Empathogens in medical research

Also known as entactogens, these substances have powerful psychoactive properties beneficial for treatment. Subjects prescribed these research chemicals experience feelings of oneness, heightened self-esteem, and a number of other emotional effects. 

Definition

This group of substances causes subjects to experience emotional unity, oneness, as well as openness and being connected. These effects are similar to those of synthetic cannabinoids. There is a range of production techniques, involving different chemical precursors. Hence, they are artificially made, unlike steroids and hormones.

Translated as “generating a state of empathy”, the word emerged in the 1980s, coined by David E. Nichols and Ralph Metzner. Nichols replaced the term afterward with “entactogen” (meaning “touch within”) as a broader term than merely empathy-inducing substances. His motives were connected to possible misassociations of empathogens with pathogenesis and the Greek root páthos meaning “suffering”. The word “entactogen” was formed using three roots: en (Greek: within), tactus (Latin: touch) and -gen (Greek: produce). 

Classification

It is important to distinguish the said chemicals from stimulant drugs, hallucinogenic or psychedelic substances, and amphetamines. Frequent incorrect references to entactogens as stimulants or hallucinogens are connected with the fact that such entactogens as ecstasy do demonstrate certain psychedelic or stimulant properties, in addition to others. 

Some of the most widely used examples of the drugs are MDA, MDMA, methylone, mephedrone, αMT and αET, and others. Most of these are either amphetamines or phenethylamines. A few, including αMT and αET, belong to the tryptamine group. The abbreviation MDxx is normally applied to refer to MDMA and the existing counterparts (MDPV is an exception).

Effects 

Such drugs help to treat emotional disconnection in people. Correct doses of empathogens cause the subject to feel more energetic, open and connected to society. Diethylone crystal and Bkepqe Crystal, for example, could be prescribed for boosting of focus and motivation. Thirtylone Crystal, which is an analog of Methylone, can be useful in treating swelling and pain experienced in cases of joint disorders.

In the case of mephedrone, the strength of psychoactive activity varies, and it usually lasts 2-5 hours. The effects on the human psyche are intermediate between those of ecstasy and cocaine. They include higher self-esteem, a pleasurable rush, euphoria, elevated mood, tachypsychia, alertness, a sense of well-being, enhanced music appreciation, disinhibition, motor excitation, reduced perception of tiredness, and moderate sexual stimulation. 

In excessive doses, the effects of empathogens become detrimental, just like it happens with Benzodiazepines. It is vital to exercise caution when administering these chemicals.

Medical use

The drugs have been used in psychiatry since the 1970s, and the research community has recently resumed exploration of therapeutic uses. Typical subjects have PTSD and other kinds of trauma. Persistent traumatizing memories are detrimental to such patients’ social life. By administering MDMA or other empathogens, it is possible to disconnect the subject from his or her fears. 

What makes therapeutic effects possible is that MDMA targets the bodily stress response. It alleviates conditioned fear responses and anxiety while reducing any tendency to avoid feelings. Subsequently, patients begin trusting the psychiatrist and themselves.

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