Australia has become the first country that allows psychiatrists to prescribe MDMA and psilocybin to patients with treatment-resistant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or treatment-resistant depression. This groundbreaking decision, effective since July 1, 2023, involves the reclassification of these substances from the strictest controlled category, schedule 9 (prohibited substances), to schedule 8 (controlled drugs), exclusively for medical purposes in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Both MDMA and psilocybin have now been officially added to the list of approved medicines by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Originally developed as an appetite suppressant in 1912, MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, once found a place in therapy sessions until it was banned in the US in the mid-1970s. Fast forward to the 1980s, and it arrived in Australia as a party drug, gaining infamy and eventually criminalization in 1987. However, research slowly started up again in the 2000s, with recent trials demonstrating the potential of both MDMA and psilocybin to improve depression symptoms, although little is known about how the research takes place.
Mind Medicine Australia (MMA), a charity which lobbied for psychedelic treatments, is helping to train health professionals tasked with procuring and prescribing the drugs. They are required to be an Authorized Prescriber (AP) under the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber scheme. They also need to obtain approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before seeking approval to be an AP.
Both MDMA and psilocybin are going to be administered in controlled, therapeutic settings, combined with psychotherapy. It aims to provide a transformative experience that holds the promise of emotional healing and enhanced mental well-being, particularly for those who haven’t found relief through traditional treatments.
MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine has the capacity to
- Lower psychological defenses
- Creates connection with self
- Allows emotional exploration
- Reduces anxiety
- Allows empathy for self and others
These qualities have proven in research to treat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Psilocybin, found in certain strain of mushrooms, can
- Create insightfulness
- Experience of unity
- Promotes neuroplasticity
- Induces mystical experiences, giving a sense of meaning and purpose
- Increases openness and flexibility in thinking and problem solving
Australia’s bold move signals a new era in mental health care, where psychedelic therapies are gaining recognition and reshaping the conversation around depression and PTSD treatments.
I am happy to announce that I have completed Mind Medicine in Australia – please reach out if you have trouble through traditional treatment.