In the early 1980s, however, MDMA escaped from the dance floor clinic, where it became known as Ecstasy. In 1985, the Drug Enforcement Administration criminalized MDMA as a Schedule I substance, defined as “no medical use at present and high potential for abuse.”
Some mental health professionals continue to use MDMA-assisted therapy, but most stop. The number of scientists who have studied MDMA is also declining. But some people continued to push hard on behalf of MDMA research, including Dr. Doblin, who founded his association in 1986 to focus on developing MDMA and other psychedelics in FDA-approved drugs. dangers, including eating holes in consumers̵
Ecstasy or Molly, on the other hand, can be forged with other potentially dangerous substances and consumers can take much higher doses than are safe. In 2011, MDMA accounted for 1.8% of all emergency department visits related to drugs, according to a database maintained to date by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. In Europe, MDMA was responsible for 8% of drug-related emergency visits to 16 major hospitals in 10 countries from 2013 to 2014.
Scientists still do not fully understand the source of the therapeutic effects of MDMA. The substance binds to proteins that regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can, among other things, lift the mood. Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac bind to these same proteins and block their reabsorption of serotonin, but MDMA continues this process by causing proteins to pump serotonin into synapses, amplifying their chemical signal.
MDMA also increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine and other chemical messengers, creating a sense of empathy, trust and compassion.
But its main therapeutic effect may come from its apparent ability to reopen what neurologists call the “critical period,” the window to childhood, when the brain has the superior ability to create new memories and store them. Evidence from a study of mice published in Nature in 2019 shows that MDMA can return the brain of an adult to this earlier state of susceptibility.
Approximately 7% of the US population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, and about 13% of combat veterans are able to. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent $ 17 billion on disability payments to more than one million PTSD veterans.