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Lucy in the sky with diamonds?

aspaysia's picture
Posts: 253
Joined: Nov 2003

The illegal club drug Ecstasy can trigger euphoria among the dance club set, but can it ease the debilitating anxiety that cancer patients feel as they face their final days.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a pilot study looking at whether the recreational hallucinogen can help terminally ill patients lessen their fears, quell thoughts of suicide and make it easier for them to deal with loved ones.
"End of life issues are very important and are getting more and more attention, and yet there are very few options for patients who are facing death," Dr. John Halpern, the Harvard research psychiatrist in charge of the study, said Monday.
The small, four-month study is expected to begin early next spring. It will test the drug's effects on 12 cancer patients from the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in the Boston area. The research is being sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group that plans to raise $250,000 to fund it.
MAPS, on its web site, touted the study's approval, saying "the longest day of winter has passed, and maybe so has the decades-long era of resistance to psychedelic research."
The FDA would not comment, but this will be the second FDA-approved study using Ecstasy this year. South Carolina researchers ae studying the effects of Ecstasy on 20 patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Ecstasy, known scientifically as MDMA for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a chemical cousin of methamphetamine and typically induces feelings of euphoria, increased energy and sexual arousal. But it also suppresses appetite, thirst and the need to sleep, and in high doses can sharply increase body temperature, leading to kidney and heart failure, and death.
It peaked in 2001 as a trendy recreational drug used by youth at gatherings called "raves" and dance clubs.
Halpern, who has done other research on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, said that some, when used properly, can have medical benefits. He said that unlike LSD, Ecstasy is "ego-friendly," and unlike some pain medications it does not oversedate people and make them foggy and unsteady.
Instead, he said, it can reduce stress and increase empathy. There are anecdotal reports, he said, of people dying of cancer who take Ecstasy and they are able to talk to their family and friends about death and other subjects they couldn't broach before.
"I'm hoping that we can find something that can be of use for people in their remaining days of life," he said. If there are no significant problems, he said broader studies would follow this one.
In addition to FDA approval, the study has also received review board authorization from the Lahey Clinic and Harvard Medical School's psychiatric facility, McLean Hospital. Halpern is awaiting a license from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
It's been more than 40 years since Harvard has been the site of psychedelic drug research - including the infamous LSD studies of Timothy Leary in 1963 and the Good Friday Experiment in 1965, done by Leary's student Walter Pahnke, studying the effects of psilocybin mushrooms on religious people.
But "this is not about trying to create some sensationalistic storm," Halpern said. "This is about trying to help these patients in a meaningful way."

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

When it comes to a patient's final days, nothing should be illegal. If it helps, who does it hurt?

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Thanks for sharing that with us Aspaysia.
Well said Bud!!!
For fear of unleashing a hornets nest here I would like to make a statement.
When my time comes--and it will one day, I would hope I will "legally" be able to choose my own destiny. In other words, if I am in pain and suffering I would like to be able to choose when and how I release myself of that situation in a humane way!!!
If "Tessie"--my cat were suffering I would do the right thing.
Why is it we humans don't have that right?
I am not saying a doctor has the right to make the decision--but certainly I do--or at least should have.
Sorry guys--it is my body, my life after all.
I know this won't please everyone here but I live in a democracy here and have freedom of speech--I just used it.

aspaysia's picture
Posts: 253
Joined: Nov 2003

We had a sick old dog put down last summer. The vet gave her a shot and she went to sleep peacefuly - with her eyes open. Something about the muscles blah blah. We were not listening.
When I was really sick everyone treated me like a pet so why not let me go that way? As much as I like opiates they do make one drowsy. I would like to be alert at the end to say goodbye without pain.
The entire staff signed a card and sent it to us with the remains. Sweet.
Aspaysia, who does not think suffering is noble.

Posts: 238
Joined: Sep 2003

Hi guys,

Going to jump in. I TOTALLY agree with all of the above. The unfounded fears that continue to surround narcotics and marijuana, it just makes me queasy (and its not the CPT-11). According to a pharmacology course I just took, the facts are that nicotine is the most known addictive substance to mankind and alcohol does more long-term damage than many illegal drugs (ESPECIALLY marijuana and even cocaine). Our drug laws make absolutely no "scientific" sense. They are based on racism (the US outlawed THC because it was popular amongst minority groups) and are completely senseless. Advertising from tobacco/alcohol companies knowingly target vulnerable children in their teens when the pressure to conform is immense. Most people start to smoke well before the age of 18. They are still minors when they pick up a life-altering habit - 1 in 2 smokers will die a smoking-related death. Those that binge drink before the age of fifteen are 50% more likely to become addicted. Those are scary statistics (even though, I realize as cancer patients, we hate statistics!!!). I don't pretend to have the answers, I just know that the situation makes me want to cry. To live in a society that pushes lethal drugs on children and deny dying patients much-needed drugs... Absolutely terrible. As for euthanasia, I'm with you Kanga. I understand the hesitancy because we want to protect the disabled from being killed by those who consider them a burden. Still, I'm sure we could make laws that would allow for a more compassionate death for terminally ill patients who want it while protecting others. Ever since I watched my father die from cancer, I have had the sense that the laws need to change. Okay, had my daily rant. Going to go hug a tree now.

