UK: Series: Drugs Uncovered: The Agony and the Ecstacy

By chillinwill · Nov 17, 2008 · Updated Nov 17, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Drugs are an established part of our landscape. But how do we reconcile the apparently happy experience of the casual user with that of the addict? And how do we win the unwinnable 'war on drugs', asks Andrew Anthony

    Andrew Anthony Like televised sport, taking recreational drugs seems to require running commentary. In fact, two commentaries. First there are the banal observations that accompany drug consumption - 'This is good stuff', 'I'm completely out of it', 'I'm not feeling anything', etc - and then there is the meta-commentary, the ceaseless debate about the role, meaning and desirability of the massive socio-economic phenomenon that falls under the expansive title of 'drugs'.

    In the first case, very little changes. Drug conversations, or the conversations of people taking drugs, are no less dull now than they have ever been. The very subjectivity of the topic, its relentless me-ism, makes for a self-indulgence that is consistently uninteresting ( though there are no shortage of transfixing first-person drug narratives in literature ).

    By contrast, the public discussion about drugs is constantly evolving. Forty years ago, people were still imprisoned for the possession of minor quantities of cannabis, and the houses of rock stars were regularly searched by the police for the same drug. Twenty years ago, whole fields full of people thought that they had found a drug - ecstasy - that bridged the divide between individual hedonism and communal unity.

    Both examples now seem like ancient, even embarrassing, history. Very few people would nowadays support the idea of the police raiding the homes of casual cannabis users. Similarly, even its most ardent cheerleaders of yesteryear would probably see ecstasy as a door to memory loss and anxiety, rather than any kind of new social utopia.

    If naive optimism is the thesis and moral panic the antithesis of each new drug trend, in practice the synthesis tends to be a sort of critical pragmatism. Society adjusts to specific drugs in much the same way that the body does: it becomes more tolerant. That's not to say there is widespread sympathy for, say, heroin and crack use. But while their deleterious effects are well-known, the idea that they amount to a kind of super-virulent pandemic has been modified by experience. We know they can be addictive, and we know addicts are often desperate people, but we also know they form a tiny minority in society.

    If you're under 40 and walk the length of Oxford Street in London, you might hear ( if you listen ) a solicitation to buy heroin or crack. It's a little shocking at first, especially if you're in the market for leather goods or a new electric toothbrush, but after a few occasions, you realise that it doesn't actually affect or inhibit the main business of the street. For the vast majority of consumers, 'white goods' will never mean cocaine.

    Oxford Street is a microcosm of the parallel worlds that operate in every city in Britain. But the divide is not just between drug users and non-users, it's also between types of use. For a growing number of people, drugs form part of their portfolio of leisure: gym on Tuesday, cinema Thursday and cocaine Friday. Drugs, by this measure, are just another consumer choice for hardworking people with disposable income. This is the shiny, if not always happy, side of the equation.

    Then there are people whose lives, rather than income, seem disposable. The crack-addicted street prostitutes in almost every major city, the hopeless junkies on sink estates, the criminals who feed their habits with burglary and mugging, and the dealers who criminalise youth and kill one another. There's nothing glamorous nor appealing about this picture: it's a grim, monochrome advert for abstinence.

    But is it possible to have one without the other? Does consumer choice necessarily entail social casualties? Is the price of our pleasure inevitably someone else's pain? These are questions that we can't ignore, but at the same time are not easy to answer.

    When he became Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Ian Blair tried to address the issue by announcing a plan to target middle-class cocaine users. 'There is a group of people [in London] who think they are doing harm-free cocaine,' he said. 'I'm not interested in what harm it is doing to them, but the price of that cocaine is misery on the estates of London and blood on the roads from Colombia.'

    This was a reasonable point, but it raised the question: was it the trade in cocaine that caused the misery and bloodshed, or the fact that the trade was illegal and therefore run by gangsters? To put it another way, were the customers who frequented speakeasies during the American alcohol prohibition of 1920 to 1933 responsible for the St Valentine's Day Massacre and other gangland murders of the period, or was it down to ruthless criminals exploiting an unworkable law?

    Every society has its methods and rituals of psycho-physiological release or transformation. In Britain, the preferred means of intoxication has traditionally been, and remains, alcohol. Yet while there are millions who can enjoy a regular glass of wine, or even an occasional binge, without any serious effects, almost every high street and park in the country contains the broken-veined faces of tragic alcoholics. Does one man's after-work Sauvignon blanc necessitate another's breakfast Special Brew?

