Ecstasy

By Fabrizio Schifano Chair in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at University of Hertfordshire

Fabrizio is a member of the UK advisory council on the misuse of drugs. He has also received EC funding in relation to researching the effects of novel psychoactive substances. These views are his own and in no way represent either the council or the EC.

In one respect, the world’s drug problem is not getting much worse. The UN believes that the use of drugs such as cocaine and heroin has stabilised, for example. In fact, the ground in the drugs battle has just shifted. The focus is now increasingly on legal highs.

People might be aware that altered versions of ecstasy or cannabis are available nowadays, but the true range of what we in the trade call novel psychoactive drugs is far more varied. There are derivatives of everything from ketamine to cocaine, from opiates to psychotropics. Their use is rising, and so is the number of fatalities. Some people fear that the figures are only going in one direction.

Enforcers vs chemists

Why has this happened? In recent years there was a worldwide decrease in the purity of drugs like amphetamine and cocaine and the MDMA content of ecstasy. This decrease helped fuel demand for alternatives (though admittedly there are signs that this purity decrease is now reversing). The internet has also made possible the sort of sharing of information that makes it much easier to sell these substances nowadays. And as has been well documented, banning these drugs is difficult because the manufacturers can constantly bring out new varieties with slight alterations to the chemistry.

It has turned into a battle between the drug enforcers and the drug chemists, who are typically based in the Far East, for example in China and Hong Kong. There are many databases online with information on the molecular structures of existing drugs. This makes it easier for these people to modify them to create a new product.

The market is very strong in the UK. You might think it is because the information online is often written in English. This would explain why Ireland has a big problem too, but then again the US does not. And other problem countries includeLatvia, Hungary, Estonia and Russia.

The big worries

Certain categories particularly worry us. One is the ecstasy derivatives known as phenethylamines. One of the well-known ones in the UK is PMA, which has been nicknamed “Dr Death” because of the number of fatalities. Another is known as “blue mystique”. These have been made illegal in a number of European countries, but many more keep appearing. A related group is known as NBOMe, which are very powerful and therefore also a great concern.

Then there are cannabimimetics, which are sometimes known as the “spice drugs”. There are a few hundred known variations, many of which are very powerful, sometimes thousands of times more than cannabis. They were behind the “spiceophrenia” epidemic in Russia, but are prevalent closer to home too. Last week a new HM Prisons report mentioned them among a number of legal-high concerns in British prisons. To make matters worse, they are very easy to modify and have the big selling point that they can’t always be traced in urine.

Sometimes legal highs are marketed as a solution to a problem that an illegal drug might cause. For example ketamine (“special K”) is known to damage the intestine and bladder, so a new drug reached the market called methoxetamine, or “special M,” which claimed to be bladder-friendly. But in fact it is still toxic for the bladder and also the kidney and central nervous system. And after it was made illegal, a number of other derivatives appeared such as diphenidine. The health risks associated with this class makes the new versions particularly scary.

The unwinnable battle?

We often don’t know how these drugs affect people. Researchers like myself are working on this, but the number of new substances is increasing too quickly for us to keep up. By the time we publish papers focusing on more popular versions, the market has changed. When something goes wrong, doctors don’t know how to treat the effects – in many cases they can’t even ascertain the exact drug.

We have reached the point where I am now more worried about legal highs than illegal drugs. Whenever I see a heroin client in my clinic, I know exactly what to do. That is often not the case with legal highs. And as a psychiatrist I know that they potentially have far more psychiatric consequences than heroin. Whenever you tamper with very sensitive mechanisms in your brain, it’s difficult to know what will happen.

One argument is that we should keep these drugs legal since we are facing an unwinnable battle. But the big drawback with this is that it makes adolescents and other susceptible people think that the drug must be safe. New Zealand tried this approach by permitting drugs to remain in circulation if the producers could demonstrate they were low risk, but this year the government U-turned after there were a number of adverse incidents. Now its approach is similar to the UK with its expanding prohibition schedule.

