The researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have found a new molecular pathway that can be targeted in illicit drug abusers to make the individual make sociable by reducing the tendency on the drug. The new study could help develop new treatments for psychiatric disorders to remove social awkwardness and withdrawal in a patient. Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy is a drug known to alter minds and it is found to affect the minds of almost 3 million Americans per year. It is also called the “party drug” as it gives people a sense of happiness and sociability. MDMA could be used as a medicine for psychiatry.
The drug is in the late-stage of a clinical trial as an adjunct to psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. The drug can help strengthen the bond between patient and therapist. The new guided therapy can help the abusers feel relieved. Around 25 million Americans affected with PTSD could benefit from the drug but it is definitely going to take months or years. However, the basic problem is that MDMA can prove addictive if taken in the wrong doses and lead to life-threatening consequences. The potential of the drug could be clearly seen as it stimulates the reward circuitry of the brain. The reward circuitry connects the neurons to the nucleus accumbens. The neurons release dopamine and the nucleus accumbens then sends the signals to the brain to create a sense of reward. An unnatural dopamine surge takes place in the brain that is much higher than craving for an ice-cream or sex. The researchers found serotonin’s release in the nucleus accumbens by MDMA to trigger the sociability-inducing effect.
In a parallel context, the researchers from Imperial College London are studying the effects of MDMA in treating alcoholism. Alcohol addiction is possibly treated with psychotherapies and some traditional methods. However, no positive results could be seen and thus, the researchers have recently found molly or ecstasy to help people overcome alcohol addiction. MDMA’s ability to impair the fear response in a patient is known to help people get over their addiction.