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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ecstasy Has Long Lasting Effects

Ecstasy (MDMA) is a popular club drug amongst teenagers and young adults due to the intense euphoria experienced as well as the auditory and visual hallucinations that can take place. According to new research, the drug may produce long lasting changes in the brain that users should be aware of before they continue using the drug.

A new study has shown that the drug can cause a drop in the levels of the brain chemical serotonin for up to two years, according to HealthDay. Serotonin regulates:
  • mood
  • appetite
  • sleep
  • learning
  • memory

“We’ve always known that ecstasy produced transient effects, but with the suggestion that there would be recovery over time,” study co-author Dr. Ronald Cowan of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s School of Medicine told HealthDay. “But here we find that these effects may be sustained over time with no evidence of reversal.” He noted the study found an association between the drug and the drop in serotonin, but did not prove Ecstasy caused the decrease.

24 women took part in the study, 14 who used Ecstasy between three to four years. Brain scans were used to determine the number of brain receptors for serotonin. The receptor levels increase as serotonin levels go down, the article notes. The women who took Ecstasy had higher receptor levels than those who did not take the drug, which may mean that women who used the drug had a drop in serotonin levels.

The more Ecstasy the women took, the higher their receptor levels, the researchers report in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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