Designer Drugs: Therapeutic use

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:00 pm

Research into the benefits of drug therapy in clinical settings for the treatment of psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental ailments was in large part responsible for the widespread use of MDMA during its introduction. The empathic properties associated with MDMA, giving users a sense of heightened emotional attachment and connectedness, made its use very intriguing for psychotherapists.
Studies are currently underway in Spain and Israel to assess MDMA’s effectiveness in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On November 2, 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first clinical trial of MDMA as a treatment for PTSD in the United States. The study is currently awaiting approval from the research review board at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Following the drug scheduling of MDMA in the mid-1980s, 2C-B was marketed as a legal substitute for use by American psychotherapists. In clinical settings, it was used as a mood-altering agent, capable of creating a warm, empathetic bond between doctors and patients. Also, the drug’s action was said to dissolve the patient’s ego-defenses and inner resistances, thus enabling the person to get in touch with suppressed emotions and repressed memories.
Ketamine, like MDMA, was once thought to hold great promise for use in the field of experimental psychotherapy, although its use has been sidelined for this purpose in the United States.
In the early years following the introduction of ketamine and other antagonists into clinical settings, doctors and researchers thought they held great promise. They were not only considered excellent anesthetics, they appeared to assist brain function and recovery after damage from strokes, head injuries, hypoxia, polio, and a variety of other conditions. Evidence of brain damage where NMDA antagonists are most active did not surface until later.
PCP (phencyclidine) was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic. Use of PCP in humans was discontinued in 1965, because it was found that patients often became agitated, delusional, and irrational while recovering from its anesthetic effects. Commercial production of PCP ended in 1978.
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) was originally developed as an anesthetic, but was withdrawn due to unwanted side effects. GHB holds several U.S. patents for use in the treatment of sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and insomnia, and as a muscle relaxant. GHB is used as a fast-acting anesthetic in small animals. The compounds and compositions made from GHB are useful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and other dopamine-related disorders.
Amphetamine attracted a widespread audience in 1932, when it was marketed as the nasal inhaler Benzedrine by the pharmaceutical company Smith Kline & French. Amphetamine is still widely used as a bronchio dilator, allowing asthmatics to breathe more freely.
Methamphetamines are still legally produced in the United States for attention-deficit disorder (ADD) under the trade names Desoxyn or Ritalin (methylphenidate). As the street name “speed” suggests, amphetamines elevate mood, heighten endurance, and eliminate fatigue.

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