By Naomi Burke-Shyne
Alcoholism is a relentless condition—90 percent of patients suffer a relapse within three years. But Dr. Ben Sessa believes he’s identified a substance that could help improve these outcomes. There’s just one problem: current drug policy makes it exceedingly difficult for him to conduct research into the treatment.
That’s because the substance is MDMA, a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which is classified in both the United Kingdom and the United States as “having no medical benefits” and is thus so strictly regulated that it is almost impossible for clinical researchers to study.
Even though Dr. Sessa is a renowned clinical psychiatrist with 20 years of experience and the backing of a respected university, it’s taken him six years to get the study off the ground. The special license required to work with controlled substances cost him nearly $40,000 and took two years to acquire. The requisite lab security equipment and law enforcement monitoring cost another $50,000.
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