Love ya guys!
Andrea, who gets a little carried away sometimes... well often:)

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Here I go again... As a Federal Law Enforcement agent, dealing particularly in drugs...

Sorry, I have to agree with Nanuk, too (don't tell my boss).

I have seen too many good people go out the hard way when there could have been something done to ease them out. What are the bureaucrats afraid of? That we'll kill ourselves?

I know my personal position may sound hypocritical, but I do believe we need to keep these drugs out of UNCONTROLLED use; i.e. children, people who will be out on the streets, people who have no NEED for them, etc. But for people who can benefit from them, I say bring it on.

As for alcohol and cigarrettes, you're right, Andrea. Did you know that the largest market for RJ Reynolds is not here in the US? It's overseas in Asia and Africa and South America. Of course they can afford anti-smoking campaigns here and paying out huge lawsuit settlements here - they're financing it on the backs (well, actually the lungs) of 3rd-tier nation's populations. I think Budweiser Beer's biggest market is Canada... (sorry, I couldn't resist, eh?)

And BTW, Jack Kevorkian is not a murderer. Just my opinion...

- SB ("Doctor says he's coming but you got to pay in cash")

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hey Asp,

Well I am consistent in my beliefs that natural is better than chemical. I have no qualms at all for smoking some dope for medicinal purposes and I would rather take the mushrooms than ecstasy if I needed a trip. I liked mine in tea anyway. Those days are gone, but if cancer comes back with a vengeance and gets the best of me, i have absolutely no problem having a toke and some shrooms. And I don't really care if it's illegal.

The system is all backasswards anyway. Personally I think sugar should be outlawed as a dangerous drug and pot allowed. More people die of sugar related diseases than smoking a little weed.

As for deciding one's own destiny kanga I am sure there are ways. what the problem is with "legalizing" this is the real possibility of it being abused by caretakers. So keeping it illegal protects us. But I know for a fact that there are ways around it for the individual. I just read an article recently that doctors are already practicing this just not documenting it. So when your time comes and you want to make that decision I am sure in the underground you could find someone.

But in order to protect those of us who may not want to end our lives this way, I truly hope it remains illegal.

I pass no judgment on anyone who would choose this though.

I just hope that if I have to suffer at some point that it will have a deeper reason. But this is where we get spiritual......In His suffering He was made perfect......

I think it would be quite hypocritical of the medical establishment to not allow someone ecstacy if it could help them....I mean with all the drugs they do use out there. Sheesh they put kids on Ritalin like it's candy these days....rather than see what their food allergies are .....but that opens a whole hornets nest too! haha.

peace, emily who gives a rip what drugs are legal or not!

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Lordy y'all,

Don't get me started. Alcohol and tobacco have been around much longer then I have, but cancer as it is today, is much newer then those sins. More is causing it then just those 2. Forget about the illegal drugs and watch out for the legal ones (prescribed daily by the latest drug dealers, our doctors). There are no magic pills out there. Stop looking for them and ask your doctor how many nutrition classes they took in med school. Ever wonder why bread don't get moldy anymore? What about milk curdling and spoiling. Leave your favorite snack food out on the counter for a few days and see if it rots or not. If not, it isn't fit for your body.

As far as what I may want or need when my day comes. I will cross that bridge when I get there (and quite honestly, according to the medical industry, I will beat you all there). If the kids can get it, so can I and probably cheaper then the pharmeuceutical companies will sell it for.

I am so angry at our government and medical industry right now. I can not fathom what the billions and billions of dollars on cancer research has all gone to. AND, all they have to offer are the crappy chemo drugs that make us feel like ****. Sure, I got cancer from somewhere and I only have myself and my maker to figure that out with.

I will continue to educate myself on everything I might need to know about. I can now do that since I stopped chemo.

Lisa P (who prefers to be able to stop and smell the flowers instead of being in a stupor and die anyway).

PS. I just reread this and it may seem harsh, but folks chemo wasn't working for me anymore and I was on that "downward spiral" according to the doctors. I do not and will not accept that without finding out why.

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