People suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced lasting benefits from MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, according to a new long-term follow-up study published online November 20 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
This follow-up study extends the outstanding results of the initial study, published in 2010, which found that 83% of those receiving MDMA-assisted psychotherapy no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis two months after treatment. The long-term follow-up, conducted an average of 45 months (over 3.5 years) after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, showed that these remarkable benefits were sustained over time.
For PTSD patients and their treatment providers, these long-term findings are even more promising than the initial results.
"With such encouraging data, including evidence of long-term effectiveness after only two or three MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions, there is now no doubt that this research should be expanded to larger clinical trials," said Dr. Michael Mithoefer, the study's principal investigator.
Subjects included survivors of sexual assault and abuse and a military veteran. None of these subjects had responded adequately to existing psychotherapies and drug treatments for PTSD. Subjects had suffered from PTSD for an average of over 19 years.
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy combines psychotherapy with the administration of MDMA, which can enhance the therapeutic process by reducing fear associated with traumatic memories and by strengthening the therapeutic alliance between the participant and the therapists.
"MDMA-assisted psychotherapy helped me move past that feeling of needing to be in control," one subject reported. "I felt like me, probably for the first time. That was what I'd been looking for: the feeling that I was OK."
The follow-up study found no evidence of harm associated with the administration of MDMA. Additionally, no subject developed a substance abuse problem with any illicit drug after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)