Pubdate: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
Source: New York Sunday Times Magazine (NY)
Contact:  2001 The New York Times Company
Section: Letters
Authors: Ellen Willis, Argot Murelius, Andrew Tatarsky
Note: Headlines supplied by MAP

[NYST's editorial note] The cover article on Ecstasy generated much mail, 
which was notable for its especially strong opinions, both pro and con. 
Many parents, doctors and public officials accused the article of 
glorifying Ecstasy use and said we did not sufficiently describe the drug's 
risks. A nearly equal number of readers praised our attempt to detail what 
attracts users to the drug and our description of its deadening effect over 
time. Overall, its numbers were dwarfed by those for the previous week's 
article defending atheism, which continues to draw hundreds of readers' thanks.


I read Klam's article with interest -- and a sense of deja vu. Describing 
his transcendence of emotional barriers to empathy and connection, he 
writes, "No other drug produces this kind of feeling." He is wrong. I had 
similar experiences taking LSD. Along with them went a conviction that the 
drug somehow allowed me access to a capacity for happiness long suppressed 
and forgotten. As with Klam, this effect waned after my first few trips. 
The question then became how to recover that lost capacity in a 
less-ephemeral way. The drug of the moment may change; the question does not.


Professor of Journalism New York University New York

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Thanks for demystifying this drug and its culture. Living in New York, I 
have participated in the club scene, but I have never tried Ecstasy. I 
still do not feel a need to do a hit of X. Not even after reading Klam's 

His article was refreshingly free of moral sermons. In a society that is 
full of two-edged dos and don'ts, Klam made this taboo issue a little more 


New York

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There are many who, like Klam, have had positive, life-changing experiences 
with Ecstasy and related substances that some call sacred medicines. The 
use of "psychedelic" substances for healing and spiritual enlightenment has 
a 5,000-year history.

As a psychologist specializing for 20 years in helping people with 
substance-use problems, I am also well aware of the potential risks 
associated with Ecstasy: However, the "just say no" approach to risk 
reduction does not supply what is needed. A pragmatic approach starts by 
acknowledging that people will continue to use these drugs, whether we like 
it or not. From there, honest education about risk and compassionate 
treatment based on clinical experience are the best antidotes.


New York
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens