MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or Molly, is primarily a recreational drug that causes euphoric feelings, increased empathy with others, and enhanced sensations. Sounds and colors are often experienced more intensely, making MDMA a popular recreational drug at raves and music festivals.

Currently, it is in Phase III clinical trials for use as a therapeutic aid in the treatment of PTSD, and has been granted “Breakthrough Therapy” status by the FDA.

It is most commonly taken as an oral tablet that comes in a variety of shapes and colors, but it can also be snorted or smoked.

MDMA can be deadly when combined with other drugs (especially PMA/PMMA), and can also be deadly on its own at high doses.


In 2017, MDMA was approved for use in Phase 3 clinical trials in the US to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[10] [11] This is one of the last phases of testing before a drug is legally approved for therapeutic use. The trials are being funded by MAPS.

MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD involves only a few administrations of the drug alongside guided professional therapy. The drug used in these trials is pure, with dosages strictly controlled – unlikely the typical use of recreational ecstasy.

Patients who have undergone this therapy typically have a particularly treatment-resistant form of PTSD (many of them are war veterans). They report that MDMA therapy helped them approach their past trauma with a greater sense of acceptance, warmth, and compassion for themselves, allowing them greater opportunity to cope and heal.

Read more about the use of MDMA in the treatment of PTSD here.


Preliminary results from a few studies suggest MDMA is also a promising treatment for social anxiety in individuals with autism.[12] In a clinical setting, it can be used to shift a patient with social anxiety towards openness and encourage introspection. Early results suggest this is accomplished with infrequent or even single doses, eliminating the need for frequent administration of the drug, thereby mitigating the possible adverse side effects and many of the costs associated with longer-term, more involved therapies.

This same mechanism appears to operate in treating patients with life-threatening illnesses who experience clinical anxiety as well.[13]