Illustration for article titled Prescription Ecstasy? The Government Is Testing It, And Psychiatrists Are iRaving/i About The Benefits...

The government's giving out Ecstasy! Well, you know, as part of a clinical trial to explore the possible health benefits of being surrounded by love and warmth and people wearing parachute pants. The results look promising, reports the Washington Post Magazine in a really wonderful, affirming cover story that suggests the drug could be available with a prescription within five years for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. How exactly do you fake that? A sufferer named Donna Kilgore, who came down with a severe case after getting raped, explains that for years "I would put my finger on my arm, and it would be like touching a dead a body" (i. e. kind of like what it's like coming down from Ecstasy.) Antidepressant after antidepressant failed Donna... and then she became the first patient in the Ecstasy trial. "Now I feel all warm and fuzzy," she said on her first try. Just two doses was all it took to fill her with the "all-consuming love" she thought she'd "lost forever." Aw! Results were similar on other PTSD patients, which is good, because there's a war on, and that can be traumatic.


And soldiers who come back traumatized tend to spend years talking out their issues with taxpayer-funded shrinks and never actually getting anywhere with that.

Conveniently, although it isn't mentioned in the story, Israel is a huge hub of the ecstasy trade, and it is also relatively close to a lot of traumatic events, so in the meantime troops who are reading this, we wouldn't want to advocate self-medicating, except that, ha ha ha, we sort of do.


In all seriousness, though, the piece is really interesting because Ecstasy was really the first new drug to come along in the Just Say No era —it was embraced by this crazy psychedelic-loving shrink who introduced it to a friend of his, who helped it find its way to the Dallas club scene, and within a few months the DEA came in and ruined the whole party and it was illegal. So they never really got a chance to test its possible benefits, and every time they tried they were presented with some research about how Ecstasy, like, drills holes in monkey brains, except...

In the case of the primate test subjects, the Science article said, the drug was so toxic that two of 10 animals died, and two more were in such bad shape that the researchers didn't give them a planned third injection.

After 2 1/2 years of work, the PTSD study appeared to be doomed.

A year later, Science printed a retraction: The vials containing the drugs that so damaged the monkeys' brains had been mislabeled. It wasn't MDMA after all, but methamphetamine. A new review board quickly signed on to support Mithoefer's study, but the irony of the wasted year wasn't lost on him: The misidentified drug that had been deemed too toxic to evaluate for medical use, the drug that was far more toxic than MDMA, was already a prescription drug.

At which point you're like, whoa, meth is a prescription drug??

It sure is! And if the Adderall ain't working like it used to, you might want to look into getting a prescription...


But back to Ecstasy: it sounds like a really positive development that the psychiatric community is looking into its possible benefits, and they're thinking of giving it to terminal cancer patients too, and you kind of have to think it would be good for post-partum depression and anger management as well, and maybe the terrorists could use a few pills, and if the whole world has to wander around holding hands and gnawing on pacifiers maybe that's a small price to pay.

The Peace Drug [Washington Post Magazine]

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