MDMA presented as cure to PTSD, drawing attention from 1 October - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

MDMA presented as cure to PTSD, drawing attention from 1 October victim

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A study examines whether taking a pill and going to therapy twice could cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A study examines whether taking a pill and going to therapy twice could cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A study examines whether taking a pill and going to therapy twice could cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies said it could soon become a reality.

The promise of getting back to normal, is something 1 October Survivor Joseph Ostunio said was the most promising. 

"Some people were watching bullets go into people and wounds would open up," he said about the Route 91 Harvest Festival. "We all do our best to get through the day."

Ostunio wasn't physically injured, but some of his friends were. Ostunio's injuries are the kind a Phase 2 trial using MDMA psychotherapy would cure. 

"We found 68 percent didn't have PTSD anymore after two sessions," Brad Burge with MAPS said. "This is different than saying their symptoms were reduced. No. They did not have PTSD anymore."

Here's how the trial works: For 12 weeks participants go through four psychotherapy sessions that last for eight hours. In the final two sessions, they are given MDMA during their therapy.

"With prescription drugs, you take them every day for years or even forever," Burge said. "With this, they're only taking the drugs two times."

So far with this completion of Phase 2, more than 100 combat veterans, first responders, even rape victims were a part of this double-blind study.  For 68 percent, after the two sessions of MDMA assisted therapy they no longer met the criteria to be diagnosed with PTSD. Furthermore, those symptoms never came back after a year. 

"PTSD is associated with suffering, mental illness, even suicide," Burge said. "It is absolutely essential to get this moving forward as fast as possible."

There are of course some concerns about this study because it includes MDMA, whose street name is "Molly" or "Ecstasy." MDMA is a schedule one drug with a high potential for abuse. The street version of MDMA is dangerous, and can be laced with other chemicals. 

MAPS said the MDMA they use is created solely for therapy and is the purest form. Burge admits though with any drug prescription or not, there are side effects. 

"We are looking at risks and side effects of this treatment. We've treated 100 people there are no cognitive issues, or brain impairment and these people don't go out seeking the MDMA after the therapy," Burge said. 

As for whether or not making MDMA available for therapy has any correlation to it being abused, MAPS said no. First, people won't be able to get a prescription for MDMA, they'll only ever be able to get it from a therapist during a session. Brad Burge said by treating the people suffering, we might be helping ourselves too.

"By reducing how much people are suffering, we're not just helping the victims, but maybe we help prevent that violent crime from happening in the first place."

Even with the risks, 1 October survivors like Joseph Ostunio were optimistic they will one day live a life free of flashbacks and panic attacks. And for the people hesitant or against the new treatment, he asked that people keep an open mind.

"You have no idea what we went through that night."

MAPS said participants in the Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials also no longer needed their prescription medication including anxiety and anti depressant medications. Phase 3 is set to start this summer, and they're looking for people to join their study now. MAPS said if phase three goes like Phase 1 and 2, they expect MDMA therapy to be approved by the FDA by 2021. 

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