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The Doctors Who Do MDMA and Cocaine Every Weekend

“I'd rather die at 70 having lived freely and intensely than at 90 having always been healthy and in control.”
Romain Vennekens
Brussels, BE

This article originally appeared on VICE Belgium.

Recently, I met a young doctor – not in the harsh light of a GP’s office, but in the dimly lit chaos of a club – and we quickly became friends. Once I started going out with his crew, I was pretty shocked to find out how hard his doctor friends partied. As I suffered on my couch one Monday I started thinking of my new pal, who was probably administering to patients while experiencing a similarly shitty comedown. I suddenly felt very stupid for buying into that stereotype of the angel in a white coat; the virtuously pure doctor. 


Obviously, nobody wants to think that the person in charge of keeping their sweet nana alive was dissolving their ego a few hours before checking up on her. The truth is, doctors do drugs just like everyone else. They also know very well what those drugs can do to their bodies, so they must have a unique insight into how to sesh in a healthier way. Or do they? 

I turned this questions onto some real-life young doctors who enjoy a good time. According to them, taking drugs is pretty common in the medical field, but people don’t talk about it as that would call into question the sacred status of the entire profession. They opened up – using psuedonyms to protect their identity, obviously – about their own drug use and how they stay safe.

Laetitia, 26, second-year resident at a psychiatric hospital

VICE: How often do you party?
At least once a week, sometimes more.

What do you take?
Almost always cocaine, and sometimes a little MDMA.

Why do you think so many doctors do drugs?
I think a lot of doctors want to test their limits. There’s also a lot of pressure with this job – it’s a way to let go and not give a damn. 

I witness so many difficult situations, a lot of misery, so when the weekend comes around, I'm like, ‘Fuck it, I need to forget about all that for a while.’ As a psychiatrist, I know very well how drugs work. You learn what it does in theory and that makes you want to try.


Have you ever felt like you lost control?
Yes, it's happened before. I was 23, I went through a rough couple of months because of some personal circumstances. I started partying two, three times a week. Each time I took MD, ecstasy, 3-MMC and was completely overwhelmed. My body and mind couldn't recover and I felt myself sinking lower and lower.

I didn't overdose, but I was close. I abused MDMA and my serotonin levels were so low I ended up in the hospital. I really felt like I was hitting rock bottom and realised I couldn't go on like this. I went to see a psychologist – a psychiatrist, too – and I talked a lot with my friends. Slowly, I started to get better. I also removed from my life several people who used a lot and had become toxic for me.

Would you say you have an addiction today?
No, but I'm playing with my limits. In recent weeks, I got a big scare again. But as soon as I felt I was at risk, I made an appointment with my psychiatrist. It helped me a lot.

Have you ever filled in your own prescription?
Yes, especially for sleeping pills. When I go out and stay up a bit too late, I need to know that I can sleep, otherwise I get nervous. I’ve also already prescribed myself antidepressants

How do you manage the comedown when you have to go to work?
So far I've never missed a day, although I'm probably not doing the best job on Mondays. I work with patients who have personality disorders. Some are narcissists, they try to manipulate you, put you down – you really have to be strong to hold on. I recently ended up crying in front of one of my managers who simply told me to arrive on time. I felt so emotionally unstable, I couldn't keep my cool. It shocked me.


How do you see your consumption evolving?
It’s getting more and more out of control in recent months A few weeks ago, I staged a little intervention for myself and downloaded an app to track your consumption – it's called I Am Sober. In the future, I’d really like to moderate my consumption. And quit cocaine.

Simon, 28, second-year resident at a GP’s office

VICE: Do you party often?
Simon: Yes, usually weekly. I do a lot of different drugs: ecstasy, MDMA, 2C-B, ketamine, speed. I smoke joints too. I also sometimes take psychedelics – mushrooms and LSD, but never at parties.

How did your studies inform your drug use?
I think about how drugs are absorbed by the body, their concentration in the blood, how they are eliminated and the consequences of all this. It pushes me to manage my consumption.

Have you ever used your job to access drugs?
I have never prescribed drugs to anyone, although I have been asked. It did happen once for myself, though. GPs have an emergency kit with drugs like morphine and benzodiazepine. They were going to expire, so my roommate and I decided to use them rather than throw them away. I really regretted it afterwards. I felt super irresponsible; I wasn't happy with myself. That wouldn't happen today.

Have you ever come close to having a drug problem?
There were times in my life when I didn't feel well and started taking more to compensate. I didn't feel I was out of control, but I did use drugs to escape every week, several times a week. I knew I was in bad shape but also that quitting was not going to fix the problem, because it was related to other factors. I started seeing a therapist and stopped my somewhat abusive consumption.


How do you see your consumption evolving?
I think drugs will continue to play a role in my life for a long time. My consumption has already evolved considerably, from exploration to excess, to today, when I feel I use more consciously. I can imagine myself at 60 smoking a joint or tripping with friends.

Léo, 27, works in a hospital, about to begin his residency

VICE: Are you going out a lot these days?
Every weekend, sometimes multiple times a weekend. It's fairly recent – it's been a few months now.

What kind of drugs do you take?
Mainly MD, sometimes poppers and also coke from time to time, even though I never thought I’d do it.

In some previous internships, I treated patients who used cocaine and developed real problems, even though they had only done it only a few times. I know it can badly affect your body pretty quickly, but that didn't stop me from trying. I'd rather die at 70 having lived freely and intensely than at 90 having always been healthy and in control. I would feel like I missed out on something.

Would you say you do drugs in a measured way?
That's what I wanted in the beginning. For example, I knew it was better to wait six weeks between re-taking MD. But now, I don't respect that anymore, I do things based on how I feel.

What’s your main motivation for doing drugs?
It's a way of being impulsive. That’s something I wanted in life – an ability to let go. In my work, I can't be impulsive and I feel like all my studies have just been a long process of figuring out what I'd do later. I want to live now.


Have you ever gotten too deep with drugs?
No, but I'm really aware that the risk exists.

How do you avoid that?
I often question myself about my consumption and I try to remain critical. Sometimes you fall and that's how you can move forward. I learn a lot from that process.

Martin, 29, third-year resident at a GP’s office

VICE: Do you like to party?
I go out almost every weekend.

Do you do drugs?
I drink almost every time and I also take ecstasy or MD. At first, I used occasionally, every three months, then it went to every three weeks – it depends. I've also tried mushrooms and cocaine a few times – never really liked it, though. And I’ve also tried 4-MMC.

Have you ever been afraid of developing a problem?
I don't think I'm prone to addiction. But there was a time when I felt like I was taking too many drugs, too often. My friends pointed it out to me and I started asking myself questions and setting some limits. 

[At one point] I was going through a tough breakup and started partying more and more. At first it was fun and exciting. Then you start to feel the side effects: the comedown, the hangover, the lack of sleep. I realised that I didn't do much else on the weekend except partying and that I had to reassess my consumption.

How do you manage the comedown when you have to go to work?
What affects me most is the lack of sleep and the difficulty concentrating. But I work four days a week, so I know I can recover.

How do you see your drug use evolving?
It's not going to become more regular but I believe it's here to stay as an option outside of alcohol. I want to continue to use drugs responsibly – I can't see myself doing this when I'm 50, but as long as it's not problematic, I’ll keep going.