The problem with the New Zealand low-risk policy is that establishing the safety of a drug is a very slow process if you are going to do it properly. Proving through clinical trials that a drug works, is safe and is not toxic takes upwards of 10 years. Anything less would be cutting corners. If a manufacturer were to go through that process and prove that a drug was low risk, that might be a different discussion, but it’s not going to help with today’s problem.

Similarly there has been some debate about permitting the supply of legal highs but keeping it tightly restricted – perhaps allowing one distributor per town, for example. But this both ignores the reality of the internet and offers no answer to the safety problem.

Another possibility is to legalise the illegal drugs that we know much more about, so that people are encouraged to take them instead. But even if this was politically possible, it doesn’t sound like the right course of action either. I see disasters from drug-taking on a daily basis. And it wouldn’t necessarily stop people from taking legal highs anyway.

The answer to what we actually should do is complex. The answer probably lies in prevention: we need dedicated resources and funding, we need new ideas to try and convince youngsters that these drugs are not safe just because they are legal. This requires a big change in how we see these substances. These are not just some marginal concern. This is the new drug battle for the decades ahead.

Source:  http://theconversation.com/legal-highs-regulation-wont-work  29th October 2014

After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world in a backwoods cabin in North Carolina. Divorced, alcoholic and at times suicidal, he had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder: psychotherapy, group therapy and nearly a dozen different medications. “Nothing worked for me, so I put aside the idea that I could get better,” said Mr. Hardin, 37. “I just pretty much became a hermit in my cabin and never went out.”

Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy.  “It changed my life,” he said in a recent interview in the bright, airy living room of the suburban ranch house here, where he now lives while going to college and working as an airplane mechanic. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.”

Based on promising results like Mr. Hardin’s, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug — a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug.   If successful, the trials could turn an illicit street substance into a potent treatment for PTSD.   Through a spokeswoman, the F.D.A. declined to comment, citing regulations that prohibit disclosing information about drugs that are being developed.

“I’m cautious but hopeful,” said Dr. Charles R. Marmar, the head of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine, a leading PTSD researcher who was not involved in the study. “If they can keep getting good results, it will be of great use. PTSD can be very hard to treat. Our best therapies right now don’t help 30 to 40 percent of people. So we need more options.”  But he expressed concern about the potential for abuse. “It’s a feel-good drug, and we know people are prone to abuse it,” he said. “Prolonged use can lead to serious damage to the brain.”

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a small non-profit created in 1985 to advocate the legal medical use of MDMA, LSD, marijuana and other banned drugs, sponsored six Phase 2 studies treating a total of 130 PTSD patients with the stimulant. It will also fund the Phase 3 research, which will include at least 230 patients.

Two trials here in Charleston focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years.

After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy.

“We can sometimes see this kind of remarkable improvement in traditional psychotherapy, but it can take years, if it happens at all,” said Dr. Michael C. Mithoefer, the psychiatrist who conducted the trials here.   “We think it works as a catalyst that speeds the natural healing process.”  The researchers are so optimistic that they have applied for so-called breakthrough therapy status with the Food and Drug Administration, which would speed the approval process. If approved, the drug could be available by 2021.

Under the researchers’ proposal for approval, the drug would be used a limited number of times in the presence of trained psychotherapists as part of a broader course of therapy. But even in those controlled circumstances, some scientists worry that approval as a therapy could encourage more illegal recreational use.

“It sends the message that this drug will help you solve your problems, when often it just creates problems,” said Andrew Parrott, a psychologist at Swansea University in Wales who has studied the brains of chronic Ecstasy users. “This is a messy drug we know can do damage.”

Allowing doctors to administer the drug to treat a disorder, he warned, could inadvertently lead to a wave of abuse similar to the current opioid crisis.  During initial studies, patients went through 12 weeks of psychotherapy, including three eight-hour sessions in which they took MDMA. During the sessions, they lay on a futon amid candles and fresh flowers, listening to soothing music.

