This interview study assessed the experiences of adult couples (n=8) who self-reported active MDMA use. Four overarching themes were identified: Conscious Use, A Tool for Exploring, Planned Recovery, and Difficult Experiences. Couples collaborated on becoming “set” for their experience and described positive effects on communication, intimate bonding, and providing a relationship “tune-up,” among other durable changes to the relationship. These findings suggest the possibility of informed, non-problematic adult use of MDMA for cognitive and relational enhancement.
“Within the modern resurgence of psychedelics as medicinal agents for a range of conditions, the story of MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly) has been re-narrated from a dangerous street drug to a breakthrough mental health therapy. Even still, the story of MDMA remains incomplete within a binary discourse of deviant recreational use versus psychotherapeutic-medical use. The present research aimed to uncover an emerging model of MDMA use grounded in the experiences of adult couples using MDMA privately and in the context of their committed relationships. Eight adult couples who self-reported active MDMA use were recruited for confidential in-depth interviews exploring questions related to drug, set, and setting as a general framework for understanding their private experiences with MDMA. A general inductive coding process was used to arrive at four overarching themes: Conscious Use, A Tool for Exploring, Planned Recovery, and Difficult Experiences. Couples reported making purposeful decisions about MDMA use, collaborating together on becoming physically and emotionally “set” for their drug experience. Couples described positive effects on communication, intimate bonding, and providing a relationship “tune-up,” among other durable changes to the relationship. An emerging cognitive-relational model of “evenings with Molly” contrasts with existing models of use by suggesting the possibility of informed, non-problematic adult use of the drug for cognitive and relational enhancement. With a small, homogenous sample reporting generally positive experiences with MDMA self-administration, findings from this study cannot be generalized. It remains unknown what proportion of the total MDMA user population might align with the non-problematic adult use of MDMA explored in this study. Additional focused investigations might examine the prevalence and varieties of non-clinical use among adults in order to arrive at rational, science-based regulatory frameworks.”
Authors: Robert Colbert & Shannon Hughes
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Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
January 15, 2022