MAPS responds to the June 5, 2000 TIME magazine article about MDMA
Did you read the June 5, 2000 TIME Magazine cover story about Ecstasy?

MAPS has prepared this fact sheet to clarify some inaccuracies in the TIME story and expand on important points only mentioned in it. Included are links to other sections of the MAPS website and other websites with more detailed information. MAPS has been supporting research into the therapeutic use of MDMA since 1986. See also a a narrative account of this struggle.

Corrections to statements made in the TIME article
Additions to things only touched on in the TIME article

 
Seven corrections to statements made in the TIME article:

1. TIME wrote that "In November [1999], Ricaurte recorded for the first time the effects of ecstasy on the human brain." Is this true?

    No. Ricaurte was a contributing researcher in the first study, which was conducted in the 1980s and published in 1992.* MAPS funded the neuropsychological testing portion of this study. It was controversial because in a 1988 pre-publication letter to MAPS, John Opsahl, the neuropsychologist who conducted the memory portion of the study, wrote that "...very few neuropsychological findings exist in this population. It should be noted that the memory findings for the Paragraph [Paragraph Recall of the Wechsler Memory Scale] are not uncommon in patients especially when anxiety, fatigue, or difficulties in attention or concentration exist in the individual..." Yet, when the study was published in 1992, the authors emphasized MDMA as the likely cause.
    *Krystal JH, Price LH, Opsahl C, Ricaurte GA, Heninger GR. (1992) Chronic 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) use: effects on mood and neuropsychological function? Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1992;18(3):331-41.

2. Did Ricaurte's memory study find that, "The ecstasy users faired worst on the [memory] test"?

    Not exactly. People who took 440 mg of MDMA per month for two years on average had memory scores that were no different from the controls. People who took over that amount scored slightly lower than the controls on some tests. They were still within the normal range. However, the people who took over 440 mg of MDMA per month also consumed other drugs, so these findings may have nothing to do with MDMA. [for references and details see the memory study page on Erowid]

    The most well-controlled study of MDMA and memory, though still not conclusive, was recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.* The study can be read on Erowid. A discussion of it is being prepared.
    *Gouzoulis-Mayfrank E, Daumann J, Tuchtenhagen F, Pelz S, Becker S, Kunert HJ, Fimm B, Sass H. (June 2000) Impaired cognitive performance in drug free users of recreational ecstasy (MDMA). J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry Vol 68(6), 719-725.

3. Did Dr. Charles Grob conduct a study of MDMA as a pain reliever for patients in 1995?

    No. See the MDMA research page for an account of the effort to begin this study, which has not yet received final approval by the FDA. An MDMA phase I safety study conducted by Dr. Charles Grob was approved by the FDA in 1992 and completed in 1995. The MDMA psychotherapy study with PTSD in Spain (reported in TIME) has been approved and will be the first formal therapy study with MDMA ever conducted. Read more about the Spain study.

4. Has the FDA approved only one study with MDMA, as asserted in the TIME article?

    No. The FDA has approved three studies with MDMA. See our list of research around the world for details about these studies.

5. Did MAPS fund "Ricaurte's first work on [MDMA]"?

    No. MAPS contributed to Ricaurte's first studies in primates and humans, but not the very first ones, which were in rodents.

6. Is MAPS supported by Rick Doblin, as implied in the TIME article?

    No. MAPS is supported by 1800 private individuals and foundations, including the ones listed on our thank you page.
7. It isn't accurate to say that, "It would take a big dose of e, something like 14 of today's purest pills ingested at once, to kill you."
    While taking 14 pills at once might cause a heart attack in someone with a compromised heart, this statement gives a false sense of confidence about the risks of lower doses. Deaths from ecstasy are rare: e.g., approximately one death/year in the New York City area during each of the last three years. Because the deaths are so rare, we do not yet understand why some individuals appear to have higher sensitivity to the toxic effects of ecstasy. In some individuals the cause of death is hyperthermia (overheating), though only when people are already elevating their temperature through vigorous and prolonged exercise without adequate fluid replacement. A very few other MDMA-related deaths have been caused by hyponatremia (drinking too much water). However, in other individuals who had no hyperthermia at the time of death we suspect, but are not certain, that ecstasy triggered a cardiac arrhythmia. There is no evidence yet that the heart was or was not previously compromised.

    In principle, the likelihood of a heat stroke can be minimized by cooling down and drinking fluids. However, in may be that in those individuals who died of hyperthermia the hyperthermia was a rather malignant process (like NMS) and fluids/etc. might not have helped. We just don't know. Since relatively few ecstasy users die from the drug, we have little information to go on. Nevertheless, a wise precaution to take for someone using MDMA at a rave would be to drink 2-4 cups of water ever hour when dancing in hot environments, and taking time to cool down every now and then.

 
Four additions to things only touched on in the TIME article:
1. What do we know about MDMA's effects on memory?
    To read reviews of memory tests given to Ecstasy users and controls, see a recent article on this site and the memory study page on Erowid.

2. Why would someone who has cancer take MDMA?

    Read the three-part account of Sue and Shane Stevens (Sue was pictured in TIME). Read a series of letters from a daughter who took MDMA with her father prior to his death from cancer. Read an account from a woman therapist in the Midwest who gave her husband MDMA to relieve his pain when he was terminally ill with cancer. Read about US effort to conduct research with MDMA in the treatment of pain in distress in cancer patients.

3. What other therapeutic uses does MDMA have?

    Some of the most often mentioned therapeutic uses are treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from sexual abuse and war, and relief from clinical depression. To read more about the therapeutic use of MDMA, see the 1986 article Subjective Reports of the Effects of MDMA in a Clinical Setting. To see video clips of researchers commenting on the use of MDMA in therapy, see this page.

4. What are the "serious short-term and long-term dangers" of MDMA?

    We regularly update the MDMA research page section on risks of MDMA use. MAPS is currently having all the published scientific research with MDMA reviewed for submission to regulatory agencies and for posting on this website.