    The consensus in this country seems to be that two legal intoxicants are enough. Most Britons think that illegal drugs should remain illegal, but not that illegal. Ian Blair's vision of dinner-party police raids never really caught on. However, there are signs that what might seem a counterintuitive development is under way in our attitudes towards drugs.

    The poll the Observer commissioned shows that just over a quarter of all adults have taken illegal drugs at some point in their lives. That's a large number of people, but it only tells a quarter of the story. Almost half of those in the 16-34 group have consumed illegal drugs, while almost all of those aged over 55 have not.

    It might be expected that as young people come of age, bringing more drug users into the democratic realm, and older people die, reducing the number of non-users, attitudes to drug use will grow more permissive.

    Yet in the survey the Observer conducted in 2002, 30 per cent of adults thought that the law was too strict. Six years on and that number has dropped to just 18 per cent. There are several explanations for this change. One is that the overall image of drugs has worsened. The high-water mark of social liberalisation may have been reached in this country, for the time being, with the extension of licensing hours.

    The backlash against binge drinking and antisocial behaviour in urban centres speaks of a belief that the British cannot be relied upon to control themselves, especially after nine pints of lager. With such public reservations about the sale of alcohol, it follows that there would be a more conservative approach to other drugs.

    Another possible reason for the shift in attitude is that there are now more adults with negative experiences of drugs. It could also be that people think that in recent years there has been a liberalisation of the law that now needs tightening. One other possibility is that the publicity generated by various high-profile murders attributed to drug dealers has hardened public opinion. Most likely it's a combination of all these factors.

    In any case, the survey shows that six years ago, 66 per cent of adults believed that street crime and burglary would be reduced if hard drugs were decriminalised. Today, that figure has fallen to 56 per cent. It's estimated that around half of all crime that warrants a custodial sentence is drug-related. But the number of people who believe there is a link between the illegal drug market and street crime is dropping.

    Still, a majority of adults appear to believe that the decriminalisation of drugs will reduce general crime. That's a startling statistic, because a majority of adults are against decriminalisation. Does this mean that the public would prefer more crime to more drugs? That's doubtful. Instead, it probably points to a realistic appraisal of what is a confused and compromised drug policy, not just in Britain but across the world.

    As we have learned from the banking crisis, in the era of globalisation no country is an island. Against the backdrop of the US-led 'War on Drugs', decriminalisation is a misleading and limited enterprise.

    At best, it produces the Dutch model, in which liberalisation leads to drug tourism. Yet this kind of initiative does nothing to change the underlying criminal nature of the business, which remains in the hands of international gangsters and their local distributors and henchmen.

    The War on Drugs was a phrase, or policy, coined by Richard Nixon in 1971 during his first term as President, as a conscious echo of Lyndon B Johnson's 'War on Poverty'. Never in the history of warfare has a campaign been waged for so long with so few tangible results. Just look at the example of Colombia: it's estimated that between 2000 and 2006, the US government invested $4.7bn on Plan Colombia, a joint US-Colombian project to eliminate coca production in the global capital of cocaine. The net result was that, although production was dispersed to more remote areas of the country, cultivated acreage remained the same.

    At the same time, the illicit trade in cocaine funded the Farc guerrillas, renowned for their kidnappings. Similarly in Afghanistan, the Taliban have lucratively exploited the heroin trade, which has dramatically expanded in the years since American intervention. It's no exaggeration to say that the War on Drugs sustains the very people identified as enemies in the 'War on Terror'.

    Taking all of these contradictions into account, it's perhaps no surprise that no coherent vision exists of our relationship with drugs. Rather than challenge global policy, we've settled for a more flexible pick-and-mix approach to questions of morality and personal pleasure.

    The truth is that very few consumers stop and wonder about the effects of cash crops on developing-world societies when they purchase coffee, and there's no reason to believe drug consumers are any different.

    Leaving aside the ethics and economics of drugs, another area of worthwhile inquiry is definition. What makes a substance a drug? Which is to say, why are some drugs proscribed and others prescribed?

