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MDMA and PTSD
December 3, 2003 1:21 PM   Subscribe

A study to see if MDMA can help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is finally set to begin. Coordinated and funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the study was originally approved in 2001 (and discussed here.) Another study has identified a protein in mice which is the key to the overheating associated with ecstasy, and may lead to a treatment for people. Hopefully this research was more sound than the recent study in which the test monkeys were given the wrong drug (discussed here.)
posted by homunculus (22 comments total)

 
If there is anything that MDMA could help, PTSD sounds like a very likely candidate, judging from the effects.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2003


It's about damn time.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:55 PM on December 3, 2003


Given that an aftereffect of MDMA use has been shown in some studies at least to be long-term serotonin depletion and corresponding (and to be expected) anxiety increases, this seems a bit wrongheaded.

But all the results are by no means in, I'm aware.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2003


From stavros' link: Rats were given MDMA (5 mg/kg i.p. once per hour for 4 h) Rats were given MDMA (5 mg/kg i.p. once per hour for 4 h) or vehicle injections on each of two consecutive days... These results are consistent with human studies suggesting that exposure to high doses of MDMA may predispose to long-term psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

The typical ecstasy dose is about 1-1.5mg/kg once. Injecting MDMA would be extremely out of the ordinary as well.
posted by 4easypayments at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2003


I also love how they always seem to use extraordinary large doses to demonstrate the toxicity of MDMA.
posted by daHIFI at 3:42 PM on December 3, 2003


The typical ecstasy dose is about 1-1.5mg/kg once.

Bah. I know many many people who take MDMA, and I know precisely one who has taken it only once.

As well, one assumes that if it were to be used as a treatment for a disorder of some kind, it would be used regularly. Only once wouldn't be much good now, would it?

I also love how they always seem to use extraordinary large doses to demonstrate the toxicity of MDMA.

If we were talking orders of magnitude difference in dosages here, I might concede your point, but the difference between 1.5 mg/kg and 5 mg/kg isn't that much, to be honest. It certainly isn't 'extraordinarily high'.

Still, as I said, the jury is out. And as I understand it, brain chemistry is still less than perfectly understood. So who knows?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2003


I have two friends that took Ecstacy about 7-8 times a few years ago, and it significantly changed their lives for the better. I think people that have a long standing personal problem that is painful to deal with, E can be a huge help. Although this effect wears off with repeated use, I'm told, it can really help someone face problems that he/she might be avoiding. It makes you much more in tune with other people's feelings, and also makes you happy enough to be willing to acknowlege problems and formulate solutions. Even if it does cause some brain damage, I think there are a lot of people who could fix big problems in their lives with a few doses.
posted by cameldrv at 3:59 PM on December 3, 2003


Even if it does cause some brain damage, I think there are a lot of people who could fix big problems in their lives with a few doses.

Which is exactly how poppa feels about alcohol.
posted by yerfatma at 4:10 PM on December 3, 2003


Bah. I know many many people who take MDMA, and I know precisely one who has taken it only once.

As well, one assumes that if it were to be used as a treatment for a disorder of some kind, it would be used regularly. Only once wouldn't be much good now, would it?


Stavros, I think the point would be that you wouldn't take it once an hour for four hours, and you wouldn't take over three times the regular dosage. That would result in over twelve times the expected dosage, which is probably not advisable even for something as simple as cough syrup.
posted by The God Complex at 4:27 PM on December 3, 2003


I've known plenty of people who have taken six or more tablets of Ecstasy during the course of a rave. I know plenty of people who have taken four or more tablets of Ecstasy every weekend for years.

Having said that, it's true that there are plenty of experiments showing that excessive dosages of legal and "safe" drugs lead to serious physiological consequences.

However, street drugs and their sellers are by nature unregulated. To assume that the supply of Ecstasy out there in the wild is appropriately concentrated or even pure is naive in the extreme.

I do think that Ecstasy should be legalized, though. On the other hand, I think that people who credit their use of the drug for major psychological or spiritual breakthroughs are idiots.

