BY: ROB HOFFMAN
The day after I swallowed MDMA for the first time was almost as magical as the night I had spent on the drug. The world seemed less complicated, and the darkness in my life shrank in comparison to the overflowing afterglow of MDMA’s seemingly infinite happiness. What could possibly be wrong with this drug?
The answer, as I would learn from countless studies, political-science textbooks and testimonials from long-standing MDMA research, was nothing is wrong with the drug—but how it’s accessed and used determines whether it serves as a therapeutic aid, or a death-sentence for fist-pumping yuppies who buy their M from some neck-bearded flub in a parking garage.
The only thing wrong with the drug is how it’s accessed and used.
Rick Doblin, Executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), explains that it isn’t MDMA alone that reaps psychological benefits, but rather that professionally-guided psychotherapy is an important component to seeing results. In fact, during a clinical trial, researchers found that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy eliminated the symptoms of PTSD in 83% of patients.
Rick Doblin explains how patients can benefit from a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy.
This begs the question: why is MDMA illegal in the first place? Of course legalizing a drug impacts public perception, and one argument explores the possibility that regulation would encourage use. And yet, research has indicated that alcohol has an infinitely higher potential to cause bodily harm than pure MDMA. Naturally, swallowing a few pills and drowning your sweat glands at a David Guetta concert isn’t the most effective use of MDMA, but it also isn’t inherently deadly should the drug be served pure.
“Alcohol is still 200 times more likely to kill its users than ecstasy.”
In Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry, Jonathan Wolff explains that, “There are many more users of alcohol than ecstasy (MDMA), but even taking this into account alcohol is still, statistically, somewhere in the region of 200 times more likely to kill its users than ecstasy.” He then continues to note, “Alcohol is also known to cause brain damage, especially among very high users, yet the evidence that ecstasy has such effects is patchy and contested.”
MDMA in the pure form and administered in a therapeutic setting has the potential for numerous benefits, which Doblin continues to research and push forward. According to an interview with Huffington Post, MAPS has initiated a “$21 million plan to fund clinical trials and train psychotherapists.” In fact, Doblin has already established a training program in Charleston, South Carolina, where a group of 15 is currently training for the position of MDMA/PTSD Psychotherapist.
“MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can be administered to post-traumatic stress disorder patients without evidence of harm.”
Though medically-prescribed MDMA is a tough concept to get used to, according to a study released by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, trials for MDMA therapy carried “no drug-related serious adverse events, adverse neurocognitive effects or clinically significant blood pressure increases.” Furthermore, the journal claims that “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can be administered to post-traumatic stress disorder patients without evidence of harm.”
Moving forward with the initiative, Doblin has plans to conduct a number of further clinical trials to demonstrate the capacity of MDMA to relieve PTSD, as well as for a number of other widespread purposes. By 2017, according to Doblin, this will foreseeably gain FDA support and eventually widespread practice.