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Ecstasy users may suffer from cognitive impairment

Ecstasy users may suffer from cognitive impairment

Ecstasy users may suffer from cognitive impairment

April 28th, 2016 | ASAH Team

Adolescents abusing ecstasy pills for recreational purposes is a common phenomenon. Ecstasy is the designer version of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine or MDMA available in tablet form.

MDMA is an illegal drug, banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with other Schedule I drugs with no curative or remedial value. Commonly available in clubs, rave parties or EDM festivals, the use of this psychoactive drug manifests the same hallucinogenic impact as amphetamine stimulants or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Ecstasy associated with low cognitive level

A team of scientists from the University of Liverpool conducted a study to evaluate the effect of ecstasy on different parts of the brain. The researchers assessed seven previous independent studies that used molecular imaging to analyze the neuropsychological impact of ecstasy on people regularly using the drug.

The previous studies had contrasted the results obtained from observation of the ecstasy users to that of healthy individuals in the control group regarding the various standards of neuropsychological function, to understand if ecstasy led to prolonged cognitive impairments. As ecstasy users tend to use it in conjunction with other drugs, the researchers attempted to seek if it had any bearing on the effect of the drug.

While observing the impact of the drug, the researchers found that ecstasy users exhibited diminished proportions in the manner serotonin is carried in the brain. As serotonin is necessary to control and modulate several processes within the brain, including mood, feelings, hostility, cravings, longings, anxiousness and cognitive abilities, the effect of the drug in monitoring the necessary emotional reactions can be grave.

One of the researchers, Dr. Carl Roberts from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said, “The research team conducted the analysis on seven papers that fitted our inclusion criteria which provided us with data from 157 ecstasy users and 148 controls. 11 out of the 14 brain regions included in analysis showed serotonin transporter (SERT) reductions in ecstasy users compared to those who took other drugs.”

He said, “We conclude that, in line with animal data, the nerve fibers, or axons, furthest away from where serotonin neurons are produced (in the raphe nuclei) are most susceptible to the effects of MDMA. That is to say that these areas show the greatest changes following MDMA use.”

Significance of the study

The results obtained from the analysis of the previous studies indicated that the perceived and distinguished impact on serotonin neurons plays a role in mood changes linked with ecstasy/MDMA use apart from other observed psychobiological changes. The clinical importance of this study, published in the journal NeuroScience and Biobehavioral Reviews in February 2016, is based on many conjectures and speculations and hence, further research in the field is necessary.

The observations made during the research justify the cognitive disabilities observed in ecstasy users and underscores the necessity to understand the impact of the drug on its users. Roberts said, “The study provides us with a platform for further research into the effect long term chronic ecstasy use can have on brain function.”

Dealing with addiction

Young adults indulging in ecstasy do so without realizing its adverse effects. While its users might enjoy the rush of feelings, the effect of this drug that lasts for nearly six hours is known to damage the brain cells and impair thinking ability and memory.

If you or your loved one is grappling with addiction, you may get in touch with the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline to know about the best treatment facilities available around you. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-857-5777 or chat online for further expert advice.

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