    One of the most popular recreational drugs of the past decade is completely legal, although in theory available only on prescription. The drug is known to have side effects, including, in rare cases, hearing loss, stroke, hypotension and heart attack, and more commonly, headache, dyspepsia and impaired vision.

    Yet millions of pills of sildenafil citrate are sold each year. The drug is also increasingly popular on the club scene, where it is often mixed with cocaine or ecstasy. Its best-known trade name is Viagra.

    Perhaps the most obvious reason why Viagra is legal and, say, cocaine is not is that the former, notwithstanding the stated side effects, is deemed to be safe, while cocaine is deemed to be unsafe. In fact they both place stress on the heart, albeit in different ways and to varying degrees, but whereas Viagra was subject to extensive and exacting medical trials before it gained a licence, cocaine has enjoyed no such scientific scrutiny.

    Cocaine's physiological effects are known mostly as a result of coming to medical attention. So, by definition, it is the excessive and even lethal aspects of cocaine experiences that have gained the focus of scientific study. Of the many millions of comparatively harmless examples of cocaine ingestion, there are limited data. If nothing else, it does not make for a sensible basis for risk analysis.

    However, perhaps the key distinction between cocaine and sildenafil citrate is that they primarily affect different organs. It's drugs that influence behaviour, rather than ability, that really concern the authorities.

    You can see why. If someone is passive, law-abiding and responsible in normal circumstances, but becomes violent, reckless and irrational having taken a certain drug, then it has potentially far-reaching social implications that require a social, or political, response. The problem is, though, different drugs affect different people in different ways. Some perfectly pleasant people become obnoxious and aggressive after a couple of drinks, but on the whole we don't define alcohol in terms of this minority experience. In this matter, more than most, it is a question of perception.

    As Barack Obama has not stated any plans to alter drug policy, and the US determines international drug policy, the chances are that our holistic experience of drugs will continue to be defined by their illegality. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that in one respect at least we are developing a more mature outlook towards drugs.

    Until relatively recently drugs, as depicted in countless songs and films, were viewed as symbols of subversion. To light up a joint, or to slip into the lavatory for a line, was in some vague and unexamined way an anti-authoritarian, or countercultural, act of defiance, and not just because it was illegal.

    By dint of the fact that drugs were mostly restricted to an urban elite, they also represented a kind of informed transgression. But the great democratic march of global markets and consumer choice has spread drugs across classes and cultures, and not infrequently to ill-effect. However, this expansion in use has at least demystified drug-taking. It may sometimes be fun, but it's never clever.

    Author: Andrew Anthony
    Pubdate: Sun, 16 Nov 2008
    Source: Observer, The (UK)
    Page: 4

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  1. chillinwill
    MDMA holds promise as part of a therapy that helps post-traumatic stress patients confront and extinguish their fears. But ecstasy's recreational reputation has slowed research
    For people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — an anxiety condition that develops in the wake of extreme psychological stress or fear — often the only way forward is to confront the very memory that triggers the disorder. While group and cognitive therapies have shown promise, exposure-based therapies have become increasingly popular and successful. Exposure means confronting a distressing memory (a near-death experience, the loss of a loved one or a sexual assault, for example) to emotionally process it in a safe clinical environment — either through imagined scenarios or real-life exposure to reminders of trauma. The therapy is intended to help the patient "re-learn" a non-debilitating response to a trigger of fear. It's a phenomenon known as extinction learning.

    Even with this approach, about 40 percent of patients continue to experience some level of post-traumatic stress after therapy. To reduce that number, scientists have been investigating a range of drug therapies in recent years to improve exposure therapy, which is not intended to "erase" a patient's memories but rather to help them process the painful stimulus as merely a memory, and not an event that will happen — or threaten them — again. The therapy requires patients to confront their anxieties, but researchers believe medication — including MDMA — can help by making the patient feel safer, more in control, more able to process emotions and less evasive or dispirited.

    Earlier this year, a pair of Norwegian scientists published a paper in the Journal of Pharmacology titled "How could MDMA help anxiety disorders? A neurobiological rationale." Authors Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Krebs, who are based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and receive funding from the Research Council of Norway, propose that the substance 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine — also known as MDMA or as the street drug ecstasy — holds significant therapeutic promise for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. As they write, "MDMA [ecstasy] has a combination of pharmacological effects that ... could provide a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control."

