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but I'm gonna guess that taking ecstasy is not one of the 12 steps. A British doctor recently suggested that maybe it should be. 

Neuropharmacology published a study in November 2017 that argued for MDMA-assisted treatment for alcohol addiction. Dr. Ben Sessa of Imperial College London wrote, "With its unique receptor profile and a relatively well-tolerated subjective experience of drug effects when used clinically, MDMA Therapy is ideally suited to allow a patient to explore and address painful memories without being overwhelmed by negative effect. Given that alcohol use disorder is so often associated with early traumatic experiences… patients with alcohol use disorder who have undergone a medical detoxification from alcohol might benefit from a course of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy."

Dr. Sessa added that the earliest psychedelic drug therapies actually involved LSD-assisted alcoholism treatment. These studies, which started in the 1950s, ultimately "fell out of favor in the wake of socio-political pressures and cultural changes." Clinical researchers, however, are now giving these drugs a second look. Studies suggest that MDMA, LSD and shrooms might help with a wide range of issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, tobacco addiction, marital problems, crime, migraines and suicide, among others. 

Can MDMA and other psychedelics help with alcohol addiction? Maybe it's worth taking the step to do more research and find out. The alternative, as Dr. Sessa puts it, is to stick with the current slate of treatments that he describes as "poor, with high rates of relapse." 

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