Alternative Therapy

Woman Searches For Emotional Healing Through Ecstasy

Of all the people you might imagine using the drug ecstasy, Sue Stevens is one of the least likely. She is a single mother in the Midwest, trying to mak eends meet for her three children.

But, as Correspondent Bill Lagattuta reports, Sue does use ecstasy. In fact, she swears by it. "I could word it as the miracle drug."

Sue defends her use of the illegal substance: "Give me a cigarette and a bottle of whiskey. Those are legal. They're more dangerous. This has benefits. There's so many things out there that do not have any benefits."

She first used the drug five years ago with her fiancé, Shane Stevens, who was the love of her life. "First time I saw him, I thought, 'He's the one,'" said Sue.

Though he wasn't the father of any of her three children, he was very much part of the family. Sue said Shane "loved taking the kids out, playing ball with them."

Sue Stevens and her soul mate didn't use ecstasy just to have a good time. Early in the relationship, Shane was diagnosed with kidney cancer. "From the time he was diagnosed," recalled Sue, "he would do anything and everything he could in his power to push away and make me hate him."

The cancer was eating away at their relationship. According to Sue, Shane would not talk about his medical condition: "I didn't realize until a couple of years ago, he did (it) so he wouldn't see me cry."

They were fighting, and they both knew the clock was ticking down. "He blew up at me one night because I'm all curled up on the couch reading a book," said Sue. "And it finally came out. He was upset because I was taking time away that could be spent with us."

After two and a half years of what Sue describes as "hell," the couple didn't know where to turn. And then a friend told her about ecstasy. "He said, 'Let me send you some books. Let me send you some pamphlets. Why don't you go to these Web sites, start checking this out?'" remembered Sue.

What the books and pamphlets talked about was ecstasy's history. Before it was banned in 1985, ecstasy was used in the '60s and '70s by psychotherapists in northern Califonia and in other parts of the country. They found that using the drug created feelings of empathy and openness that helped people discuss their problems and deal with them.

Sasha Shulgin, a chemistry professor, has been called the godfather of ecstasy. He and his wife, Anne, were early advocates of the drug for therapeutic use.

Said Anne Shulgin, "What it seems to do is allow the person to look inside of themselves - at all aspects of themselves - without fear or that you can look at your own faults and things that need to be changed, but not hate yourself for it."

Sue Stevens found it hard to describe the effects the drug has on interpersonal relationships but said it allows one " to be able to feel everything that you have inside of you."

"You don't feel the emotional pain, you don't feel the mental pain, and you're not afraid of being judged. You're just not afraid of being hurt."

Sue and Shane took ecstasy five times over three years. While under the influence of the drug, said Sue, "We just started talking about everything, from the day he was diagnosed, from the day that we met, up to that point."

They talked about things, said Sue, that couldn't have come up without ecstasy: "One night, we solved two and a half year's worth of problems, and we were able another three years; we never fought after that night."

Less than a month after their final session, Shane died.

One year after his death, Sue was still struggling with Shane's memory: "A couple of weeks ago...I just started crying so hard, I had to pull off the side of the road. Couldn't catch my breath and pretty much wanted to die all over again."

Once again, Sue turned to ecstasy to deal with her pain. She headed out to California to see an underground therapist for treatment with the illegal drug. Said Sue before leaving to see the therapist, "Back in December, I wanted to die, and I can't keep living like that. I want to be able to breathe again, it's very important to me."

Read Part Two: The Session and find out if ecstasy will help Sue Stevens handle the loss of her fiancé.

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