    To learn more about their studies of MDMA and post-traumatic stress disorder, Miller-McCune conducted an e-mail interview with the two researchers in Norway. They responded jointly.

    Miller-McCune: Could you provide an overview of the ideas behind exposure therapy and how MDMA works to quell anxiety in that context?

    Krebs & Johansen: A lot of people wonder: How is it possible that a few doses of MDMA, in combination with psychotherapy, could have lasting benefits for anxiety? Doesn't it just make people feel happy for a few hours? Aren't most psychiatric medications taken daily for a long time? There is a common misconception that psychotherapy is a really long process of vaguely defined "talking" and that it probably isn't that effective anyway. Actually, exposure therapy (in particular "prolonged exposure therapy," as developed by Dr. Edna Foa at the University of Pennsylvania) is short-term, structured, based on scientific behavioral principles of conditioning and extinction, and validated by many controlled studies. For most patients, exposure therapy has clinically significant effects on anxiety after a few hours, and for PTSD, exposure therapy has demonstrated long-term positive results after 10 to 12 hourlong weekly therapy sessions.

    If MDMA could facilitate exposure, then it is entirely understandable that MDMA-augmented therapy could have lasting long-term effects on PTSD symptoms, after a few four- to six-hour therapy sessions with MDMA, within a course of short-term therapy. This needs to be demonstrated repeatedly in clinical trials, but it is biologically plausible. In the last 10 years, there has been a large amount of research on the molecular mechanisms of fear extinction with an objective of making exposure therapy easier, faster or more effective.

    The main point that we want to get across: Fear extinction in exposure therapy requires a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control. MDMA has effects that combine together many of the proposed mechanisms for enhancing fear extinction. Interestingly, MDMA appears to both facilitate exposure as well as augment extinction learning. Therefore, more research on these aspects of MDMA is clearly appreciated.

    M-M: How was the therapeutic potential of MDMA first discovered? And what made you begin to think of using MDMA in this therapeutic context?

    K & J: MDMA was first synthesized by Merck back in 1912, but it was never tested on humans. It was rediscovered in the late 1960s, and the therapeutic potential was immediately recognized by chemist Alexander Shulgin. Shulgin introduced MDMA to physicians who used MDMA to augment psychotherapy in the early '80s.

    We have been in a kind of plateau the last decade; we need to develop new treatments beyond timid half-modifications of treatment models. ... We have acquired a lot of knowledge about the brain circuits of fear and fear extinction from animals. Recently we have started to move over the hump of being stuck in the same place. By translating principles from research on extinction and animal learning into clinical studies of exposure therapy, new strategies for combining pharmacological and exposure-based treatments have emerged.

    M-M: What makes post-traumatic stress disorder a particularly viable condition to target with MDMA? Is it specifically because of the use of exposure therapy in treating the disorder?

    K & J: Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder is an often-complex disorder that occurs in response to a traumatic event involving perceived personal threat, such as rape, torture, physical assault or combat. Most pharmacological interventions to PTSD are daily treatments involving long-term mechanisms presumed to correct biochemical abnormalities. In contrast, prolonged exposure therapy is a short-term treatment and, consistent with extinction models of fear inhibition, prolonged exposure therapy leads to long-term improvement. Applying psychotherapy to PTSD has gained substantial support and is today regarded as the treatment of choice. However, not all people benefit from the treatment.

    People with PTSD often avoid triggers or reminders of the trauma and feel emotionally disconnected or are unable to benefit from the support of others — likely contributing to the development and maintenance of the disorder. A goal during exposure therapy for PTSD is to recall distressing experiences while at the same time remaining grounded in the present, according to Dr. Edna B. Foa. Emotional avoidance is among the most common obstacles in exposure therapy for PTSD, and within a particular session, a high emotional engagement predicts a better outcome.


    As illicit versions of MDMA hit the streets in the early 1980s, becoming especially popular in gay night clubs before spreading in the 1990s to underground music parties known as raves, researchers were also taking a renewed interest in its therapeutic potential, and the World Health Organization's Expert Committee decided to examine studies of the drug as an aid to treatment of a variety of mental afflictions. In 1985, the committee called MDMA an "interesting substance" and concluded: "While the Expert Committee found the reports intriguing, it felt that the studies lacked the appropriate methodological design necessary to ascertain the reliability of the observations. There was, however, sufficient interest expressed to recommend that investigations be encouraged to follow up these preliminary findings."

