Ecstasy (Yes, the Club Drug) as a Treatment for Autism?


 

Ecstasy (Yes, the Club Drug) as a Treatment for Autism? – A new study in the journal Biological Psychiatry suggests that MDMA—that’s the club drug, ecstasy—may be used to ‘enhance the psychotherapy of people who struggle to feel connected to others.’ For this reason, it’s suggested that the drug might be used with those who have autism, schizophrenia, or antisocial personality disorder. Researchers do note that ‘these effects have been difficult to measure objectively, and there has been limited research in humans.’ And it’s pretty hard not to look at this latest idea about treating autism with several grains of salt. The new study, Is Ecstasy an “Empathogen”?, was undertaken by University of Chicago researchers and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. According to the lead author, Dr. Gillinder Bedi: “We found that MDMA produced friendliness, playfulness, and loving feelings, even when it was administered to people in a laboratory with little social contact. We also found that MDMA reduced volunteers’ capacity to recognize facial expressions of fear in other people, an effect that may be involved in the increased sociability said to be produced by MDMA.” The study found that the use of MDMA can make others ‘seem more attractive and friendly.’ However, MDMA can also make others seem ‘less threatening, which could increase users’ social risk-taking’—and which could, and would, one might think, pose potentially significant problems for those with psychiatric disorders or individuals on the autism spectrum, who may

 

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