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MDMA and the “Ecstasy Paradigm”

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Abstract

For nearly 30 years, there has been a steady flow of research papers highlighting the dangers of MDMA and the implications for ecstasy users. After such a long time, it would be reasonable to expect that these dangers would be obvious due to the large number of ecstasy users. The available evidence does not indicate that there are millions of ecstasy users experiencing any problems linked to their ecstasy use. The “precautionary principle” suggests that, in the absence of knowing for certain, “experts” should argue that MDMA be avoided. However, this may have been taken too far, as the dire warnings do not seem to be reducing with the lack of epidemiological evidence of clinically relevant problems. The “ecstasy paradigm” is one way of articulating this situation, in that the needs of research funders and publication bias lead to a specific set of subcultural norms around what information is acceptable in the public domain. By digging a little deeper, it is easy to find problems with the evidence base that informs the public debate around MDMA. The key question is whether it is acceptable to maintain this status quo given the therapeutic potential of MDMA.

Cole, J. C. (2014). MDMA and the “Ecstasy Paradigm”. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(1), 44–56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2014.878148
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