Love, connection, and happiness are essential human experiences, however, the weight of our emotions can be overwhelming and at times, create mental health conditions. Mental health issues have become a growing concern around the globe, and people are searching for new ways to treat them.
One such way is MDMA therapy. Also known as ecstasy, MDMA has gained immense attention over the past few years. MDMA therapy is a new form of psychotherapy that has shown promising results in treating various mental health conditions. It has shown the potential to heal the deepest emotional wounds and provide lasting relief from stress, anxiety and depression.
What is MDMA Therapy?
MDMA therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, aka ecstasy or molly) as an adjunct to talk therapy. This MDMA-assisted therapy involves a trained therapist who administers a controlled dose of MDMA to a patient in a therapeutic setting and facilitates emotional openness and introspection in patients with mental health issues.
Why is MDMA Therapy Gaining Popularity?
MDMA therapy is gaining popularity for multiple reasons, including its potential to help individuals suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. MDMA-assisted therapy is basically a type of talk therapy and it has shown promising results in helping people break through mental barriers and relieve their stress.
Moreover, MDMA therapy has the ability to create a sense of emotional openness and empathy, ultimately making it easier for individuals to connect with the MDMA therapist and process their emotions. This therapy is beneficial, especially for those who find it difficult to express their feelings to others.
As research studies continue to produce positive results from MDMA therapy as a new breakthrough therapy, it has been gaining popularity and more and more people are becoming aware of MDMA therapy as a mental health treatment option.
How MDMA Affects the Brain?
MDMA is a synthetic drug that alters brain chemistry and enhances the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters result in regulating mood, emotions, and social behaviour. MDMA affects the brain by binding to serotonin transporters, which causes an increase in the release of serotonin, and makes you feel euphoria and empathy. A greater release of serotonin and norepinephrine causes the regulation of mood, sleep, appetite, pain, and other behaviours.
Risks and Side Effects of MDMA therapy
MDMA therapy has shown promising results, however, there are some risks and side effects associated with it. Some common side effects include:
Elevated Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Loss of Consciousness
Differences Between Recreational Use and Therapeutic Use
There are two ways MDMA is used: recreational use and therapeutic use. It’s important to know the difference between the two. When one takes the MDMA drug at a party or in social settings, it’s called the recreational use of MDMA. However, when MDMA is involved in a controlled clinical setting under the guidance of a trained therapist to cure mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, it refers to the therapeutic use of MDMA.
Recreational use is associated with various risks and negative consequences while therapeutic use has been shown to be effective in treating mental health issues.
The Science Behind MDMA Therapy
The mechanism of the reaction of MDMA is yet to be fully understood, but this drug is known to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine when one consumes it. They play a crucial role in regulating mood, emotions, and social behaviour. After consuming MDMA you get a sense of euphoria, empathy, and connectedness with others.
According to studies, MDMA has powerful neurohormonal effects that increase the hormone levels of cortisol, oxytocin, testosterone, and more. The oxytocin released may facilitate psychotherapy while on the contrary, cortisol may increase stress. During therapy, there is an increase in neural activity that helps you process and integrate traumatic experiences in a more productive way.
There are various potential benefits of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy and the most common ones are:
Increased empathy and connectedness with others.
Reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Enhanced creativity and insight.
Improved communication and relationship dynamics.
What is MDMA Therapy used for?
The use of MDMA in psychotherapy dates back to the 1970s when therapists noticed its potential to enhance communication, trust, and empathy between two patients. However, its use for mental health therapy was largely discontinued due to concerns over its recreational use and abuse.
However, in recent years, researchers and mental health professionals have reignited interest in MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for its potential therapeutic benefits.
Use of MDMA in therapy is nowadays widely used to treat a range of mental health conditions including:
MDMA for PTSD
MDMA assisted therapy has shown positive results in treating PTSD. As per the studies, MDMA therapy can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms such as hyperarousal, flashbacks, and avoidance.
MDMA for Anxiety and Depression
MDMA assisted therapy has a promising impact when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. It can potentially reduce anxiety and depression and improve overall well-being.
MDMA for Addiction
MDMA assisted therapy has also been used as the treatment for addiction, particularly for substances such as alcohol and opioids. It has the potential to reduce cravings, ultimately improving treatment outcomes.
MDMA for End-of-Life Anxiety
MDMA assisted therapy is also widely used as a potential treatment for end-of-life anxiety, especially in those with terminal illnesses. It has shown promising results in reducing anxiety and improving the quality of life.
