One substance is making a name for itself in underground healing communities as a top contender for helping couples face their traumas and connect on a deeper level.
If you haven't already checked out the episode, head on over to The Lunita Podcast and give Episode 10: MDMA for Healing Your Relationship a listen. Remember to subscribe to the Podcast, leave us a review if you like the show, and give us a follow on Instagram for updates and conversations with the community.
On this episode, Nina and Justin take a deep dive into MDMA and its potential for therapeutic healing, especially in regard to couples counseling. They discuss risks, effects, trauma and how MDMA works with said trauma, as well as basic guidelines and how best to integrate these experiences into the relationship and life.
*DISCLAIMER: MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is categorized as Schedule 1 substances by the federal government meaning that the possession, distribution, and use of this substance can carry felony charges, large financial penalties, and possibility of incarceration. We do not condone or encourage the use of illegal substances; we are simply providing an educational foundation for those interested in the topic.
Important Information to Consider Before We Begin
1. There ARE Risks
We cover these in detail at the bottom of this post (as well as provide you with a discount code for substance-testing kits).
2. Avoid Mixing Substances
Although it can be safe to mix substances, we do not recommend it if you have not done your research on it. We also suggest you stick to one substance when working in a therapeutic capacity.
3. Experiences May Differ
Although there are plenty of commonalities in the experiences of those that have used MDMA, the substance can affect people in a variety of different ways. Be mindful of these differences, and understand that not every experience is going to be the same for every person. Listen to your body, and stay safe!
4. Dosage and Duration
Doses affect everyone differently depending on size, tolerance, etc, but it is recommended that you do not take anything above 120mg (according to rollsafe.org) as the risks increase drastically.
Effects can typically be felt anywhere from 3-8 hours and tend to begin around the 30 to 45-minute mark after ingestion.
What is MDMA, and How Does It Affect Us ?
MDMA stands for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Yeah, we can't say it three times fast either. It is also commonly known by the street names "Molly" or "Ecstasy" (although it should be noted that ecstasy is an altered version of MDMA cut with some type of upper; typically caffeine or amphetamines). To be clear, for the purpose of this article, we are referring to MDMA.
MDMA is known for increasing levels of serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, among other alterations to the chemicals in your brain. This means that it produces effects of euphoria and joy; loss of appetite, increased empathy, and often the inability to sleep are common side effects of this substance as well.
Feeling happy, confident, empathetic, and full of love can be helpful in revisiting traumatic experiences that have held us back or that we have avoided. MDMA also reduces our reaction to fear which can make facing a problem as a couple feel less scary.
Confronting trauma, so that it may be released, is an important step towards healing ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In short, holding on to trauma prevents us from living our best lives, and MDMA can open us up to healing that trauma.
What is Trauma Though?
Understanding trauma is incredibly important because, well, we ALL have trauma. That's right, almost every single person on this planet has or will experience trauma at some point in their lives. So, what is it, and why does it matter?
Trauma, simply put, is our mind / body's way of reacting to an abnormal event. The event can be a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that we experience first-hand (something bad happened to us at some point in our lives), or second-hand (we witnessed something bad happen to someone else, and were helpless to stop it). To be fair, there are a lot of different ways to identify trauma, but the important thing to understand is that it happens to everyone.
It is essential to understand that trauma is subjective. What one person perceives as a traumatic event may not been seen that way in the eyes of someone else. Trauma affects everyone differently and to varying degrees. With that said, we are all capable of overcoming it with the proper support,
While some people are able to bounce back easier than others from their trauma, this is not about strength or resilience, but more about other circumstances. However, when trauma goes unacknowledged and ignored, we essentially are living our lives with it. For some people, their trauma can be so severe that they relive the same traumatic event over and over in their mind. This is when trauma crosses over into something more severe, PTSD.
We often think of PTSD as something people who have been in war experience, but when you look at the definition of trauma, you don't have to have been in combat to experience PTSD. It can be caused by other deeply disturbing situations such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, physical injury (i.e. a serious car accident), sudden loss of of a loved one, living through a natural disaster, and the list goes on.
