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The Contender
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MDMA is an acceptable substitute for PTSD sufferers.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 565 times Debate No: 73556
Debate Rounds (3)
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In this debate, I would like to discuss the merits of clinical MDMA therapy for individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Debate will have no formal rules.

For Clarification,
In a controlled environment, MDMA assisted psychotherapy is an acceptable substitute to current treatment medications. Considering that the current treatment options for PTSD sufferers, medication wise, are SSRI's, I would argue that these do not address the root issues of PTSD, and only addresses the symptoms. Research shows that SSRI's are not an effective treatment path for PTSD.

Sources available upon request.


While MDMA may potentially have certain characteristics that would make it helpful in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, there are multiple risks that must be taken into account before stating that it could be used safely.
Firstly, there are the risks concerning long term changes to serotonin depending on the dose and frequency of intake. The way MDMA functions is by releasing all of the seratonin in the brain, leaving the user with immensely depleted seratonin levels afterwards. term changes to serotonin increases with dose and frequency of use. There are many studies that have been performed over the past 15 years which have shown that the higher the dose and more frequent the use, the worse the long term after-effects may be.
Another possible difficult situation arising from MDMA use is the release of emotions which one may be unprepared to deal with. This could include confronting past episode of abuse, re-experiencing painful memories, encountering emotional crises, or unearthing previously unrecognized feelings. This risk, especially with a PTSD patient, is along the lines of taking an antidepressant that may drive one to commit suicide:self-defeating in purpose.
MDMA also has the potential to be psychologically addicting.While this is not necessarily a critical problem (caffeine, for example, is also psychologically addicting, and rarely seems to be destructive on a large scale) it very well could be given the strength of a substance such as MDMA in comparison to caffeine. This, especially in a patient with addictive tendencies, could lead to social problems in the lives of that individual.
There is an ongoing debate about the possible neurotoxicity of MDMA. Most experts agree that MDMA is neurotoxic. The consequences of this, however, remain unspecified. Alcohol is also a neurotoxin, for instance, as are many other medications. MDMA is shown to change the composition of the brain and a few studies have shown increases in depression and anxiety.
Debate Round No. 1


While MDMA may potentially have certain characteristics that would make it helpful in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, there are multiple risks that must be taken into account before stating that it could be used safely."

I absolutely agree with this point. I do agree that risks are present, and as such, should be taken into consideration.

The remainder of your argument makes a lot of good points. Allow me to respond.

Firstly, I'd like to comment on the serotonin levels. Currently, the major treatment prescription for PTSD patients are that of SSRI's, serotonin re uptake inhibitors. I would argue that SSRI's pose the same risks as MDMA, as far as serotonin levels are concerned. There is currently no actual baseline for what a "normal" serotonin level is. The only way to acquire that information is to open up the brain of a living patient, and physically measure the levels. The basis behind SSRI's was, at worst, guesswork.

While it's true that changes to the brain increase with frequency and dose of MDMA, research suggests that MDMA therapy need only occur a handful of times (4, maybe 5 sessions) to achieve lasting results for the patient. This is a benefit, as traditional medications usually require and indefinite treatment period.

As far as the releasing of emotions which one may be unprepared to deal with...
This is precisely the purpose of the therapy. The idea behind MDMA assisted psychotherapy is that the MDMA shrinks the areas of the brain responsible for fear (The amygdala, if I remember correctly), while simultaneously promoting feelings of warmth and acceptance. The patient is then encouraged to re-live the traumatic episode, under the effects of MDMA, and wires the brain to re-associate that event from a traumatic one, to one more easily lived with.

I am out of characters for this post, so I cannot respond to your last two points about psychological addiction, and neurotoxicity.


There are the common behavioral effects of jaw clenching, fatigue, dehydration, exhaustability, irritability, and an increase of frequency of nightmares that have been associated with MDMA use. Aside from the health problems many of these symptoms can lead to, the irritability and nightmares that can be onset by use of MDMA,could easily lead to mental instability and worsening trauma were the patient to relapse as a result.

Additionally, I would like to point out that you have not yet presented the information concerning the pool of experimental research patients, and extending upon that, if it is a limited sample size it may not accurately demonstrate how the remaining, and potentially majority of, PTSD victims would react to such a medication.

And as a final note, as it concerns the comparison between seratonin and MDMA versus seratonin and the SSRIs, it is invaluable to note that despite mostly minor side effects, SSRIs have been proven to be safe already, and are shown to be effective at treating anxiety and depression (a few symptoms of PTSD). As a result, I argue that treatments already proven to deal with symptoms are arguably safer than experimental drugs trying to find the source of the symptoms.
Debate Round No. 2


You are correct in that the sample size of patients used for the data in my claim is small. The number is about 880 patients have undergone some type of MDMA-related psychotherapy. While this is a potential issue, the only way to find out the true long term affects is to increase the sample size, and test on more patients.

As for your second point about SSRI's being an effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD, I would agree that this is the case, and it is why we have continued to use SSRI's as a treatment. However, I would argue that the potential benefits outweigh the risks, and it is a necessary step in finding out how to cure PTSD.

All in all a good debate for 3 rounds.
Thank's very much for the discussion.

I did my best not to raise any new arguments, and merely comment on what has been said.


ShadowMetro forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: ff