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ARTICLE | What you need to know : MAPS and their MDMA trials.

by Bill Kovski October 07, 2016 0 Comments

ARTICLE | What you need to know : MAPS and their MDMA trials.

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The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies believes that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could be legal by 2021. 

Phase 2 of 
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ MDMA-assisted psychotherapy study is coming to an end, and so this spring, MAPS plans to meet with the FDA to plan the Phase 3 clinical trials, which could lead to MDMA being prescribed.

Treating PTSD Infographic

Here are 9 things you need to know. About MAPS and their MDMA trials according to Brad Burge, MAPS’ director of Communications

1. The Phase 2 study
has treated 136 people, and Phase 3 will involve 200-400 subjects with PTSD from all sorts of causes across the U.S., Canada, and a lot of different countries. Phase 3 starts around 2017, and it will take four to five years to finish. So that will put it at early 2021 for FDA approval.

2. So far MAPS has looked at PTSD with veterans, police officers, fire fighters who were first responders at 9/11, marines, the army, air force, and other military groups. Another major group of people were female survivors of sexual abuse or assault.

3. Unlike LSD or psilocybin, MDMA, under an administered dose does not form powerful visual-audio hallucinations or out of body experiences.  MDMA also tends to cause a feeling of what a lot of people call cosmic interconnectedness, a sense of loss of self, or a deeper connection with their immediate environment. Instead of travelling to a different dimension like you might on LSD or DMT, you stay quite grounded on MDMA and so you can become quite aware of the psychological trauma that you are carrying.

4. MDMA has a direct effect on the amygdala that other psychedelics don’t seem to have. MDMA affects the part of the brain that’s mostly responsible for fear, the flight or fight response. With people who have PTSD, their amygdala is hyperactive. MDMA directly reduces that; we see it in MRI brain imaging. So when people are recalling their trauma in the context of a therapy session, they don’t freak out at that same level of chemical activation. I like to call it a “chemical security blanket,” because people remain self-aware even while they’re talking about their difficult state.

5. MDMA-assisted therapy is being conducted for autistic adults with social anxiety, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people with anxiety related to life-threatening illnesses.

6. The negative side effects from patients using MDMA can be acute nervousness or anxiety during the psychotherapy session. This is because the drug is bringing out the effects of PTSD.  There’s also heightened cardiovascular activity - you might get a slightly higher heart rate or a slightly higher blood pressure level.  Out of the 136 subjects who were treated in the Phase 2 studies, only one 50-year-old male had an elevated heart rate.

7. MAPS is talking about 23 million dollars to complete the development of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and is currently the only organization in the world funding clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

8. For the first time, clinical research results are providing hard data showing that, used carefully and in the right settings, MDMA and other psychedelics can dramatically enhance the effectiveness of therapy for PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

9. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is an extremely promising treatment for PTSD, and the PTSD epidemic among veterans, sexual assault survivors, and others. Future leaders will need to choose science over politics when making determinations about which treatments should be made available for people suffering from PTSD.

Bill Kovski
Bill Kovski