TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The recreational drug known as ecstasy may have a medicinal role to play in helping people who have trouble connecting to others socially, new research suggests.
In a study involving a small group of healthy people, investigators found that the drug -- also known as MDMA -- prompted heightened feelings of friendliness, playfulness and love, and induced a lowering of the guard that might have therapeutic uses for improving social interactions.
Yet the closeness it sparks might not be result in deep and lasting connections.
The findings "suggest that MDMA enhances sociability, but does not necessarily increase empathy," noted study author Gillinder Bedi, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted at the Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory at the University of Chicago, was published in the Dec. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry.
In July, another study reported that MDMA might be useful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), based on the drug's apparent boosting of the ability to cope with grief by helping to control fears without numbing people emotionally.
MDMA is part of a family of so-called "club drugs," which are popular with some teens and young at all night dances or "raves." These drugs, which are often used in combination with alcohol, have potentially life-threatening effects, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The newest study explored the effects of MDMA on 21 healthy volunteers, nine women and 12 men aged 18 to 38. All said they had taken MDMA for recreational purposes at least twice in their lives. They were randomly assigned to take either a low or moderate dose of MDMA, metham
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