We Need Ecstasy and Cocaine in Place of Prozac and Xanax

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From Aeon: While psychiatric drugs are often ineffective and can have serious side effects, there are many psychedelics and other illicit substances that have proven highly effective in relieving distress. However, these drugs continue to remain illegal due to an unfounded fear of addiction.

“Instead of worrying so much about addiction, which tends to correct itself when life becomes tolerable, maybe we should worry more about the sources of emotional suffering. Depression not only hurts, it kills. Anxiety drives people to intractable isolation and fertilises stress-linked diseases. Yet the idea of prescribing opioids, cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs to help people feel ‘better’ is, currently, heretical. Are we concerned that people might feel too good? We’d rather stick to antidepressants of minimal therapeutic impact, not because they guard against addiction – they don’t – but because of a puritanical aversion to supplying unearned happiness and, along with it, a deep-seated belief that people who suffer emotionally should just get over it.

Addiction is a side issue. Emotional suffering is the real problem, and it’s complicated. In today’s world, the pressure to meet the expectations of success lead to anxiety, a sense of failure, guilt and depression. Inequality leaves people feeling inferior, envious and sometimes desperate. Depression and anxiety are umbrella terms that obscure enormous diversity in the causes and consequences of emotional pain.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The article sets up a straw man and then proceeds to knock it down. Using psychedelics to “treat” mental health “disorders” dates beck to the 1950s and the experiments of Timothy Leary and Richard Alport (before he was Ram Dass). I think turning to drugs primarily seen as recreational is a sign of how the medical model for the treatment of these “disorders” is bankrupt. Remember that whether you are “treating” depression with Paxil or ketamine, or addiction with ayahuasca or methadone, a drug is a drug is a chemical. And there are potential adverse side effects with them all. We don’t need ecstasy and cocaine to replace Prozac and Xanax—we need a better treatment paradigm than simply turning to another chemical “cure.”

    • Ecstacy (which I have not used) and cocaine might be preferable as “lesser of two evils” when compared with Risperdal and Effexor. They wouldn’t be sold on the street if they were as harmful as the two pharma drugs. If Effexor addicts were not rediagnosed with disorders worse than depression and drugged into insanity as treatment for the new diagnosis (scare quotes implied for both medical terms) it would be banned. If a street drug could be blamed for what Effexor does to people, that drug would be deemed the worst drug ever sold, next to “croqodil”, and those who made and sold it vilified and sent to prison amidst calls for the death penality. Coke and heroin dealers would be released to free up cells for the Effexor Villains.

      There is a situation like that, in which a pharma drug is also a street drug, but the picture is a mirror image of the above. Desoxyn is pharmaceutical meth, and one of the most highly rated drugs (by patients) on Drugs.com. (Drugs.com is 100% mainstream, apparently funded mainly by pharmaceutical ad revenues.) Making it or selling methamphetamine from outside the medical-pharmaceutical complex is a felony. “Impurities!” cry the pharmapologists. “Addiction!” cry the disease-modelists. Both are consequences of the illegality of grassroots manufacturing and distribution, not the chemical.

      IMPURITIES: Meth chefs scrounge for sources of the precursor drug and transform it using chemicals they can get without attracting attention. There’s your impurities. Lethal impurities aren’t common. Meth kitchens (and factories, in China) are in business to make money, and they do well with repeat customers whom they’ve come to trust. Killing off clients means finding new ones and risking selling to undercover cops or snitches. They have no more motivation to sell deadly toxins than GSK has. (GSK does it, though. GSK sells more lethal doses of various drugs to more people than any street maker could ever reach. We don’t know their motivation.)

      ADDICTION: Addiction to a drug is alleged when withdrawal symptoms occur during abstinence. Abstinence in grassroots users occurs when a meth manufacturer or supplier goes to prison. Patients prescribed the drug and supplied by pharmacies, for years, rarely face abstinence. When they do, they are not described as addicts, even if they claim tiredness and low motivation upon ceasing use for any reason. Their suppliers go to awards banquets, not court hearings.

      Distinctions among drugs serve social and financial purposes. Street, pharma, they’re just drugs. Where street drugs have the moral upper hand is that no one is ordered to use them or locked up for failing to use them. Once again, it’s a mirror image situation. People are ordered to use pharma drugs and kept prisoner in medical institutions for not taking them or for saying they will not take them in the future. Worst of all is saying they don’t need them. Taking them can kill them, give them the nightmare of tardive dyskinesia, or make them feel horrible, suicidal, fully wrecked, for years, maybe all their lives, while taking them and after stopping.

      If that’s not the crime of this and the previous centuries, I’ll eat my hat.