Everything you need to know about MDMA.

What is MDMA?

MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a drug that induces greater feelings of self-awareness and empathy and reduces fear and anxiety. MDMA-assisted therapy is a highly effective and evidence-based approach for treating individuals with treatment-resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This form of therapy combines the pharmacological effects of MDMA with psychotherapy sessions to enhance therapeutic outcomes. The recently published Phase 3 Clinical Trials from MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, showed 88% of patients in the trials had a benefit from treatment and 67% no longer met the criteria for PTSD.

Why MDMA?

Safe

When used in a controlled clinical environment, there are few or minimal side effects reported.

Effective

MDMA-assisted therapy may help individuals with PTSD who have struggled to make progress with other treatments.

Efficient

Some may notice improvements after just one session. However, it’s worth noting that this may vary from person to person.

MDMA for treatment-resistant PTSD.

PTSD causes individuals to relive a traumatic event through recurring memories and flashbacks. This can cause intense physical and emotional reactions, interfering with daily life.

MDMA helps by reducing the fear and anxiety response and enhancing emotional well-being, as well as facilitating positive changes in brain areas involved in emotional processing. This can contribute to less reactivity to traumatic memories or flashbacks. It can also enhance the therapeutic relationship, creating a sense of trust and safety.

Prior to the 1970s and 80s, MDMA was used in therapeutic settings for couples counselling and PTSD. However, the use of MDMA was prohibited in the 1980s, putting its therapeutic uses on the backburner. It wasn’t until recent decades that there’s been a resurgence in curiosity and research regarding the beneficial use of MDMA in therapeutic contexts.

Although MDMA is still illegal in Canada, it can be prescribed by physicians under special circumstances.

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is a promising treatment for those struggling with PTSD.

MDMA is currently not legally available in Canada outside of the special access program. The use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is under review by the US FDA is expected to become legally prescribable after August 2024, with Canada following suit sometime thereafter.

Frequently asked questions.

While not a classic psychedelic, MDMA is often categorized as such. Technically, it’s categorized as an empathogen–entactogen with minor psychedelic effects.

  • As with any drug, there are always risks involved. These are less when used in a controlled, clinical, and supervised environment. Whether side effects occur or not often varies from individual to individual. Yet, these are minimized in therapeutic uses of MDMA. Patient safety is always top of mind.
  • Used under supervision, MDMA is categorized as a non-addictive drug.

A 2021 controlled phase 3 clinical trial sponsored by MAPS, the Multi-Disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, showed 88% of patients had a clinically meaningful symptom improvement, with 67% no longer having PTSD after having gone through the treatment.

A 2023 controlled phase 3 clinical trial concluded that participants with moderate to severe PTSD had reduced PTSD symptoms and functional impairments, with the treatment being well-tolerated.

MDMA is associated with feelings of calm, euphoria, openness, empathy, and heightened sensory perception. Many report:

  • Reduced fear
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased emotional openness
  • Enhanced empathy
  • Increased overall well-being
  • Optimism
  • Increased energy

Physical side effects might include nausea, muscle tension, chills, sweating, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure. These effects are monitored by your clinical team to ensure optimal safety.

For those prone to nausea, anti-nausea medication may be provided beforehand to reduce these effects.