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Pros and Cons of Regulated MDMA Use

MDMA was discovered in 1912. It was first used to improve psychotherapy in the 1970s, when therapists noticed it made patients more open and less defensive. It became popular as a street drug in the 1980s. Although it was banned in 1985, it has remained a popular party drug. MDMA is a stimulant that increases empathy, well-being, and sensation while decreasing anxiety and sense of self. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the therapeutic possibilities of MDMA, and advocates have renewed their push to study the drug further.


Therapeutic use. MDMA is currently being studied as a means of treating anxiety disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, social anxiety in autistic people, and anxiety in terminally ill patients. In 2016, the FDA approved large scale clinical trials using MDMA to treat otherwise resistant PTSD.

MDMA is also being studied as a treatment for addiction. In 2017, a study in the UK began investigating whether MDMA could help alcoholics who have not responded to other forms of treatment. The idea is that MDMA would better allow addicts to work through the trauma at the root of their addiction. Therapists would be able to help them process experiences that would be too painful to revisit without the help of the drug.

You know what you’re getting. Almost all MDMA is currently manufactured illegally, which means a pill could really be anything. Many pills have no MDMA in them at all, leaving you to wonder what the do have in them. Often they are full of chemical approximations or fillers. You just don’t know. With regulated manufacturing, you would know what you’re getting and at what dose.

The dangers are minimal. MDMA is not particularly addictive, partly because it’s a party drug only used in certain environments and partly because it depletes serotonin, leaving you feeling depressed for several days after use. Many people quit using because of the depression. Some studies have shown MDMA is less physically and psychologically addictive than cannabis and far less addictive than other stimulants, like meth and cocaine. While there are dangers of overuse, very few people overuse MDMA, especially in a therapeutic setting.


Can have dangerous side-effects. While MDMA is one of the least dangerous recreational drugs, it can cause jaw clenching, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, and paranoia. It can also cause hyperthermia and dehydration. These can be particularly dangerous at clubs or parties because prolonged dancing amid warm bodies can result in heat exhaustion. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are what cause MDMA related deaths.

Too much can change your brain. Long-term or high-dosage use has shown to cause lesions in several areas of the brain. These lesions can cause cognitive changes, including depression, insomnia, and changes in serotonin that affect concentration and memory.

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