Ecstasy: Law and order

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 2:08 pm

In November 2001, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first study aimed at developing ecstasy as a prescription treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As of 2002, the researchers conducting the study, whose work was spearheaded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) were still awaiting approval from the university review board where the study is expected to take place. The investigators expect the feelings of trust and openness associated with ecstasy to help people who have experienced traumatic events work through their emotions and recover more quickly by reducing fear, depression, and anxiety. This is one of the first studies of its kind since ecstasy was placed on Schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1985. Schedule I drugs are illegal to possess, except in research performed under highly regulated conditions designed to protect patients. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, marijuana, and LSD.
Before ecstasy was made illegal, the drug was used by a few therapists as an aid in psychotherapy for the same reasons proposed by this new study. Therapists who encouraged ecstasy use for their patients claimed that it helped them to be less inhibited, more honest and open when expressing their feelings, and to place past and current experiences in a new perspective. A former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, among others, has criticized the study proposed by MAPS, suggesting there is no appropriate medical use for ecstasy, and disagrees with introducing ecstasy to an otherwise drug-free person. Presumably, the therapists encouraging ecstasy-assisted psychotherapy expect close monitoring during periods of ecstasy use will cut down on any harmful effects, and that the benefits to the patients’ treatment will outweigh any negative long-term effects of ecstasy. Results and analysis of the study will give more insight into the Therapeutic use of ecstasy.

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