The point is, we all carry trauma with us in our bodies and in our minds. Regardless of how extreme the trauma was, it plays more of an impact than we may realize on all aspects of our lives. This includes romantic relationships. Not only can trauma be an explanation to why we choose our romantic partners, but it can also explain why we behave the the way we do in our relationships.
Now, if we understand that most people have experienced some level of trauma that has not been confronted or dealt with, we can understand the likelihood that both us and our partners may be, from time to time, coming from a place of trauma. It can be an explanation to why we argue, avoid, and behave the way we do, which over time can erode a relationship.
To understand trauma is to understand ourselves, and to understand another human being's trauma is to fully see them.
MDMA in Therapy Sessions
In recent years, many researchers and therapists have begun using MDMA to not only treat anxiety, PTSD, and other forms of trauma, but they have used MDMA for couples counseling as well. MDMA can help people accept and integrate emotional challenges in short amounts of time, making it effective for helping people work through difficulties they have both as individuals and as a couple.
It is not advised to take MDMA without the support of a trained professional who can help you and your partner work through difficulties with respect and support, and while MDMA is not yet legal in the United States, there are plenty of government-approved clinical trials and therapists working with MDMA.
The goals in MDMA couples therapy are for the couple to:
acknowledge their own traumas they have experienced -- both individually and as a couple
confront those traumas
forgive, release, and move forward from these traumas
and integrate these lessons into their everyday lives
An MDMA session also gives couples an opportunity to feel especially connected with their partners, bringing more gratitude, love, appreciation, empathy, etc. to the relationship.
We want to add that we do not encourage anyone to engage in MDMA couples work without having the proper training on trauma. When engaging in MDMA couples therapy without a skilled professional, you run the risk of unintentional re-traumatization -- this is something we want to avoid -- but in true harm reduction fashion, we believe it is important to cover some of the basics of MDMA couples counseling.
So, without further ado, let's talk preparation, basic guidelines, and integration so that those that do use have the best possible experience.
How does one best prepare for an MDMA session with their partner? Basically, how do we set ourselves up for a great experience while using MDMA for healing?
1. Be Mindful of Your Set and Setting
Just like with psychedelics such as LSD or Mushrooms, our mindset -- the mental state, the thoughts, the intentions, the mood, and the expectations -- can have a drastic influence on the experience itself. The set also includes your physical health and well-being, your social circumstances, and any looming responsibilities.
The setting is the physical and social surroundings of the space you will be taking your journey in. The setting you take any substance in can also drastically influence your experience. Make sure you are safe and around people you trust! This is KEY.
2. Set Aside the Proper Amount of Time
We recommend you set aside at least the DAY OF and the DAY AFTER -- the day of for prep and use, and the day after to nurse the hangover that can accompany the use of MDMA. There's nothing worse than having obligations when all you really want to do is reflect and rest.
3. Take the time to write out some areas of your relationship that you would like to discuss.
This doesn't have to be in any detail, just think of a few situations or topics that you would like to discuss with your partner. You want to make the most out of this opportunity to connect with one another, and it helps to have some specifics.
4. It's important to have some boundaries in place prior to beginning your session.
A few suggestions:
Specific (triggering?) topics that you may not feel like discussing
Now, with that said, your boundaries COULD change during the session, and that's fine, but if there is something that you are not comfortable with, there is absolutely no shame in letting it be known.
5. Be open-minded, as the session could shift gears and go to places that aren't expected.
Even with notes on what you would like to talk about and boundaries on what you would like to avoid, you may find that the session takes you someplace entirely different. That is OK (and possibly even to be expected) -- there is a saying in the psychedelic community: "These substances tend to show you what you NEED, not what you WANT."
6. Discuss fears and expectations of the session prior to dose day.
It is totally normal to have reservations in regard to using substances, so be sure to talk it out with your partner; you could even see this as an opportunity to begin the healing prior to dosing, and you may even find that both of you have similar fears.
As for expectations, it's important to have a goal or outcome in mind, but remember to be realistic, and remember to stay open-minded. This is a journey both of you are taking together, and that is healing in itself.
7. Create a Playlist
Not a requirement, but music has been shown to have benefits in almost every aspect of our lives, and during an MDMA trip, it can really set the mood of a space. Be mindful of the type of music you will be listening to -- we recommend light, peaceful, calming music that sets the space up for connectivity and love.
8. DO YOUR RESEARCH
As always, the best preparation is thorough research on the substance you plan to ingest/use, and it is no different for MDMA. There are plenty of resources available at the bottom of this post and on the Internet at large.
Proper research can mean the difference between a positive, life-altering experience or one filled with anxiety and risk. With that said, give yourself a pat on the back -- your research has already begun since you're here reading this article.
Some Basic Guidelines
While it may be a little bit more difficult to stick to a "script", it's important to try to follow some basic guidelines:
1. Keep an Open Mind
As stated earlier, it's important to be open to where the experience will take you. Try not to close yourself off to thoughts and memories that may arise during the session, and try to confront fears instead of running from them.
2. Avoid Interrupting One Another
As we talked about in How to Argue with Someone You Love, it is important to allow one person to get everything out before you decide to interject.
Giving another person space to claim their feelings and state their thoughts is the respectful thing to do. When we can speak freely, without the fear of being judged, we can be authentic and honest. Let the other person get everything off their chest, listen, then switch.
3. Do NOT Judge One Another
People on MDMA report feeling incredibly emotionally in-tuned. In short, they can be a bit more sensitive.
Regardless of whether someone is on any substance or not, be sure to remove any judgement or preconceived notions when engaging in any form of counseling. It is not up to you to defend, argue, justify, or react to someone else's lived experiences. It is also the respectful to keep whatever traumas, secrets, or fears that are shared with you between yourselves.
An additional note to remember is to be mindful of your non-verbal communication as well. An eye roll or looking disinterested can make someone feel unheard, or worse, disrespected, and we don't want that.
4. Be Considerate of One Another's FEELINGS
Even if that wasn't your intention, it's not about what you meant, it's about how it made someone else feel. Listen to your partner, and remember that it's not your place to tell someone how they should or should not feel about a situation, action, or statement.
5. Lastly, Enjoy the Experience!
MDMA is called ecstasy for a reason, because it makes you feel great! Enjoy the experience with your partner. It's not everyday you get to sit around, love one another unconditionally, and enjoy each other's company for hours on end.
1. Discuss and reflect on the session when you are both sober
You're most likely going to WANT to discuss your experiences with one another, but we just want to hammer the importance in.
Talking with your partner afterward can bring an even higher level of intimacy to your relationship and remind you of what was discussed. It also allows you to set discuss what steps you can each take toward building the relationship you WANT to have.
2. Journaling / Writing
Similar to our suggestion in Tripping 101, writing your experience out not only helps you remember the key takeways, it also helps you gain even more insight into your next steps.
**A few questions you could ask yourself to get the ball rolling are:
What did I learn? What are some lessons I've received from this experience?
Did I learn anything about myself or my partner that I did not previously know?
Have I changed as a result of this experience? How?
How can I transition this experience into my everyday life? (How does this experience manifest in my everyday life?)
Is there anything from this session that I would like to explore in more detail and depth?
Again, you can meditate on the questions above as well. Quieting the thoughts can sometimes be more helpful to some than writing, and meditation offers the opportunity for a more visual representation of your experience to manifest itself.
4. This is a Continual Process
Remember that all healing is work, and Rome wasn't built in a day. Be prepared to gain new insights over time, have more conversations with your partner on the experience, and to revisit the goals and expectations you had set from this experience.
These can be life-altering sessions, both in the short-term and the long-term, so stick with it, and enjoy the journey! Future you will thank present you for all the work put in today so that they can enjoy the benefits tomorrow.
Are There Any Risks to Take Into Consideration?
1. The Hangover
As a result of your brain producing such large doses of serotonin while on MDMA, there is now less serotonin available for you the morning after. It can be expected that, for many people, the day after using the substance can feel just as extreme... only in the opposite direction.