MDMA for Grief Therapy
MDMA assisted therapy is also being used for the treatment of grief and bereavement. MDMA-assisted therapies can help people process and integrate feelings of grief in a more productive way.
MDMA for Trauma
MDMA assisted therapy is also used to cure various types of trauma, including childhood trauma, sexual assault, and military trauma, and improve overall functioning.
MDMA for Couples Counselling
MDMA assisted couples therapy is also being used as a tool for couples counselling, particularly for couples who have experienced trauma or difficulty communicating. It has been shown to improve communication, emotional regulation, and relationship satisfaction in couples.
Is MDMA Therapy legal?
Besides Canada, MDMA is permitted in a range of nations worldwide including Israel and Switzerland. According to a report published by Nature in April 2023, the United States may soon approve MDMA therapy.
- Current legal status of MDMA assisted therapy
- Possibility of future legalisation
- Controversies and ethical concerns
- MDMA clinical trials
MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy is currently legal in Canada only within the context of approved clinical trials. However, Health Canada has announced a number of clinical trials to explore the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy.
The results of clinical trials have been promising, and there is a growing interest in the potential of MDMA therapy as a treatment for various mental health conditions. If the trials continue to show positive results, it is possible that use of MDMA in therapy could be continued to be legalised for clinical use in the future.
Several clinical trials are currently underway in Canada to investigate the safety and efficacy of MDMA therapy for various mental health conditions. Health Canada itself closely monitors these trials to ensure the safety of participants and the integrity of the research.
Differences between MDMA Therapy and Traditional Talk Therapy
MDMA therapy differs significantly from traditional talk therapy. While talk therapy typically involves patients discussing their thoughts and feelings with a trained therapist, MDMA therapy goes much deeper. The use of Psychedelic Drugs like MDMA can help patients confront deeply ingrained psychological barriers and reach a level of emotional openness that is difficult to achieve through traditional talk therapy alone.
During MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy, the patient typically lies down, wearing headphones and an eye mask, and focuses on the inner experiences. A therapist sits nearby and provides support and guidance as needed. The therapist administers the MDMA therapy in a carefully controlled environment and closely monitors the patients throughout the experience.
How MDMA Therapy Has Changed Lives?
MDMA therapy had a significant impact on the lives of individuals who underwent the treatment. People struggling with a range of mental health issues, including, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and addiction have reported positive changes in their mental health and overall well-being.
According to a study that the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) conducted on 100 people, after three psychotherapy sessions of MDMA therapy, 56% of participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. Additionally, 68% of them experienced a clinically significant reduction in their respective mental health conditions.
How MDMA Therapy Fits Into the Future of Mental Health Treatment?
As the role of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in treating mental health issues continues to be recognised, it won’t be wrong to say that it is a promising addition to the future of mental health treatment. The potential for MDMA to assist in resolving deeply ingrained trauma, anxiety, and depression offers a unique and effective approach that traditional talk therapy has struggled to achieve. It is hoped that access to MDMA therapy treatment will increase and become more widely available to those in need.
Training and Qualifications Required for Therapist
One needs to complete a graduate-level training program in psychology, social work, or a related field, to become an MDMA therapist in Canada. Additionally, therapists must undergo specialised training in MDMA-assisted therapy techniques, including coursework, supervised clinical experience, and ongoing professional development.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) provides a comprehensive MDMA therapy training program for therapists interested in working with MDMA-assisted therapy. This program involves both in-person and online components, and it includes a series of workshops and supervised clinical experience. MAPS also requires therapists to receive certification in CPR and first aid, as well as training in working with trauma survivors.
MDMA Therapy Certification
MDMA therapy certification is a specialised training program, specially designed for mental health professionals who want to incorporate MDMA-assisted therapy into their practice. The certification program typically includes both theoretical and practical components, including supervised clinical experience with mental health therapy with the assistance of MDMA.
Note: We don’t provide MDMA Assisted Therapy.
MDMA Therapy FAQs
Is MDMA a stimulant?
Yes, MDMA is a synthetic drug that is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens.
Is MDMA Therapy safe?
MDMA Therapy has shown promising results in mental health treatments. However, note that it is not yet approved for widespread use by regulatory bodies. Only licensed therapists are allowed to safely administer MDMA therapy in a controlled clinical setting.
What conditions can be treated with MDMA therapy?
MDMA Therapy has shown promise in treating PTSD, anxiety and depression, addiction, end-of-life anxiety, and trauma-related disorders.