An Enlightening Encounter With Ecstacy

Four days after my first Sun God Festival, I find myself still involuntarily grinding my teeth in recollection of the ecstasy-induced frenzy I spent a substantial portion of that night in.

I suppose my former self, the high school senior who regarded painkillers as an escapist’s use of chemicals, would have been aghast. That former self would probably be equal parts shocked and amused that I had my arm curled around the person to my right, and my left hand stroking the leg of the person to my left.

Most galling, however, would be the babbling stream of honesty that gushed forth from my lips. The aloof high school senior who regarded human interaction as fundamentally flawed, his own desire to express affection unwaveringly frustrated, and who could not stand to touch people had become a different person.

Not only that, but I carry the emotional changes to my day-to-day life that were effected the first time I tried ecstasy. This is not to say I’m touching everyone around me now, but it is a nice change to believe that expressing affection is desirable and possible.

“”This is a good thing?!”” replied my friend at UC Santa Barbara. I admit that it very well could be a horrible thing.

There is a fundamental difference between recreational drug use and substance use for emotional enlightenment, and the latter could very well be much more dangerous. After all, smoking pot a couple times — something I still have not tried — does not often change people’s political opinions, the way they relate with others, or the way they carry themselves in public. The most lasting consequences I’ve seen are a case of the munchies.

But what if a chemical fundamentally changes my perspective on human relationships, my own self-esteem, even elements of my personality?

The vast majority of the American public would regard this as anathema. “”This,”” the barons of the DEA would reply, “”is exactly why we fight against drugs — because they change the very fabric of good, wholesome people.””

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (and the majority of Americans) place ecstasy on its Schedule IV list, a list that bears the designation of substances with “”no redeeming value.”” I have to disagree.

Ecstasy, like any other dangerous tool, can be both very good and very bad — like fire or a knife, you can use it to hurt yourself and others. But the very fact that something is powerful and dangerous does not exclude it from being a very useful tool.

I’m not going to make the “”no objective good”” or “”no objective truth”” argument to justify my drug use here, because it would be hypocritical and side-stepping the issue.

I agree that the alterations of personalities that drugs can effect can be very bad. But it seems unfortunate that I cannot tell many close friends or ordinary people about what drug use has helped me without their immediate disdain and loss of respect. It is rather amusing to me that those who would condemn my drug use for feeling closer to others use alcohol for the very same purpose.

The rhetoric of the drug war may have saved a great many lives from heroin addiction or cocaine overdoses. But at the same time, is it not as harmful that American society must deny a drug more potentially useful than Prozac due to its lasting emotional consequences simply because of that very potential?

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