What do the drugs ecstasy and testosterone have in common?

What Do the Drugs Ecstasy and Testosterone have in Common?

The drug MDMA, better known as ecstasy, was a legal prescription drug in the 70s and 80s. Physicians “prescribed it to patients suffering from terminal illness, trauma, marital difficulties, drug addiction, phobias and other disorders” (Doblin&Rosenbaum). However, MDMA took on a whole new meaning in the 80s when it became available in nightclubs as well as in other forms of distribution (Doblin&Rosenbaum).

I was living in Dallas, Texas during the time the “legal drug” ecstasy was a big hit at the infamous Stark Club. It was sold at the bar for $25 and could be charged on a MasterCard.  Because of the increasing problems with the drug, on May 31, 1985 the Federal government took emergency action to ban the drug, saying that “abuse of the drug had become a nationwide problem.” (“U.S. Will Ban Ecstasy, A Hallucinogenic Drug”)

Today, those boomers and gen x’ers who survived the 80s want to look good and feel good, just like they did back then. We have now entered the the so-called “Anti-Aging” movement and Anti-Aging doctors are popping up everywhere. The new drug of choice is testosterone and doctors are prescribing it for symptoms such as foggy thinking, low libido, menopause, and more. 

Unfortunately, these two drugs have much in common. Both appeal to feel-good emotions.  Based on my personal experience with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), it is my opinion the doctors must be held accountable for what happens to their patients while using TRT. It must be done with careful monitoring, specific guidelines, and a cautious approach to administering it at all.

Both MDMA (ecstasy) and testosterone drugs are prescribed to couples to enhance their libido, but the danger is in the mind-altering effects on the patients. As a woman who has taken both ecstasy (1985, twice) and testosterone therapy (2009-2012), I consider myself somewhat of a biological expert on how my body responded to each of those drugs. I believe it is important to start educating the public on testosterone therapy. I strongly believe that doctors should be held accountable for testosterone levels going beyond the value ranges given for their specific age group.

For example, a value range for a woman my age, 47, is between 15-65.  In my case, while on testosterone medication, I fluctuated between 200 and 437 and my life took on a whole new meaning. I was overdosing on testosterone (Tomlinson) but I did not realize it at the time. I was on a drug high and then three months later I would crash and feel depressed, almost like coming down from an ecstasy high or cocaine high.             

 Women in particular, especially those who begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, should be aware of this new practice of administering testosterone therapy. Women typically turn to their trusted doctor, whom they believe to have their best interest at heart. It is not uncommon for an OB-GYN to suggest bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, if they suspect you are in perimenopause or menopause.

Unfortunately, there is significant confusion about testosterone replacement therapy, as in my case. I believed I had to have it, when I actually did not.  My doctor said my testosterone was considered on the low-end and recommended TRT.  I thought TRT was one of the hormones that needed to be supplemented during “my rite of passage.” Here’s the warning: There has not been enough research done on TRT, especially for women, as there has been with its sister hormone, estrogen.  Estrogen replacement therapy has been studied for years, and in 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative came out with the findings that “the risks of taking combined hormones, estrogen plus a progestin had higher risks of stroke, breast cancer, heart attacks, blood clots in the lungs and legs (“Bioidentical hormones: Help or hype?”).” As a result, “the FDA, required manufacturers to add a black box warning to all approved estrogens and progestogens.”(“Bioidentical hormones: Help or hype?”)  But now the newest “buzz” is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

An article, “Bioidentical hormones:  Help or Hype?”  states, “bioidentical doesn’t have a precise medical definition.” Furthermore, the Endocrine Society defines bioidentical as “compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones produced in our body.” Does this mean it is still safe to put these into our body? There is also a disclaimer in the article that notes, adding testosterone and DHEA to your body means you are experimenting with your body.  Had I read this article in 2009, I might have made a different choice about hormone replacement therapy.  I had faith in the doctors who were treating me because they were the experts, they have all the research and I trusted them, or so I thought.

My life collapsed because I put trust into these doctors and there are thousands of other men and women who just might be experiencing the devastating side effects similar to what I experienced.  

The drug companies, along with medical practitioners, are brilliantly marketing testosterone and hormone replacement therapy.  It has become one of the biggest advertising categories on television and radio. More and more people are asking their doctors to test them for low testosterone because of the marketing message, “you might be suffering from low T.” You might say, the doctors are the “pushers” and the patients are the “users.”  What if someone has a heart attack and it is proven to be caused by the testosterone level in his or her system? Should the doctor be held accountable for the heart attack? 

In my case, one of my side effects was watching my hair fall out.  Should the doctor who added DHEA and thyroid medication to my cocktail mix be held accountable? Should they pay for hair extensions? What about that behavior shift from grounded and centered to one of a crazy woman? Should they be held accountable for my psychological pain and suffering?  Should they be held accountable for the therapy I had to go through to recover from this chemical cocktail tragedy?   From the loss of my relationships and my sanity? These situations and conditions may sound extreme, but the reality is the need for accountability on all sides. 

I have always been one to take responsibility and I am suggesting, urging, putting forth an idea that doctors should be required to post a warning in their offices in plain view for all to see, just as warnings are listed on such legal narcotics, tobacco and alcohol.

The warning might read: You may be taking your mind and body to an altered state when adding testosterone and other hormones to your body.  Your body chemistry is yours and by allowing us to add hormones into your body you have now become our lab experiment.

 Testosterone therapy is not going away, but I believe we can mandate education and warning labels in the same way we did with drugs, smoking, drinking and sexually transmitted diseases. 

If you are considering testosterone replacement therapy ask yourself why?  Why do you want to put this into your body?  Are you working out?  Are you eating a healthy diet? Are you consuming too much alcohol?  Are you emotionally healthy? Are you clear on what you want in your life?  Are you values aligned with what you want?

 Maybe all you need is a “Lifestyle Shift.”

With Love & Miracles,

Lisa Marie Shaughnessy


Works Cited

“Bioidentical hormones: Help or Hype?” Sept 2011. Harvard.edu/newsletters.com. Web. 18 Mar 2014.

 Doblin, R., & Rosenbaum, M. “Why MDMA Should Not Have Been Made Illegal.” 1991.  Psychedelic-library.org. Web. 25 Mar 2014.
Tomlinson, Carole Anne. “Negative Side Effects of Testosterone.”10 Mar2011 livestrong.com  Web. 25 Mar 2014.
 “U.S. Will Ban Ecstasy, A Hallucinogenic Drug.” 1 June 1985. Nytimes.com. Web. 1 Apr 2014.

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