Dr. Mithoefer and his wife, Ann Mithoefer, and often their portly terrier mix, Flynn, sat with each patient, guiding them through traumatic memories.  “The medicine allows them to look at things from a different place and reclassify them,” said Ms. Mithoefer, a psychiatric nurse. “Honestly, we don’t have to do much. Each person has an innate ability to heal. We just create the right conditions.”

Research has shown that the drug causes the brain to release a flood of hormones and neurotransmitters that evoke feelings of trust, love and well-being, while also muting fear and negative emotional memories that can be overpowering in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients say the drug gave them heightened clarity and ability to address their problems.

For years after his combat deployments, Mr. Hardin said he was sleepless and on edge. His dreams were marked with explosions and death. The Army gave him sleeping pills and antidepressants. When they didn’t work, he turned to alcohol and began withdrawing from the world.

Ed Thompson, a former firefighter, took part in a study of Ecstasy as a treatment for PTSD. Without the drug, “he’d be dead,” his wife said.  “I just felt hopeless and in the dark,” he said. “But the MDMA sessions showed me a light I could move toward. Now I’m out of the darkness and the world is all around me.”  Since the trial, he has gone back to school and remarried.

The chemist Alexander Shulgin first realized the euphoria-inducing traits of MDMA in the 1970s, and introduced it to psychologists he knew. Under the nickname Adam, thousands of psychologists began to use it as an aid for therapy sessions. Some researchers at the time thought the drug could be helpful for anxiety disorders, including PTSD, but before formal clinical trails could start, Adam spread to dance clubs and college campuses under the name Ecstasy, and in 1985, the Drug Enforcement Administration made it a Schedule 1 drug, barring all legal use.

Since then, the number of people seeking treatment for PTSD has exploded and psychiatry has struggled to keep pace. Two drugs approved for treating the disorder worked only mildly better than placebos in trials. Current psychotherapy approaches are often slow and many patients drop out when they don’t see results. Studies have shown combat veterans are particularly hard to treat.

In interviews, study participants said MDMA therapy had not only helped them with painful memories, but also had helped them stop abusing alcohol and other drugs and put their lives back together.

On a recent evening, Edward Thompson, a former firefighter, tucked his twin 4-year-old girls into bed, turned on their night light, then joined his wife at a backyard fire. “If it weren’t for MDMA …” he said   “He’d be dead,” his wife, Laura, finished.   They both nodded.

Years of responding to gory accidents left Mr. Thompson, 30, in a near constant state of panic that he had tried to numb with alcohol and prescription opiates and benzodiazepines.  By 2015, efforts at therapy had failed, and so had several family interventions. His wife had left with their children, and he was considering jumping in front of a bus.

A member of a conservative Anglican church, Mr. Thompson had never used illegal drugs. But he was struggling with addiction from his prescription drugs, so he at first rejected a suggestion by his therapist that he enter the study. “In the end, I was out of choices,” he said.

Three sessions with the drug gave him the clarity, he said, to identify his problems and begin to work through them. He does not wish to take the drug again.  “It gave me my life back, but it wasn’t a party drug,” he said. “It was a lot of work.”

Correction: November 29, 2016

An earlier version of this article misstated the year that the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies was founded. It was 1985, not 1986. A picture caption misspelled the surname of a psychiatrist and his wife, a psychiatric nurse, who studied the use of Ecstasy. They are Dr. Michael C. Mithoefer and Ann Mithoefer, not Mitheofer.

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/ptsd-mdma-ecstasy.html

By Celia Vimont

September 21st, 2016

There are many misperceptions about MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, according to a researcher on substance abuse at the University of South Florida. One of the most common myths is that Molly is a pure form of Ecstasy, says Khary Rigg, PhD.  In fact, Molly is simply a powder or crystal form of MDMA, while Ecstasy is the pill form, said Dr. Rigg, who spoke about MDMA at the recent National Prevention Network annual conference. “Molly has a reputation for being a pure form of MDMA, but it is often as adulterated as Ecstasy is,” he said.

