MDMA to be trialled as potential treatment for alcoholism

Researchers at Imperial College London are to administer 99.9% pure MDMA to a trial of 20 subjects

MDMA is set to be tested for its efficiency as a potential treatment for alcoholism, in a new study at Imperial College London.

The study will see 20 subjects administered heavy doses of 99.9% pure MDMA over an all-day therapy session. Each of the subjects will come from a background of alcohol abuse, from heavy drinkers to relapsed alcoholics.

In addition to the chemical treatment, participants will be required to go through a two-day detox period, and spend time meditating once administered the drug.


A clinical psychiatrist participating in the study, Ben Sessa, confirmed that the study was focussing not on the drug itself, but on the patient-doctor relationship and the impact of pre-existing trauma in ongoing alcoholism treatments. “We know that MDMA works really well in helping people who have suffered trauma and it helps to build empathy,” Sessa explained at Breaking Convention in London. “Many of my patients who are alcoholics have suffered some sort of trauma in their past and this plays a role in their addiction.

“After 100 years of modern psychiatry our treatments are really poor. The chances of relapse for these patients are really high – 90 per cent at three years. No one has ever given MDMA to treat alcoholism before.”

After a recent spate of drug deaths, a drugs-testing system was trialled at Secret Garden Party last year – something NME‘s Leonie Cooper declared “an excellent – and well overdue – idea”.

The process was conducted by the drugs testing charity The Loop, whose co-director Fiona Measham told NME: “I’ve been having ongoing negotiations with quite a few festivals and I’ve got to various stages before. [In the past] it’s been blocked by various people, but never the police, who have always been on board. We tried for the last two years at [Manchester festival] Parklife and Greater Manchester Police were really supportive. But the council’s concerns were, ‘It will encourage more drug use’.”