And I say this as an Effexor-poppin', whiskey-drinkin', chocolate-eatin' thirty-something who has ingested all imaginable non-injectable drugs, including Ecstasy, mushrooms, peyote, mescaline, salvia divinorum, opium, and my grandmother's sugar cookies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:29 PM on December 3, 2003


who has ingested all imaginable non-injectable drugs, including Ecstasy, mushrooms

Mushrooms? That's worse than murder!
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on December 3, 2003


As well, one assumes that if it were to be used as a treatment for a disorder of some kind, it would be used regularly. Only once wouldn't be much good now, would it?

Why would it have to be used regularly to be effective? Therapists who administered MDMA to patients before prohibition used it to overcome specific sticking points in treatment.
posted by lasm at 5:55 PM on December 3, 2003


Therapists who administered MDMA to patients before prohibition used it to overcome specific sticking points in treatment.

That's how I understand this study, too. I don't think they intend for the patients to take it regularly, but are rather seeking a breakthrough event in conjunction with talk therapy: "the researchers want to see if the emotional closeness reported by clubbers taking the drug can help victims of rape and sexual abuse talk to therapists."
posted by homunculus at 6:20 PM on December 3, 2003


Sidhedevil, I think the Effexor isn't working out. :)
posted by alicesshoe at 6:36 PM on December 3, 2003


Well, I'll claim that "idiot" label, Sidhedevil. I wouldn't say MDMA cured my depression, exactly, but it put me in a state of mind where I was able to untangle the loop I kept getting stuck in. I still feel dark moods sometimes, but I don't fall off the cliff anymore. It was a powerful and surprising mental readjustment, the more so since I was just looking to have some fun. I have no trouble at all imagining how a single therapy session using MDMA could bring about a marked improvement in someone's mental health.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:45 PM on December 3, 2003


Well, Mars Saxman, you could be right and I could be wrong. Or you could be experiencing the placebo effect. Absent serious controlled studies, we won't know--another good argument for legalization and study!

Alicesshoe, the Effexor isn't for the crabby, it's for the depression. The whiskey is for the crabby! ;)
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:53 PM on December 3, 2003


That would result in over twelve times the expected dosage, which is probably not advisable even for something as simple as cough syrup.

Actually, that much cough syrup can get you high. And it's a pretty nice high, too.

Don't mess around combining it with MDMA though. I took some dxm three days after doing MDMA (with Mars, actually) and ended up in the hospital with a rather severe psychosis. Pretty much destroyed my life and it's been two and a half years and I'm still picking up the pieces.

Drugs can have extreme effects when combined or taken in succession. Please be careful, people.
posted by beth at 9:49 PM on December 3, 2003


I trust there will be some adequate trance music to supplant the MDMA in this study? :-)
posted by nofundy at 4:48 AM on December 4, 2003


I hear what Sidhedevil and Mars are saying, and understand entirely, from the lysergic perspective. Drugs are good, and this I've always believed, if you're strong enough to subsume the experiences they give into your identity.

I hereby withdraw my devil's advocacy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 AM on December 4, 2003


Man, that brings me back. We used to do that in college a lot. Our student fees paid for three helpings of any of a number of over-the-counter medications per day, so we would load up on three bottles of Robitussin and then chug them all. We called it strobing, and it was an interesting and overall pleasant sensation. Seems kinda pathetic to me now though.

Ironically, at the same time, I was working for Rick stuffing envelopes for MAPS and getting paid in pizzas.
posted by donkeymon at 5:24 AM on December 4, 2003


Well, as far as that goes, Sidhedevil, I agree completely; it's time to apply the scientific method and find out what's really going on.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:26 AM on December 4, 2003


I used to like ecstasy a lot, but then I took some and it messed with my brain for three weeks - my vision was 'dropping frames', I felt dizzy all the time and thought I had caused permanent and irreperable damage. I guess it was a 'bad pill', but anyway, I won't take it any more, unless I can guarantee it is pure MDMA. Rather, I will stick with magic mushrooms, which, when fresh, are perfectly legal to both sell and consume in the UK (at least for the time being), as noted in the front page story in the Guardian last saturday.

You know what you are getting with mushrooms, sort of, and the pretty pictures are fun. I have used them in conjunction with psychotherapy and found the 'little teachers' very beneficial.
posted by rikabel at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2003


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