Relationship partners who take MDMA together enter a “bubble” where they feel free to express their deepest emotions, and the illicit drug could be used for therapy within 10 years, an expert has told The Independent.
A study into the use of the illegal drug by couples has suggested it can help them discuss their issues “free of fear” – talking about everything from sexual fantasies and infidelity to difficult memories, according to Katie Anderson, a doctoral researcher in applied sciences at London Southbank University.
Within what Anderson calls the “MDMA bubble", couples reported that otherwise difficult conversations felt “organic” and “natural”, and that they understood their partner on a deeper level.
“There were some extraordinary experiences where the sense of closeness MDMA created was so profound that the most fundamental boundary of all was blurred: that between self and other,” she says.
“We were not two people, we were one person,” a couple told her. Another pair described taking MDMA in the bath and how “the dimly lit, watery surroundings seem to precipitate a fluidity of selves. It felt like we were fused together. Like one piece.”
Both male and female participants reported that men were more emotionally vulnerable and open on the drug.
The feelings of the “bubble” lingered after the drug wore off, too, explains Anderson, as they were reminded of their experiences. The drug created a “nice clean slate”, one pair said.
While some were worried that they were “developing a chemical romance”, they found that the feelings of closeness remained.
World's 10 deadliest street drugs
World's 10 deadliest street drugs
1/10 10. Purple Drank
One of the more unusual drugs around at the moment, purple drank was popularised in 90s hip hop culture, with the likes of Jay Z and Big Moe all mentioning it in their songs. It is a concoction of soda water, sweets and cold medicine, and is drunk due to cold medicines high codeine content, which gives the user a woozy feeling. However it can also cause respiratory issues and heart failure
2/10 9. Scopolamine
Scopolamine is a derivative from the nightshade plant found in the Northern Indian region of South America (Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela). It is generally found in a refined powder form, but can also be found as a tea. The drug is more often used by criminals due its high toxicity level (one gram is believed to be able to kill up to 20 people) making it a strong poison. However, it is also believed that the drug is blown into the faces of unexpecting victims, later causing them to lose all sense of self-control and becoming incapable of forming memories during the time they are under the influence of the drug. This tactic has reportedly been used by gangs in Colombia where there have been reports of people using scopolamine as way to convince victims to rob their own homes
3/10 8. Heroin
Founded in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright, heroin is one of the world’s oldest drugs. Originally it was prescribed as a strong painkiller used to treat chronic pain and physical trauma. However in 1971 it was made illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Since then it has become one of the most destructive substances in the world, tearing apart communities and destroying families. The side effects of heroin include inflammation of the gums, cold sweats, a weak immune system, muscular weakness and insomnia. It can also damage blood vessels which can later cause gangrene if left untreated
4/10 7. Crack cocaine
Crack cocaine first came about in the 1980’s when cocaine became a widespread commodity within the drug trafficking world. Originally cocaine would have attracted a high price tag due to its rarity and difficulty to produce, but once it became more widespread the price dropped significantly. This resulted in drug dealers forming their cocaine into rock like shapes by using baking soda as a way of distilling the powder down into rock form. People were doing this because it allowed for them to sell cocaine at a lower quantity and to a higher number of people. The side effects of crack cocaine include liver, kidney and lung damage, as well as permanent damage to blood vessels, which can often lead to heart attacks, strokes, and ultimately death
5/10 6. Crystal meth
Not just famous because of a certain Walter H White, but also because it is one of the most destructive drugs in the world. First developed in 1887, it became widely used during the Second World War when both sides would give it to their troops to keep them awake. It is also believed that the Japanese gave it to their Kamikaze pilots before their suicide missions. After the war crystal meth was prescribed as a diet aid and remained legal until the 1970s. Since then it has fallen into the hands of Mexican gangs and has become a worldwide phenomenon, spreading throughout Europe and Asia. The effects of crystal meth are devastating. In the short-term users will become sleep depraved and anxious, and in the long-term it will cause their flesh to sink, as well as brain damage and damage of the blood vessels
6/10 5. AH-7921
AH-7921 is a synthetic opioid that was previously available to legally purchase online from vendors until it became a Class A in January 2015. The drug is believed to have 80% of the potency of morphine, and became known as the ‘legal heroin’. While there has only been one death related to AH-7921 in the UK, it is believed to be highly dangerous and capable of causing respiratory arrest and gangrene
7/10 4. Flakka
Flakka is a stimulant with a similar chemical make-up to the amphetamine-like drug found in bath salts. While the drug was originally marketed as a legal high alternative to ecstasy, the effects are significantly different. The user will feel an elevated heart rate, enhanced emotions, and, if enough is digested, strong hallucinations. The drug can cause permanent psychological damage due to it affecting the mood regulating neurons that keep the mind’s serotonin and dopamine in check, as well as possibly causing heart failure
8/10 3. Bath salts
Bath salts are a synthetic crystalline drug that is prevalent in the US. While they may sound harmless, they certainly aren’t the sort of salts you drop into a warm bath when having a relaxing night in, they are most similar to mephedrone, and have recently been featured throughout social media due to the ‘zombification’ of its. The name comes from the fact that the drug was originally sold online, and widely disguised as bath salts. The side effects include unusual psychiatric behaviour, psychosis, panic attacks and violent behaviour, as well as the possibility of a heart attack and an elevated body temperature
9/10 2. Whoonga
Whoonga is a combination of antiretroviral drugs, used to treat HIV, and various cutting agents such as detergents and poisons. The drug is widely available in South Africa due to South Africa’s high rate of HIV sufferers, and is believed to be popular due to how cheap it is when compared to prescribed antiretrovirals. The drug is highly addictive and can cause major health issues such as internal bleeding, stomach ulcers and ultimately death
10/10 1. Krokodil
Krokodil is Russia’s secret addiction. It is believed that over one million Russians are addicted to the drug. Users of krokodil are attracted to the drug due to its low price; it is sold at £20 a gram while heroin is sold for £60. However, krokodil is considered more dangerous than heroin because it is often homemade, with ingredients including painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid and industrial cleaning agents. This chemical make-up makes the drug highly dangerous and likely to cause gangrene, and eventually rotting of the flesh
To make her findings for her initial study, Anderson asked couples aged between 24 and 60 years old who had taken MDMA together five times or more to describe how the experiences influenced their relationship. The first stage involved interviewing 10 couples, and the second stage involved diaries and individual interviews.
MDMA, which can be taken as a powder or pill, is a synthetic psychoactive drug which triggers parts of the brain linked with happiness and euphoria, and also boosts energy levels. Most significant for this study though, it also boosts empathy. As MDMA is illegal, it can be cut with harmful substances when bought on the street. It also affects the body’s temperature controls, meaning some people, although generally only those who are not properly informed as to the risks and precautions, can become dehydrated or drink dangerous amounts of water.
However, Anderson is among researchers working to understand how pure, laboratory-controlled psychoactive drugs could be used for therapy. Last year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency approved the use of MDMA by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychadelic Studies (Maps) in a study into post-traumatic stress disorder.
“In 10 years’ time, no one will bat an eyelid if you say you are going to a MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session,” Anderson says. “The scientific evidence is building for the both the safety and efficacy of these therapies and the public will respond to that. Polls already suggest that public opinion on the regulation of other drugs such as cannabis has shifted, with 47 per cent in favour of sale from licensed premises.
But she added a stigma around such research remains, and referred to former government advisor Professor David Nutt needing to crowdfund £50,000 to complete a study into LSD brain imaging.
“I would like to see this stigma fade so that we can conduct the research needed to give us a real, evidence-based picture about the true potential value and harm of illicit drugs.”Reuse content