MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or molly, is a synthetic psychoactive drug that is commonly associated with recreational use at raves or clubs, but it has more recently been studied along with other psychedelics in the treatment of a variety of ailments, most specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other uses under study have been to treat depression, social anxiety, and (in couples therapy) to foster closeness. Common effects of the drug include euphoria, heightened empathy, and a sense of emotional well-being, along with a more intense experience of colors and sounds. While MDMA has been moved under review of the Food and Drug Administration in the US for clinical use, it still remains illegal in most countries.
Research over the last decade has shown MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to be effective in treating PTSD from military combat, sexual assault and childhood abuse. Now researchers are trialing MDMA with couples and finding promising results.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the design of two Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA for treating PTSD, according to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is funding and leading the clinical trials.