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First study of safety and tolerability of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy in patients with alcohol use disorder: preliminary data on the first four participants
  1. Ben Sessa1,
  2. Chloe Sakal2,
  3. Steve O’Brien1 and
  4. David Nutt1
  1. 1 Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Bath, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ben Sessa, bensessa{at}


We present the preliminary data in an ongoing open-label safety and tolerability proof of concept study exploring the potential role for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy in treating patients with alcohol use disorder. At this stage, seven participants have completed the full 8-week MDMA-assisted psychotherapy course, including two therapy sessions each with MDMA. This paper focuses on the safety and tolerability of the therapeutic course for the first four participants to complete treatment. Longer-term outcomes of drinking behaviour will be presented later when the full project data are published. Results show all four participants have successfully tolerated the treatment. There have been no serious adverse events related to MDMA, no unexpected physiological responses to the MDMA sessions or changes to blood results or electrocardiograms, measured before and after the 8-week course. We conclude that the treatment is well- tolerated and are making plans to expand the project into a randomised placebo-controlled study.

  • alcohol-related disorders
  • drugs misuse (including addiction)
  • psychotherapy

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  • Contributors BS was the principal investigator for study, corresponding author, and main contributor to the writing of the paper. CS contributed to data entry and creating graph for paper. SO’B was a research assistant and contributed to data entry and creating graphs for paper. DN was co-investigator for study and approved the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.