MDMA could be used to lessen social anxiety in autistic adults, according to a new study proposed in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.

Ecstasy Study Proposed

The proposed study would focus on the positive side effects of MDMA, the medical name of the common party drug Ecstasy, which has been known to cause a positive mood change in users. Pure MDMA is known for making users more social, inviting and boosting their moods, and researchers are now trying to harness those side effects to possibly help treat psychological conditions, such as PTSD and social anxiety.

MDMA could be used to help adults with autism communicate in social situations and, specifically, ease relations between an autistic patient and their psychiatrist or healthcare professional. Many people struggling with autism suffer from social anxiety and have trouble relating to others, something MDMA has shown to enable, according to researchers from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

“We’re not looking to affect any of the course or traits of autism. We’re looking to help individuals who are sometimes held back from living life to the fullest,” said Alicia Danforth, a co-investigator in the study.

The idea of MDMA use becoming a form of treatment may sound dangerous, but scientists say that it would be extremely safe. Ecstasy and Molly, drugs illegal in the US and based off MDMA, are more dangerous because they are usually contaminated by some other substance. The drugs used in the study would be pure MDMA. Furthermore, the study would administer only a small amount of the drug sparingly, minimizing any risk of addiction.

The study has already gone through early stages, and is ongoing. Other researchers are conducting studies on MDMA’s effectiveness in treating PTSD.

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