New age seekers: MDMA use as an
adjunct to spiritual pursuit

Watson L, Beck J
Institute for Scientific Analysis,
San Francisco,
California 94123.
J Psychoactive Drugs 1991 Jul-Sep; 23(3):261-70


The use of MDMA as an adjunct to spiritual pursuit among New Ager seekers is examined. These study respondents indicated that social worlds greatly influenced which qualities of the MDMA experience were most pursued and valued. In contrast to recreationally oriented respondents, who saw minimal long-term benefits accruing from MDMA use, New Agers typically believed that carefully planned experiences possessed significant potential for lasting spiritual and/or therapeutic value. While many New Agers eschew the use of alcohol and other drugs, these respondents were generally impressed with MDMA. Nevertheless, they differed in their motivations for use and their perceptions of its influence in their lives: some employed MDMA as a sacramental adjunct for following specific spiritual paths; others viewed it as aiding their spiritual growth in more general ways. Because the approaches to and motivations for using MDMA differ so markedly for New Agers and recreationally oriented users, the importance of social worlds and context in studying drug-using behavior is underscored.

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