    On July 1, 1985, however, MDMA became the first (and still only) drug classified as Schedule I under a new law that allowed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to place an emergency ban on drugs it deemed dangerous to the public. When the government was sued by a group of psychologists, psychiatrists and researchers, Francis L. Young, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Justice, analyzed the literature and concluded that, prior to its being proscribed, MDMA did have "a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. ... It is not presently being used in treatment because it has been proscribed."

    Young went on: "In addition, other psychiatrists have been using MDMA in their practices over the past 10 years. Because MDMA cannot be patented, no pharmaceutical company has had the financial incentive to carry out the extensive animal and clinical tests required by the FDA for approval to market the drug on an interstate basis. Nevertheless, the overwhelming weight of medical opinion evidence received in this proceeding concurred that sufficient information on MDMA existed to support a judgment by reputable physicians that MDMA was safe to use under medical supervision. No evidence was produced of any instances where MDMA was used in therapy with less than wholly acceptable safety."

    Although Young recommended that MDMA be placed in Schedule III — allowing it to be manufactured, used on a prescription basis and subject to further research — the DEA maintained its Schedule I ruling. It wasn't until 1993 that the Food and Drug Administration approved clinical trials on the effects of MDMA on human volunteers.

    In her seminal work on the drug, Ecstasy: The Complete Guide, New York psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland notes that the drug acquired its street name largely on the basis of its marketing potential, but that even early users acknowledged its empathetic, therapeutic aspects. "It is widely accepted that the name ecstasy was chosen simply for marketing reasons," she writes. "It is a powerful, intriguing name to attach to a psychoactive substance. The person who named the drug, an alleged dealer who wishes to remain anonymous, had this to say: 'Ecstasy was chosen for obvious reasons, because it would sell better than calling it empathy. Empathy would be more appropriate, but how many people know what it means?'"

    M-M: Obviously, the public at large will associate MDMA with the recreational drug ecstasy. How do you distinguish between clinical use of MDMA in a controlled setting and the illicit use of ecstasy at raves or parties?

    K & J: MDMA has many potential side effects, most notably increased blood pressure and heart rate, which must be considered when screening and monitoring clinical subjects. As with other pharmaceuticals, it is important to distinguish between the risks of controlled clinical use of MDMA in research and hospital settings, and illicit use of "ecstasy" of unknown purity and dosage taken in potentially unsafe circumstances without medical supervision.

    It's important to discriminate between medical research and drug policy. One area cannot be used to promote the other, and vice versa. It is inconsistent with traditional medical ethics or outright unethical to block treatment development and research based on drug policy. Drugs with greater potential for dependence and harm than MDMA, such as amphetamines (Adderall) and benzodiazepines (Valium), are widely prescribed for long-term use.

    Treatment with MDMA involves only a few doses in combination with psychotherapy taken in a controlled clinical setting with appropriate medical precautions — for example, pre-screening for heart problems. It's also important to note that MDMA is not being considered for daily use or take-home use. In research studies, including in the United States, MDMA has been given to hundreds of healthy volunteers, with no occurrence of serious problems requiring medical attention. There has been a lot of misunderstanding in the past; fortunately a lot of development in this area over the last 10 years has made the climate ready for change.

    M-M: From reading your paper, it seems the key role MDMA plays is helping patients overcome "emotional avoidance" of the trauma they experienced in the past. What are the biological reasons that MDMA works so well in this context?

    K & J: In order for extinction to begin at all, the PTSD client has to be able to bearably remember and describe the traumatic memory. This is difficult for most PTSD clients. Activation of the fear is required for extinction. Anxiety-reducing pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepines can be counterproductive during exposure therapy (because they can merely suppress the memory for a period of time).

    MDMA is found to do several things: It increases the level of oxytocin related to pro-social behavior and bonding, it increases activity in prefrontal brain areas involved in fear inhibition, and it increases the levels of norepinephrine and acetylcholine, which are neurotransmitters involved in emotional arousal and consolidation of emotional memories, including extinction learning. Consistent with fear inhibition models and translational research, we suggest that MDMA co-administered with prolonged exposure therapy will improve the therapeutic alliance, increase emotional processing and lead to enhanced extinction of fear responses.