Feelings of depression, sadness, irritability, paranoia and exhaustion are common, and we suggest you plan accordingly and leave this day free for rest and reflection.
2. Don't Use Often!
Because of these extremes one goes through on MDMA, it is not recommended that this substance be used often. You want to give your body and mind time to not only process what you have experienced, but to reset and return to your baseline. You should be waiting at LEAST five weeks (if not longer) before considering consuming MDMA again. The longer you can wait the better.
Studies have shown there is a potential for harm to the brain, specifically involving the production of serotonin and other chemicals that are released in the brain during MDMA experiences. This is yet another reason why we suggest working with a trained professional when considering MDMA therapy. You do not want to fry you damn brain!
3. Dehydration AND Over-Hydration
During these experiences you want to make sure you are properly hydrated. MDMA retains water into the body, so it is possible to over-hydrate. Basically, stay PROPERLY hydrated!
As we have stated before. We do not condone the use or sale of any illegal substances. There are serious legal risks you take by choosing to engage in MDMA use. For some these risks do not outweigh the benefits. Please use responsibly, do your research and educate yourselves on the legality of MDMA in the region in which you live.
5. Lastly, ALWAYS Test Your Substances.
It's important that you ingest what you are expecting to ingest. We are grateful to ElevationChemicals.com for the opportunity to provide you with a 15% discount at checkout if you use the code LUNITA. You can also donate that 15% discount to MAPS, the Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, by clicking this link.
MDMA is a promising substance that has been shown time and time again, in government-approved clinical trials and studies, to dramatically improve the lives of those who suffer from a multitude of problems.
The beginning of healing is understanding that there even is healing that needs to be done, and for many, MDMA has been a catalyst to open wounds in a way where, rather than hurting, they are able to look at them from a more loving, empathetic perspective, and ultimately face their traumas head on. This has taken the power away from the trauma and given it back to the "traumatized".
When it comes to relationships, once we understand not only our own trauma, but the trauma or emotional difficulties of our partners, it becomes much easier to connect with them on a deeper level.
For us, personally, MDMA has significantly strengthened the bond we have with one another and the level of understanding we have for each other's lived experiences. It's also helped us better understand our expectations of each other and our needs in our relationship.
Through our times using MDMA, we've been able to openly share parts of ourselves that we had closed off and possibly even forgotten about. We've been able to express ourselves more clearly, find extreme empathy and appreciation for one another, and connect on a deeper level, creating a stronger foundation than we could have imagined possible without the use of such a substance.
While it's not the world's safest substance, when used in the correct setting, with trained professionals, MDMA can produce astounding results that leave people feeling stronger, healthier, less anxious and more connected to their loved ones. This can have remarkable effects on the quality of our interpersonal relationships, and our relationship with ourselves.
We'll end by saying, please remember that this is not the only way to heal. This is simply, another avenue to be explored on the road to a better self and a better life.
We wish you the best of luck in your search for a happier life. We would love to hear from you, whether it's something you think we missed, something you would like to add, or an anecdote you would like to share from YOUR experiences, send it our way via Instagram, in the comments section, or to our email.
Lastly, down below, you can find a list of resources mentioned in the episode and that we have found helpful and informative. Thank you for reading, remember to subscribe to the show if you haven't already, and sign up for our monthly newsletter to get updates on what is new at Lunita.
The Art of Rolling - Everything you could possibly want to know about what MDMA experiences can be like.
MAPS MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Protocols - MAPS (the Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) is the leading research organization for work with clinical trials of MDMA, and their information is an invaluable contribution to the future of psychedelic use in therapeutic and/or medicinal capacities.
The Future of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy - A TED talk on the future of psychedelics in healing and therapy by the great, Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS and legend in the field of psychedelic studies.
PsychedSubstances - An educational and often-times comical resource on all things psychedelics (and drugs in general), this is a great YouTube channel with plenty of videos to keep you busy for the foreseeable future.
MDMA's Impact on Romantic Relationships - A YouTube video by Katie Anderson -- an OPEN Foundation presentation.
MDMA-Assisted Couples Therapy - An Article on The Conversation covering PTSD and enhancing intimacy between partners