MDMA and Autism


According to a new study at County Harbor UCLA, MDMA could help adults on the autism spectrum:

Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA and investigator at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, or LA BioMed, was the first to win approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to begin clinical trials of MDMA. Since he began the testing about 20 years ago, he has found that the drug may be helpful to adults grappling with symptoms from varying degrees of autism.

 And just recently, Grob began a new round of research with adults living with the neurodevelopmental disorder, who face issues such as anxiety, depression and sensory hypersensitivity. 

“The question is: ‘Can we re-engage this area in a responsible, objective way to explore methods of a treatment?’ ” Grob said. “But to do so in a responsible way, unlike what happened in the ’60s.”

Grob, who is also director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, isn’t alone. Psychiatrists around the world are now studying whether the drug will help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But Grob wants to know if it will ease the social anxiety and isolation suffered by those with autism.

 Grob and his research partner, Alicia Danforth, have begun “preparatory psychotherapy” with three autistic adults who have agreed to try the MDMA treatment. The study will ultimately include 12 participants, one-third of whom will receive a placebo.

Each study participant who receives the active drug will be given a small dose of 75 to 125 milligrams, and a male and female researcher will sit with them throughout the six to eight hour process, during which they will be closely monitored.

A comfortable setting for the treatment is imperative to its success, Grob believes. 

“We try to optimize ‘set and setting’ in order to ensure strong, safe parameters,” Grob said. “I suppose that is ultimately derived from the shamanic model.”

Grob believes MDMA and hallucinogenics such as psilocybin — the active drug in psychedelic mushrooms — and ayahuasca, a concoction made from a plant vine that causes hallucinations, could hold clues to reversing the negative symptoms of mental illness and addiction (particularly alcoholism).

Via Daily News