“I became interested in Molly when I was watching the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, and noticed Miley Cyrus was singing a song and one of the lyrics was bleeped out,” Dr. Rigg recalled. “I looked it up and realized she had made a reference to Molly in the song.” That is when Dr. Rigg first realized that Molly had crossed over into mainstream popular culture. Before that, Molly and Ecstasy were mostly used by gay men and fans of electronic dance music. “Now it’s being used more widely, including in minority communities,” he said. Dr. Rigg recently completed a study on MDMA use among African Americans and will be publishing his findings in the next few months.

Molly, short for molecule, first became popular in the early 2000’s, but figuring out exactly how many Americans use Molly hasn’t been easy. “It has been difficult to get national data on the popularity of Molly because national surveys have only asked about people’s use of Ecstasy,” said Dr. Rigg. This has recently changed, however, and surveillance systems such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health have started including Molly in their definition of MDMA. Molly is typically sold in capsules or in a baggie and is usually swallowed, although it can also be snorted.

In recent years, MDMA overdoses at concerts and music festivals have been receiving headlines. But Dr. Rigg warns that, “Many so-called overdoses of Molly or Ecstasy are not really overdoses. When we call them overdoses, the real causes of these deaths are obscured. MDMA deaths are almost never due to taking too much of the drug. The real culprits are heatstroke, hydration issues, and having a pre-existing health condition.”

Many people who take Molly believe that drinking water makes it safe. “You’ll hear that Molly can dehydrate you, and that’s true, but it can also cause you to retain water. So, while it’s important to remain hydrated, people should also be careful not to drink too much water. As a rule of thumb, you only need to replenish the water that you sweat out,” Dr. Rigg says. Certain health conditions are also to blame for some MDMA deaths. Dr. Rigg cautions, “Using MDMA can be dangerous and even fatal for people with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and seizure disorder.” Organizations like Dance Safe are trying to reduce the number of MDMA deaths at electronic music festivals and clubs by distributing educational materials about the risks of MDMA. They also provide free water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and heatstroke, and offer drug-testing kits that instantly indicate whether there are “unknown and potentially more dangerous adulterants” in powder and tablets. Dr. Rigg says that this harm-reduction approach to MDMA use is more widespread in other countries, particularly in Europe, but is gaining traction in the United States.

There is some question about whether MDMA can cause Parkinson’s disease. “Some research indicates that prolonged Ecstasy use can damage the brain’s ability to produce dopamine which could hasten the onset of the disease,” he notes. “An underlying cause of Parkinson’s is a decreased ability to produce dopamine, so there could be a link, but we need more research to say for sure.” Dr. Rigg points out that because of its Schedule I status, research on MDMA is heavily restricted in the U.S. which has hampered how much is known about the long-term effects of the drug.

Dr. Rigg says that before MDMA was banned in 1985, some therapists would give the drug to clients during counseling sessions, because they found it helped them talk about their feelings. Currently, there are several clinical trials taking place to evaluate the potential of using MDMA to help treat PTSD and anxiety.

Despite misinformation surrounding MDMA, Dr. Rigg expects use of the drug to continue rising. He notes that Molly’s popularity has soared in hip-hop/rap music and is now being endorsed by top artists as a sexual enhancer. MDMA use is also being depicted in many popular television shows and movies which serves to normalize use of the drug. He says that for prevention efforts to be effective, we must go beyond simple “just say no” messages, and incorporate aspects of supply reduction, drug education, and harm reduction.

Source: http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/many-myths-surround-molly-ecstasy-expert/   21st Sept. 2016

Filed under: Ecstasy,Synthetics,USA :

Crystals and tablets in the Spanish ecstasy market 2000–2014: Are they the same or different in terms of purity and adulteration?

Highlights

* Crystal samples of ecstasy showed clear differences in relation to tablets.

* Proportion of samples containing only MDMA was higher in crystals.

* Caffeine was the main adulterant detected both in crystals and tablets.

* Recent increase in the amount of MDMA in tablets was not observed in crystals.

* Since 2009, the number of adulterants identified increased in both formats.

