MDMA in Ecstasy May Soon Be a Treatment for Social Anxiety and Autism

(Photo: Drug Enforcement Administration ) 

You probably know ecstasy for its reputation as a recreational street drug — and may even recognize its newer incarnation known as “Molly.” But now, researchers are beginning to find actual therapeutic uses for pure MDMA. The latest? A proposed study on how the drug may help adults with autism open up in social situations.

When the average person thinks of ecstasy, they’re probably thinking about raves and parties. The drug has a mood-boosting, euphoric effect, causing users to become open and inviting under the influence. Now, tapping into the power of pure MDMA purposely and cautiously might be of some benefit.

The new paper, published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, outlines the evidence for using MDMA. It’s been administered effectively and without serious side effects in more than 1,000 individuals, helping a person shift more toward an attitude of “openness and introspection.”

Social anxiety tends to be an issue for adults with autism. The scientists think that an occasional dose of ecstasy might help reduce their nervous responses, especially in a clinical setting. This could enable those with autism to develop better relationships with their therapists, feel more comfortable sharing, and gain better results from their sessions.

This isn’t the only positive new use for MDMA in development, though. Back in March, the Drug Enforcement Administration greenlit a study that will look into treating anxiety in people with life-threatening illnesses with the drug.

Related: Who Will Get PTSD? Genetic Breakthrough Brings Us Closer to Knowing

Research has also been trickling down about how MDMA might help those struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A small study from 2010 showed that administering the drug during psychotherapy cured 83 percent of patients suffering from PTSD, compared to just 25 percent undergoing psychotherapy by itself. Two years later, the majority of those cured using MDMA were still symptom-free and doing much better.

According to USA Today, veteran Virgil Huston was treated for post-traumatic stress with psychotherapy and MDMA. He explained feeling “more relaxed and trusting” on the drug, and summed up his turnaround accordingly. “I’m not perfect,” he said. “But I know this: If there is a silver bullet for curing PTSD, then this could be it.”

While we wait for science to weigh in its verdict, it’s important to note that MDMA is still controlled substance in the United States and most other parts of the world — and dangerous. The drug can cause increased blood pressure, body temperature, blurred vision, muscle tension, and even death.

Let’s keep in touch! Follow Yahoo Health on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Have a personal health story to share? We want to hear it. Tell us at