How Clinical Trials Are Making the Case for MDMA in Psychotherapy

In an interview at Exponential Medicine in San Diego, speaker Brad Burge discussed the innovative applications of MDMA in psychotherapy. Burge is the director of strategic communications at non-profit MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).
Historically, MDMA has been known as a psychedelic drug and was criminalized in 1985. Because of this, we mostly hear about its use recreationally, yet most recreational variations of the drug are in fact much different than pure MDMA. This also means the effects of pure MDMA compared with recreational varieties are drastically different.
“MDMA expands awareness and produces feelings of trust and intimacy. It also reduces fear. All these things could make it really helpful for psychotherapy,” Burge said.
Only recently, Burge explained, is the drug entering medical studies. MAPS is creating programs to do this and to blend psychotherapy with supervised administration of MDMA.
“This is not a ‘take three pills and call me in the morning’ kind of situation,” Burge said, “At no point will people go to the pharmacist, for example, and pick up a bunch of MDMA and go home and try it…Rather, this is a 12-week course with introductory psychotherapy sessions and then MDMA combined with psychotherapy in whole-day treatments.”
MAPS is currently working to push MDMA through FDA approval and is aiming to enter Phase 3 trials in spring of 2018.