Pubdate: Thu, 25 May 2000
Source: New Times (CA)
Author: Alan McAfee


Your May 18 feature article "The Agony of the Ecstasy" reminds me that 
journalistic pursuits often fall prey to omissions of truth, skewing social 
perceptions about drugs in general and in this case MDMA.

Ecstasy or MDMA, was first synthesized in 1914 and originally sold as a 
diet pill. It was rediscovered in the 1960s and used by psychologists in 
therapy of individuals and couples in the 1970s and 1980s as a tool to 
enhance empathy. While its effects are profound for the user, its 
recommended use was limited to once a year. For this reason the 
pharmaceutical industry opted for other psychotropic drugs like Prozac, 
which would insure continued profits since the user would require daily 
doses of dependent use over years and decades.

In 1986 it was made illegal in the U.S. and only then did it become popular 
as a street drug and used at parties and raves in the U.S. and Europe. The 
black market took over, where private regulated business would not. It may 
be true that young people are abusing MDMA, but like LSD in the 1970s, its 
widespread use will fade.

What young people need is calm and understanding, not reactionary 
proclamations from New Times alarming the public that "so many people" are 
in denial about "SLO county's drug epidemic." This is blatantly false and 
can only further endanger our young people.

We should teach our youth, since they will experiment with drugs, that 
irresponsible drug use leads to abuse and health consequences. To do that 
we need responsible journalism that encourages our youth to use drugs, 
licit or otherwise, responsibly. To do that we need the specifics about 
drugs. We should have empathy, teach moderation, and be true about our 
concerns for their health and well-being. If we do that all of society will 

Alan McAfee, Nipomo
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