Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2017
Source: New York Post (NY)
Copyright: 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
Author:  Nick McDermott


Taking party drug ecstasy may help boozers break their addiction to

Scientists are set to carry out the first ever trial to see whether
the controlled substance can help treat heavy drinkers.

A group of patients from England will be given two doses of MDMA --
another name for ecstasy -- over the course of two months.

The trial has just received approval from regulators in the United

It is the first in the world to use ecstasy to treat alcohol

Scientists believe the drug can help patients deal with underlying
stress and trauma that often lies behind addiction.

It is part of a growing push to use psychoactive drugs like LSD and
psilocybin -- the active ingredient in magic mushrooms -- as potential
medical treatments.

But the study is likely to face a backlash from anti-drugs

Lead researcher Ben Sessa, a clinical psychiatrist and senior research
fellow at Imperial College London, said: "Current alcohol treatment is
so poor at the moment, but it is all we have got, so we are looking
for new tools to help patients. We know that MDMA works really well in
helping people who have suffered trauma and it helps to build empathy."

"Many of my patients who are alcoholics have suffered some sort of
trauma in their past and this plays a role in their addiction."

Speaking at the Breaking Convention conference on psychedelic drugs
Sessa said the trial will involve 20 alcoholics.

They will be given eight weekly sessions of psychotherapy. In two of
these, the patients will also be given a dose of MDMA.

Sessa is leading the trial along with Professor David Nutt, a former
government chief drugs adviser.

The pair are also waiting for approval on a second trial that will see
sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder given MDMA.

Tests in the US have suggested the drug can be effective when used in
combination with psychotherapy.

Sessa said patients will be closely monitored after taking the

He said: "There will probably not be much progress made in the session
where the patients take MDMA, but it is in the subsequent sessions
that will make a difference."

Despite the tight regulatory controls on ecstasy -- which is involved
in 50 deaths each year -- the biggest problem they had was
manufacturing the drug.

Ecstasy pills may be available for just a few dollars on the street,
but it's costing over $80,000 to get 12 grams of pharmaceutical grade

A spokesman for the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory
Agency said: "This clinical trial has received both a positive
benefit/risk assessment by the MHRA and also received a positive
opinion from an ethics committee allowing it to go ahead in the UK."
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MAP posted-by: Matt