More and more women are self-treating with psychedelics to relieve their symptoms.
Ecstasy: The New Drug Underground
This article addresses the questions that are raised by the conflict of governmental banning of drugs that are of potential value in psychotherapy and the therapist’s determination to continue exploring their use, despite this.
Rave and religion? A contemporary youth phenomenon as seen through the lens of religious studies
This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of raves. Although explicit religious references abound in rave culture and also in scholarly interpretations of raves, these references are generally analogous and avoid direct mention of “religion” proper. In this article, we apply the theory of displacement of religious experience and the sacred to draw out the structural and phenomenological religious homology of raves and set the study of this youth phenomenon and the subculture which surrounds it firmly within the field of religious studies. We also propose avenues for further investigation. The article begins with a brief history and definition of “rave.” Then it turns to the symbolic and religious references found in raves as well as the meanings both participants and commentators attribute to this phenomenon. Third, it presents and discusses the ritual structure of rave, using the theory of the mechanism and dynamics of the transgression-fuelled festal ritual (la fête), as defined by Georges Bataille. Its purpose is to contribute to an understanding of how contemporary religious economy develops, particularly a religious economy that concerns a now largely secularized youth.
Solidarity and Drug Use in The Electronic Dance Music Scene
Current research and theory on rave culture has articulated a link between solidarity and drug use, although the precise nature of this relationship remains unclear. Work conducted in the field of cultural studies contends that while rave participants engage in drug use, it is by no means the exclusive source of solidarity. However, work in the fields of public health and medical science portrays rave culture as a site of extensive drug consumption and personal risk, where solidarity is dismissed or dubiously acknowledged as chemically induced. Prior research has not sought to reconcile this tension, or to consider how the relationship between drug use and solidarity may have changed over time. Using data from a multimethod ethnography of the rave scene in Philadelphia, we found the drug use–solidarity relationship substantially more complicated than prior scholarship has articulated. Our discoveries, consequently, provide clarification of this relationship as well as advance the literatures on solidarity, collective identity, youth culture, and music scenes.
The Shaman and the Rave Party: Social Pharmacology of Ecstasy
Current psychobiological models of drug addiction are focused on the capability of drugs to cause a pathological exploitation of the neural rewarding system. This approach has emphasized the role of hedonistic factors in the etiology of drug addiction. Comparing primitive and modern settings of intoxication, such as shamanic rituals and rave parties, it is possible to confute this assumption. The archaic way of perceiving and elaborating drug effects mainly determined their use as being for supernatural purposes and excluded recreational purposes. Only after a completely profane setting of drug use was developed, did psychoactive drugs express all their hedonistic potentialities. This development, however, has been a slow process.
Trends in Drug Use among Electronic Dance Music Party Attendees in New York City, 2016-2019
Objective: Electronic dance music (EDM) party attendees are a high-risk population for drug use and associated adverse effects. We examined trends in past-year drug use within this population to better inform prevention and harm reduction efforts.
Methods: Each summer from 2016 through 2019, we used time-space sampling to survey a cross-section of adults entering EDM parties at randomly selected nightclubs and at dance festivals in New York City. Ns ranged from 504 (2019) to 1,087 (2016). We estimated log-linear trends in past-year use of 16 different synthetic drugs or drug classes.
Results: Between 2016 and 2019, estimated past-year prevalence of use of ketamine increased from 5.9% to 15.3% (a 157.6% relative increase; P=.007), LSD use increased from 9.9% to 16.6% (a 67.7% relative increase, P<.001), powder cocaine use increased from 17.3% to 35.2% (a 103.5% relative increase, P<.001), and GHB use increased from 1.0% to 4.2% (a 311.8% relative increase; P=.002). Past-year use of ≥3 drugs increased from 12.7% to 20.5% (a 61.4% relative increase; P=.013); however, estimated past-year use of unknown powders decreased from 2.0% to 1.1% (a relative 44.7% decrease; P=.038) and ecstasy/MDMA/Molly use was stable across years (at 25.0-28.5%; P=.687). Conclusions: Reports of powder cocaine, LSD, ketamine, and GHB are becoming more prevalent among EDM party attendees. Prevention and harm reduction efforts are needed to address increasing use. Research is also needed to examine whether increasing media coverage of medical use of ketamine and other psychedelics affects prevalence of recreational use.
