Medical Molly: It’s Time To Feel Good About MDMA Therapy

I wish I could tell you that MDMA is bad for you and that you should never under any circumstances try it. While there’s no way anyone under the age of 21 should do it, and I mean that, I kind of wish I could be some righteously indignant walking ad campaign that preaches hellfire and brimstone against the drug that’s the basis of molly and ecstasy, especially given my sordid history. That would make me feel very adult and might even, many would argue, benefit society in some small way. Unfortunately, I can’t do it. I just can’t.

I may have done a lot of things I regretted in my 20s and early 30s, particularly involving drugs — but dammit, MDMA just wasn’t one of them. On the contrary, doing ecstasy was a wonderful, even spiritual experience that I shared with a group of close friends; it was the kind of experience I’d never had before and haven’t had since, but I’m glad I did it when I had the chance.

Our merry little tribe of psychonauts was never the type that dropped E and went clubbing until dawn, and only a few times did I engage in the Stations of the Rave and go from place to place looking for where the big secret party was. Mostly, we stayed home. We lit candles and otherwise submerged my apartment in subdued lighting, sometimes bordering on near-darkness. We listened to Orbital and Massive Attack and Portishead. We talked, laughed, danced, bonded, held each other, opened up completely, overcame every fear and inhibition and sometimes even drove out whatever inner demons might have been stalking us.

And that’s exactly what makes MDMA so unique: it breaks down barriers, within and without. As long as it isn’t abused — and I admit that while it’s not physically addictive it can be psychologically addictive, as anything that gives you a feeling of pure post-orgasmic bliss for 5 hours would — it can potentially do wondrous things and have a genuinely positive impact for some people.

Following the early synthesis of it 1976, MDMA was used by quite a few health professionals as a means of therapy for those suffering from severe psychological trauma. The sudden tidal wave of serotonin and oxytocin in a person’s brain creates an overwhelming feeling of tranquility and well-being, so you can imagine the possible benefits for someone suffering from debilitating psychological conditions.

While MDMA is classified a Schedule I drug — its fortunes changed during the height of the pointless war on drugs during the 80s — there’s a new push on to at least be able to use it again for medical purposes, in carefully controlled situations overseen by professionals. The Huffington Post reports that the DEA just greenlit a new clinical study that will test the efficacy and safety of using MDMA to treat anxiety in those with life-threatening illnesses.

The research, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, will allow 18 patients to undergo MDMA-assisted psychotherapy under the supervision of a physician and principle investigator. The whole thing should begin in about two months, once subjects are recruited and all the necessary prep is completed.

This is the latest step in what could be a reevaluation of MDMA by the government, at least insofar as it being designated worthless beyond recreational abuse and therefore illegal across the board. Its potential positive effect on military vets suffering from PTSD is already being studied and it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the new DEA-approved research.

Over the years, this stuff has gotten a bad name, largely because as soon as you mention molly or ecstasy an image immediately comes to mind of 10,000 sweaty, writhing kids who are so fucking high they actually think Avicii is brilliant. But it’s always had the potential to be more than that. I can’t in good conscience suggest that it’s right for everyone, particularly those 10,000 idiot kids. But I also can’t unequivocally say that it should be avoided at all costs. I can only speak for myself, I guess.

Put it this way: When someone used to ask me what doing ecstasy was like, I usually found myself taking an involuntary deep breath, exhaling, and just smiling. Yeah, it’s that good. It’s that powerful an experience.

Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.