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David Rothfuss

on 12 April 2013

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The History and Medical
Potential of MDMA David Rothfuss MDMA = 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine Better known by its street name "Molly" 1/4 of all Americans age 20-29 have used the drug
Popularity continues to rise amongst youth
Largely due to growing EDM scene
Lack of quality control = MDMA related emergency room visits
8 cases in 1990 800 cases in 1999 Gaining lots of bad publicity due to youth involvement... However.... = MDMA Ecstasy Ecstasy is dangerous Usually contains MDMA but is cut with harmful adulterants
MDMA cannot be pressed into pills, not good for distribution
Can contain:
Baking Soda Despite the negative reputation of MDMA,
it has huge medical potential and was condemned before proper research could be conducted. Discovered in 1912 by Merck
Looking for drug for blood clotting
Lay dormant until the 70's
Alexander Shulgin - famous for work with psychoactive compounds
Published first report on subjective effects of MDMA
First to suggest medical potential of MDMA Based on his own experience he described:
feelings of closeness to others
general well being
insightful mindset MDMA's popularity in EDM continued to grow Granted users the energy to dance all night
Added benefit of feeling emotionally connected to those around
Heightened senses (visual & auditory
Its popularity was its downfall... Shulgin recognized that the subjective effects combined with the fact that the user still feels themselves and does not have loss of control could be beneficial in psychotherapy Described in his paper his method of using MDMA to create a comfortable and safe environment for the patient Gave a small dosage to retiring therapist Leo Zeff
After experiencing the effects Zeff came out of retirement determined to spread the method to therapists everywhere
An estimated 4,000 therapists were using MDMA therapy at its peak Chicago police seized first MDMA containing tablets in 1970
The DEA emergency scheduled MDMA as a schedule 1 drug
Medical and scientific community was outraged, demanded an administrative hearing
After many positive testimonies and months of work, Judge Francis Young declared MDMA should be a schedule 3 drug
Allowed doctors to prescribe the drug Unfortunately the DEA claimed Young was biased and shortsighted.
Overruled the decision, making MDMA permanently schedule 1 This appeared to effectively end the research into MDMA's positive uses
Merck still held patent, no other company could make money off the drug
In order to be FDA approved research needed to be funded
No company wanted to fund the safety research
Additionally, MDMA treatments are only used a few times per patient
Pharmaceutical companies want a drug they can market to people for life Enter MAPS...
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Non-profit organization
Believe modern pharmaceutical research is driven too much by profit Inspired by success stories from when
MDMA was legal to administer “MDMA allowed me, for the first time, to sit with the details of the event, and separate them from what was happening in the present. I was able to relax my body. I was able to say, 'this is not happening to you right now.’ ” In 2001 the US Food and Drug Administration gave MAPS permission to begin human testing of MDMA Committed to 10 year, $15 million dollar research plan
Aim is to make MDMA an FDA approved prescription drug for the treatment of PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In response to serious accident or crime
Suffer from false perception of personal threats
10 to 20% of people who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD
Around 8% of entire population has PTSD
Traditional remission time is 3 years with treatment and 6 years without
Patients have increased medical costs and decreased quality of life
Only 2 FDA approved treatments are SSRI's, which are generally not effective The success of this first proof of principle trial showed that MDMA can provide long lasting and meaningful benefits with no neurological damage after only a few MDMA assisted therapy sessions
Since the conclusion of this preliminary experiment, additional clinical trials have begun, are in planning, or are waiting for approval all around the world to gather sufficient data to present to the FDA So how can MDMA help? ? Typical therapy methods for PTSD involve reducing symptoms and stop stress-induced neurochemical abnormalities
Do so by slowly working up to discussing the traumatic event in the patient's life
Theory is once they can openly talk about the event they will be able to eliminate the unjustified fear
However this can be a long and tedious process... Classified as an amphetamine + stimulant
Some people believe it should have its own classification
Empathogen - psychoactive drugs characterized by the emotional and social affects of MDMA Structurally it resembles both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline
MDMA is optically active
The dextrorotatory isomer (S+) has higher activity than the levorotatory isomer
Potent agonist of the TAAR1, a GPCR regulating monaminergic system
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