New study will see if MDMA can help autistic adults with social anxiety

The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies wants to see if social anxiety can be treated with MDMA-assisted therapy.

By Evan Bleier
Ecstasy Tablets (Credit: DEA)
Ecstasy Tablets (Credit: DEA)

(UPI) -- The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is hoping to conduct a study examining how the drug MDMA, also known as molly and ecstasy, could be used to help autistic adults with social anxiety.

According to the organization, the Research Advisory Panel of California and the Institutional Review Board at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center/Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute have given the research a green light.


The Drug Enforcement Administration still has to approve the project and issue licenses for the use of a Schedule I drug.

The MAPS study would investigate the potential of treating social anxiety with MDMA-assisted therapy.

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“There are currently no FDA-approved pharmacological treatments for autistic adults with social anxiety, and conventional anti-anxiety medications lack clinical effectiveness in this population,” according to the MAPS proposal about the study.

"Based on anecdotal reports, MDMA-assisted therapy may be a suitable intervention for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults and warrants further investigation in a randomized controlled clinical trial.

MAPS is proposing a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled exploratory pilot study with dose escalation to assess the safety and feasibility of MDMA-assisted therapy to treat social anxiety in 12 MDMA-naïve adults on the autism spectrum."


After testing the effects against a placebo control group, if the results warrant further investigation, researchers say the data will be used to design additional trials.

Charles Grob, M.D. and Alicia Danforth, Ph.D. would lead the study. It would be conducted on autistic adults with social anxiety that have finished two years of college-level education or comparable vocational training and are at least 21 years old.

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