    M-M: Why do you think MDMA's potential in this area has been under-appreciated? Is it because of the negative attention on ecstasy?

    K & J: MDMA and treatment research has been caught up with drug policy. However, it is common for new treatments to take a couple of decades to be fully tested and accepted. There is a great deal of interest among clinicians and scientists in the therapeutic potential of MDMA. It has been a silent story for 20 years. Previously, the only published results were open-label case studies. Now we have randomized, placebo-controlled studies.

    We will see more research on the possible therapeutic applications of MDMA. It has been under-appreciated that the neurobiological effects of MDMA fit well with the current understanding of emotional learning and evidence-based treatments for anxiety. There has been a lot of research on MDMA, including clinical studies in over 300 healthy volunteers, but almost all research has focused on the possible risks in a recreational setting.


    Krebs and Johansen would like to see more basic research on the impacts of MDMA on empathy, positive emotions and trust. That means studies in both animals and humans that more closely examine the acute effects of MDMA on behavior, endocrine levels and brain activity in response to emotional stimuli, particularly during the process of fear extinction wherein people can learn to suppress a reaction to fright by repeatedly confronting, in a safe environment, whatever memory or stimulus spurs their anxiety. But so far, there have only been a few studies, which have taken years to get approval, taking a close look at MDMA's therapeutic benefits.

    The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group that funds therapeutic trials of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin and marijuana in accordance with FDA, European and international guidelines, has been working since its founding in 1986 to spur research into MDMA therapy. In February 2004, after approval from the FDA and on-site inspections of laboratories, the DEA gave its first consent to a study of MDMA and post-traumatic stress disorder by Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist in South Carolina. The $1 million project wound down last year, after what MAPS called an "outstanding demonstration of the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with treatment-resistant PTSD."

    MAPS has also initiated a study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with both anxiety and advanced-stage cancer at Harvard Medical School's McLean Hospital, led by Dr. John H. Halpern. There is also a study under way in Israel under the direction of Dr. Moshe Kotler, chair of the department of psychiatry at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and former chief psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces; a similar study has begun in Switzerland. The results of those studies should be released this year, while MAPS is working on initiating additional trials in Canada, Spain, France and Jordan.

    But it's not all progress. MAPS' first study of MDMA's effects on post-traumatic stress disorder began in Spain in February 2000, but the study was halted in May 2002, in spite of sustained positive media attention throughout the country. As the doctor who led the study, Jose Carlos Bouso, wrote to the Spanish Medical Journal: "In May 2002, a news article appeared in the newspaper El Pais informing the public about the realization of that trial. The next day, our research team received an inspection from the General Direction of Pharmacy and Sanitary Products (Dirección General de Farmacía y Productos Sanitarios) belonging to the State of Madrid ... on May 13, 2002, the manager of the Hospital Psiquiatrico de Madrid decided to disassociate the Hospital from the study. Since then, because we have no other hospital in which to finish the study, the study cannot be restarted yet and it is now interrupted." Before the trial's close, six subjects had been treated without any lingering side effects, and there were hints of the program's efficacy.

    In their interview with Miller-McCune, Krebs and Johansen said: "The biological basis of empathy and positive emotions is currently very interesting for neuroscientists. Many scientists would like to study MDMA, in humans and laboratory animals, but they are unsure how to approach this. We hope that our rationale will provide a framework for future studies and a nice reference for grant authorities. It's a promising treatment, being developed internationally, including at Harvard Medical School. Our overall goal is to reduce fear and increase acceptance around the concept of therapeutic use of MDMA."

    By Matt Palmquist
    August 10, 2009
  2. missparkles
    Interesting article, especially the second part about treating PTSD. Sparkles can see this working if the trauma only occurred fairly recently. The problem as she sees it is that PTSD is the unhealthy foundation that she built her life on. Getting rid of the cause would help, but she has built up so much crap (unhealthy coping skills to deal with the original problem) that these are almost as big a problem as the PTSD.
    Her abuse as a child has been compounded by the skewed version of reality it produced. This in turn caused more damage than the original problem.
    But for some sufferers of this all consuming condition, even relief from the symptoms is a bonus. Sparkles has resigned herself to the fact that she will always have to live with it. Sometimes accepting something makes it easier to live with.
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