Drugs live: Was it a useful scientific study?


Last week, Channel 4 aired Drugs Live: The Ecstasy trial. The supposed aim of the programme was to research whether ‘E’ might have a clinical role in helping sufferers of depression and post traumatic stress. This had been the first time Ecstasy had been filmed on TV since the 1980’s…

Network bosses described the show as ‘a programme only Channel 4 would be brave enough to submit’. But, there has been much talk as to whether the programme really was as ‘groundbreaking’ as it claimed itself to be.

File:Ecstasy Pills.jpg

Ecstasy pills

The Guardians, Rupert Sawyer saw the programme as anything but controversial.

“What Drugs Live has illustrated to us all, is that television has lost its edge since Y2K. Frankly, if it’s still controversial to have a conversation about ecstasy on the television, we, the industry are failing to move with the times. If the broadcasters do not do something soon, the internet will kill us all,” he said.

Personally, I found it to be lacking in new scientific findings. Yes, there were plenty of doctors, and a big model of the inside of a brain, but everything seemed very basic. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that E releases seratonin in the brain, giving that ‘feel good’ emotion.

Questions are also raised over the show’s seemingly positive representation of the drug. Critics have asked why the only expert to point out  the dangers of taking drugs was given just three minutes of the 65 minute programme to voice his concerns.

Interestingly, only one man, a former SAS soldier, was shown to  have had a negative response, while the  majority of the volunteers  described feelings of well-being and euphoria. It also appeared that the choice of participants seemed to be more aimed at pleasing the viewer rather than for scientific gain. (The female priest, for example.)Another participant was Keith Allen, a celebrity who has been known to take drugs in the past.

File:MRI brain.jpg

Brain activity was measured in an MRI scan

I think that it is neccessary to point out that nobody taking part in the experiment actually had depression or post traumatic stress, which seemed odd considering this appeared at first to be the premise of the show.

In defence of Drugs Live, Proffessor Nut told the BBC that it is a ‘very high quality in-depth scientific study.”

What did you make of the show?

Click here to read the Telegraph’s review of the show.

Click here to read a Daily Mail article about the ‘acceptability’ of ecstasy.

Click here to read a Metro article and the criticism of Drugs Live.


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