Ecstasy could be taken by autistic adults to help them open up in social situations, researchers say.

The street drug — also known by its medical name MDMA — is thought to encourage a positive mood among strangers and lessen awkwardness.

Rising in popularity in the the late 1970s and early 1980s among a circle of underground chemists, therapists and psychedelic drug enthusiasts, it later became infamous as the drug that fuelled all-night raves. But the side-effects remain positive and the drug is known to increase energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others.

Drawing on these psychological responses, researchers are planning their first study using MDMA for the treatment of social anxiety.

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