Awakn’s Ben Sessa Tells All About MDMA and Netflix Docuseries
There’s been a great deal of chatter about Netflix’s How to Change Your Mind docuseries, which is lead by author Michael Pollan. In fact, it seems to be actually changing many people’s perceptions towards psychedelics and medicine. We’ve spoken with Dr. Ben Sessa, the co-founder of Awakn Life Sciences in the past about his company and their clinical trials. Today, we’ve invited Dr. Sessa to The Dales Report to talk in depth about MDMA molecules.
If you’re curious about the different psychedelic molecules, and how MDMA is different, you won’t want to miss out on listening to the full interview. And of course, be sure to follow The Dales Report to get our podcasts as they come.
For now, here’s some highlights from our talk with Dr. Sessa.
Psychedelics isn’t a fringe subject any longer
Chapter 3 of How to Change Your Mind is dedicated to MDMA, and Sessa was invited to participate in this episode. The four episode docuseries covers the current climate and history of the major psychedelics, and on the series itself, Dr. Sessa feels that Netflix did a “really good job.”
For Dr. Sessa, who’s been working with psychedelics like MDMA, DMT, ketamine and LSD for 20 years, 15 of which have been in work at the Imperial College London, the Netflix feature is fantastic. His work is finally being realized in the outside world for what it is: cutting edge neuroscience and clinical psychiatry. “For too long psychedelics have languished in the background,” Sessa says. “A sort of weird fringe subject, but they’re not anymore.”
Sessa believes psychedelic treatments like MDMA will become mainstream
Dr. Sessa cautions people against falling into the conspiracy belief that pharma wants to keep people sick. “There are more than enough customers out there to keep us busy for the rest of our lives,” he says. “The idea we want to maintain and sustain mental illness in order to keep our jobs does not make sense at all.”
It makes perfect sense – economic sense even – to Dr. Sessa to use treatments like MDMA when they’re available to treat people and get them better. In the long run, it’d be cheaper to make them functional people again. Even though there might be an up-front, steep cost to a psychedelic.
“You know, there is nothing more expensive than an untreated psychiatric patient,” he says. “They don’t work, they end up going to prison, social services, remove their children, they have new livers, they contract physical illnesses. They’re very, very expensive, untreated psychiatric patients.”
MDMA is closer to the finish line than other psychedelics, says Sessa
Developing a molecule into a med is a complex, expensive, time consuming business. Sessa says that in this way, psychedelic drugs are no different than ibuprofen. The drug agencies make every pharmaceutical company ‘jump through a bunch of hoops’ to demonstrate safety, efficiency, and efficacy.
Sessa says MDMA has been jumping through all these hoops. The other psychedelics are in the process of doing so as well. It’s just “simply a bit further along the line,” he says. Though all the psychedelics have a fascinating and interesting cultural history, none of that is particularly helpful in getting them approved. “The way to do it is through science,” Sessa says. “Careful, conservative, sober science, which is pretty boring at times, it’s got to be said.” But Dr. Sessa and his colleagues, they are doing what they need to do to work with authorities to make psychedelics in medicine a reality.
Don’t miss the full interview with Dr. Sessa, who goes into more depth regarding MDMA and its history as the raver drug of choice, ecstasy. This and more on The Dales Report!