More creeping common sense on drugs
While opioid use in America has reached crisis proportions, and black market cocaine and amphetamines are as easily accessible and cheap as ever, there is another category of drugs that few notice is having a renaissance. The use of psychedelic drugs for medicinal purposes could be legal by 2021. Personal use is trending upwards as well, although with a different lifestyle purpose than in the notorious decade of the tune in, turn on, drop out ’60s.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is now accepting volunteers for a phase III study of the effectiveness of MDMA for treatment of Post Traumatice Stress Disorder (PTSD). Phase III is the final stage before legalization. The Food and Drug Administration has already reviewed the first two phases, and in its opinion MDMA—known on the street as molly or ecstacy—“may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints, such as substantial treatment effects observed early in clinical development” (benchmark language in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act).
Phase II tested MDMA on female rape victims and Afghanistan war veterans who suffered from severe PTSD. Eighty percent of subjects recovered dramatically, so that their PTSD no longer was severe. The placebo therapy had a 25 percent recovery expectation. Follow-up studies showed the healing was long term.
Nigel McCourry, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, was amazed at the dramatic effects of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. After years of insomnia and nightmares, he was suddenly able to sleep through the night, and within two years, he felt like this “huge healing event had taken place” because he finally “had this sense of separation from the experiences of Marine combat.” MDMA in a clinical setting increases trust and reduces the fear of re-living traumatic events. The FDA also noted the drug was only administered a few times to each patient, and so had life-changing properties. They called MDMA a “breakthrough therapy.”
Molly the street drug has long been associated with all-night dance parties to electronic dance music (raves). The street drug purity is generally low, only averaging 35 percent in America. Because it increases empathy and euphoria people can dance for hours on a single dose. This can cause severe dehydration and in rare cases even death. The very simple cure, mandated by law in Amsterdam, where the dosage level of MDMA is twice as high as in America, is to require rave organizers to provide a cooling off area with plenty of water. Regulated legal use of MDMA would also reduce negative dehydration effects in America.
While MAPS has also finished phase II studies in LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) therapy, the more interesting new use of the drug is its burgeoning popularity among young professionals as a nootropic drug rather than a hallucinogen. Nootropic or “smart drugs” are used to increase brain power—that is, cognitive ability and memory function. Extreme sports enthusiasts and some Silicon Valley executives have microdosed LSD for years. A Timothy Leary-style dose of LSD could reach 200 micrograms, but a psycholitic dose is only 6-25 micrograms. The object is not a complete immersion in the subconscious self, but to function with enhanced concentration and stamina in normal creative work environments or increase unity with nature and body in extreme sports.
Groups like the Third Wave are now organizing three-day retreats in Amsterdam where new users learn how to microdose for professional success. The retreat goals are quite corporate, emphasizing leadership and communication skills. Will the three-martini business lunch be replaced by the psylocybin mushroom salad?Corrections
This commentary reported, “The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is now accepting volunteers for a phase III study of the effectiveness of MDMA for treatment of Post Traumatice Stress Disorder (PTSD). Phase III is the final stage before legalization.”
Actually, enrollment in the Phase 3 trials has not yet started. MAPS currently expects enrollment to begin in May or June of this year.
The commentary further reported results from the completed Phase 2 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy that were just from the first trial.
These are the correct overall Phase 2 results: “In MAPS’ completed Phase 2 trials with 107 participants, 61% no longer qualified for PTSD after three sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy two months following treatment. At the 12-month follow-up, 68% no longer had PTSD. All participants had chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD, and had suffered from PTSD for an average of 17.8 years.”
People who are interested in learning more can visit maps.org/participate.
We apologize for the errors.