The early use of MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) in psychotherapy (1977–1985)
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, was first synthesized in 1912 but first reached widespread popularity as a legal alternative after the much sought-after recreational drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-amphetamine (MDA) was made illegal in 1970. Because of its benign, feeling-enhancing, and nonhallucinatory properties, MDMA was used by a few dozen psychotherapists in the United States between 1977 and 1985, when it was still legal. This article looks into the contexts and practices of its psychotherapeutic use during these years. Some of the guidelines, recommendations, and precautions developed then are similar to those that apply to psychedelic drugs, but others are specific for MDMA. It is evident from this review that the therapists pioneering the use of MDMA were able to develop techniques (and indications/counterindications) for individual and group therapy that laid the groundwork for the use of MDMA in later scientific studies. In retrospect, it appears that the perceived beneficial effects of MDMA supported a revival of psycholytic/psychedelic therapy on an international scale.
The History of MDMA as an Underground Drug in the United States, 1960–1979
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine, a.k.a. “ecstasy”) was first synthesized in 1912 and resynthesized more than once for pharmaceutical reasons before it became a popular recreational drug. Partially based on previously overlooked U.S. government documentation, this article reconstructs the early history of MDMA as a recreational drug in the U.S. from 1960 to 1979. According to the literature, MDMA was introduced as a street drug at the end of the 1960s. The first forensic detection of MDMA “on the street” was reported in 1970 in Chicago. It appears that MDMA was first synthesized by underground chemists in search of “legal alternatives” for the closely related and highly sought-after drug MDA, which was scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970. Until 1974, nearly all MDMA street samples seized came from the U.S. Midwest, the first “hot region” of MDMA use. In Canada, MDMA was first detected in 1974 and scheduled in 1976. From 1975 to 1979, MDMA was found in street samples in more than 10 U.S. states, the West Coast becoming the major “hot region” of MDMA use. Recreational use of MDMA spread across the U.S. in the early 1980s, and in 1985 it was scheduled under the CSA.
Electronic Dance Music Events as Modern-Day Ritual
Electronic dance music (EDM) events may function as a ritual space for psycho-spiritual exploration and personal development, often linked to the occurrence of non-ordinary states of consciousness in participants. This paper reviews the literature addressing the spiritual, religious, and transpersonal facets of participants’ experiences at EDM events, with an emphasis on the subsequent integration of these experiences into daily life. Several empirical studies conducted in the past two decades, of which the most recent was conducted by the first author of the present paper (Redfield, 2017, this issue), provides grounds to argue that EDM events can be vectors for enhancing personal and psychosocial wellbeing for their participants—a discussion that was omitted in previous studies that strictly emphasized either the dangers or the purely hedonistic nature of EDM participation. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research into the specific ways in which EDM events may benefit individual participants.
Why MDMA therapy for alcohol use disorder? And why now?
Alcohol use disorder represents a serious clinical, social and personal burden on its sufferers and a significant financial strain on society. Current treatments, both psychological and pharmacological are poor, with high rates of relapse after medical detoxification and dedicated treatment programs. The earliest historical roots of psychedelic drug-assisted psychotherapy in the 1950s were associated with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy to treat what was then called, alcoholism. But results were varied and psychedelic therapy with LSD and other ‘classical’ psychedelics fell out of favour in the wake of socio-political pressures and cultural changes. A current revisiting of psychedelic clinical research is now targeting substance use disorders – and particularly alcohol use disorder – again. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy has never been formally explored as a treatment for any form of substance use disorder. But in recent years MDMA has risen in prominence as an agent to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With its unique receptor profile and a relatively well-tolerated subjective experience of drug effects when used clinically, MDMA Therapy is ideally suited to allow a patient to explore and address painful memories without being overwhelmed by negative affect. Given that alcohol use disorder is so often associated with early traumatic experiences, the author is proposing in a current on-going UK-based study that patients with alcohol use disorder who have undergone a medical detoxification from alcohol might benefit from a course of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Psychedelics: New Doors, Altered Perceptions’.