Therapists Hope To Make Case for Ecstasy 

Therapists Hope To Make Case for Ecstasy 
Posted by CN Staff on August 01, 2004 at 11:13:20 PT
By David Kohn
Source: Boston Globe 
Somewhere in Charleston, S.C., in a safe bolted to the floor and protected by an alarm system, Michael Mithoefer keeps his supply of ecstasy. He is not a dealer or a user; he is simply following federal Drug Enforcement Administration rules. The DEA ordered him to keep it secured in a secret place."You could probably go down to the local college campus and buy a lot more with a lot less trouble than breaking into the safe," he jokes.
Mithoefer, a psychiatrist, is one of a handful of people in the United States allowed to do human research with ecstasy, which the government puts in the same legal category as heroin. He is studying whether ecstasy can help trauma victims heal their emotional wounds. The research has put him at the center of an intense debate over the drug's potential as a legitimate medical treatment.A small group of determined supporters -- among them researchers and doctors at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles -- have spent more than a decade fighting for permission to do research. A few months ago, after years of wrangling, the DEA finally signed off. Mithoefer's study is the first US trial of ecstasy's therapeutic value.Advocates say the drug could help treat a range of psychological problems. "I'd like to see it widely used in psychiatry," said Harvard psychiatrist John Halpern, a leading proponent. "It is potentially a very valuable tool."But some scientists and officials question the research, saying the drug has been proved to cause permanent harm to the brain, particularly to memory. "Let's not kid ourselves. The bulk of the evidence is on the side of risk," said David Murray, a policy analyst at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The only question is how permanent and how extensive the damage is."The controversy echoes the long-running dispute between advocates and the federal government over the use of marijuana for a range of ailments, including glaucoma and nausea.Although it has been illegal in the United States since 1985, ecstasy, -- popularly called "X" or "E" -- is widely used as a recreational drug. More than 3 million Americans take the drug at least once a year, according to a 2002 government survey. Unlike heroin and cocaine, ecstasy is not physically addictive. It has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, and it generally gives users a sense of euphoria and contentment without impairing cognitive or motor abilities, as alcohol does.Ecstasy pills are produced in illegal laboratories in the United States and abroad.Mithoefer's source of the drug, known to researchers as MDMA, is a government-licensed lab.Mithoefer, Halpern, and others think the drug could particularly help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many patients can't bring themselves to talk about the painful events that triggered their problems. Ecstasy, the theory goes, could help people confront these traumas."MDMA makes people comfortable with themselves. It brings them into the moment," said Rick Doblin, director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group funding Mithoefer's research.Although Doblin, 50, is not a doctor or a researcher, he has extensive experience with the drug, having taken it more than 100 times. "It's contributed enormously to my life," he said. Over the past 20 years, he has devoted himself to spreading the idea that ecstasy and other hallucinogens have important medical benefits.The South Carolina trial, which will cost $250,000, represents a milestone in his quest. If it goes well, Doblin hopes to fund larger national studies. His ultimate goal: persuading the Food and Drug Administration to approve MDMA as a prescription drug.But some researchers are concerned that even a few doses of MDMA could cause permanent brain damage. Some animal research has found that even small amounts of the drug harmed brain neurons that release serotonin, a key neurotransmitter involved in memory. And some human research on ecstasy users has also found memory problems. Note: Government OKs first clinical trial.Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author:  David Kohn, Baltimore SunPublished: August 1, 2004Copyright: 2004 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:MAPS Agonistes Approves Trial Use Of Ecstasy in Cases On Ecstasy Is Clouded By Errors Retracted On Ecstasy Study 
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on August 01, 2004 at 19:13:20 PT
Do It?
preciate the concern phil but I'm not in the mood yet, maybe when I realize fully that i will die one day.that's the drug's forte, aids us to accept that which is ...I agree that street drugs are a roll of the dice ...That's why I support medical MDMA/MDA/ecstasy whatever instead of the street drug.But seriously, the number of deaths from "X" in all it's forms is so low compared with Aspirin that one wonders what the fuss is all about ... oh yea, this one's about memory holes ... whatever ...what can we believe about anything anymore beyond our own experiences? 
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Comment #2 posted by phil_debowl on August 01, 2004 at 18:18:18 PT
Mda is a little different than mdma. MDA has a little more visual hallucinaginic (sp) qualities, and less audio hallucinaignic properties, and a much harder come down than mdma. Unfortunatly, due to the illegal status, you never know what you get. So a lot of "ecstasy" could be a combination of mda, mde, mdma, meth, caffiene, psueoephedrin (sp). Luckily there are some places you can send a pill and $20 to, and they'll test them and post the results publicly. Unfortunatly about 50% of what you get on the street probably won't be listed, but it's a real asset when it is. Because of it's illegal status, lots of unknowing people are submitted to all kinds of different, possibly addictive chemicals, that they may/may not want to be exposed to. I strongly recommend if you're going to do ecstasy, try to find out what's in it first. Some contains little or no mdma, mda, or mde. You can check lab results at, which is highly recommended.
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Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on August 01, 2004 at 14:46:59 PT
MDA is what we called it ...
in the sixties. I favor sanity for MMDA/MDA/ecstasy or whatever it is called. It works. these ...
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