ABSTRACT

Background

Although 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) has a long history in recreational settings, research on its composition (purity and adulteration) has focused only on tablets even though crystal format is readily available for users.

Methods

Drug specimens collected between January 2000 and December 2014 were analyzed at Energy Control’s facilities. All samples were voluntarily provided by drug users. Sample identification was made with thin layer chromatography and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, and quantification with ultraviolet spectrophotometry (only in unadulterated samples).

Results

Between January 2000 and December 2014, 6200 samples purchased as ecstasy by their users were analyzed. Crystals were the most frequent format (60.6%) followed by tablets (38.8%). During the study period, the proportion of samples containing only MDMA was higher in crystals than in tablets. Compared with tablets, adulterated crystal samples contained the same number of adulterants but more combinations of different substances. Although caffeine was commonly detected as adulterant both in crystals and tablets, other substances such as phenacetin, lidocaine, dextrometorphan or methamphetamine were detected almost exclusively in crystal samples. The amount of MDMA in crystal samples remained stable unlike tablets for which a huge increase in MDMA dose was observed since 2010.

Conclusion

Crystal samples of ecstasy showed clear differences compared to ecstasy tablets and this must be taken into account both in research and harm reduction.

Source:    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.04.016  Volume 263, Pages 164–168

Filed under: Ecstasy :

SUSAN SCHENK AND DAVID HARPER

REUTERS

Ecstasy deserves to remain an illegal drug, as there is substantial evidence of it causing harm.

A dangerous case is being made in New Zealand for the legalisation of MDMA, the primary active ingredient of the street drug, Ecstasy.

Ecstasy rose in popularity among the rave party scene in the early 1980s. Use has since spread to more mainstream groups. New Zealanders are some of the heaviest users of ecstasy worldwide, with an estimated 13 per cent of Kiwi respondents to the Global Drug Survey having used ecstasy in the past year.  Supporters of the move to legalise claim the drug is safe, and recent comments made by Wellington Hospital emergency department specialist, Dr Paul Quigley, would seem to support this position.  Quigley has reported few emergency admissions related to ecstasy use, and from this he has incorrectly assumed this means that MDMA use poses minimal harm.

Emergency room admissions are a flawed benchmark for determining the safety of a drug, such as MDMA, as the major harm associated with MDMA is the death of brain cells, and associated behaviour changes.   These effects are generally not life-threatening and would therefore not lead users to seek emergency care.

This does not, however, indicate that MDMA is safe.

Rather, considerable published evidence has demonstrated that memory loss and attention issues are common in MDMA users and there is compelling evidence for the loss of the brain chemical, serotonin, which leads to further problems associated with sleep patterns and emotional wellbeing.

These effects can seriously impact the individual’s ability to lead a productive life, and it is common for users to experience negative emotional after-effects of ecstasy. Importantly, there are no quick fixes for the many detrimental effects of ecstasy and these effects may persist for years.

It has also been suggested that MDMA dependence is not a likely consequence of use, providing proponents of legalisation another indication that MDMA use poses minimal harm.   This too is unsupported in the scientific literature.

* John Key unconvinced by emergency doctor’s call to legalise MDMA

* Don’t freak out over changing drug laws

For most drugs of abuse, including cocaine and methamphetamine (P), about 10-15 per cent of users become dependent on the drug. The same is true of ecstasy users.

Studies have suggested that a subset of ecstasy users progress to misuse and consume the drug frequently and in high dosages.  In New Zealand, the Illicit Drug Monitoring System provides a snapshot of heavy drug users over time.

According to this authoritative survey, ecstasy use among heavy drug users is substantial, and 15 per cent use ecstasy weekly.  An online survey in Britain suggests MDMA users were more likely to report dependence symptoms than users of cocaine.

Another assumption is that by regulating the supply of MDMA, both producers and users will engage in safe drug production and use.  While it is true that most users don’t know what else they are actually taking when taking an ecstasy pill – it is frequently mixed with any range of other substances, some harmful, some not – that doesn’t mean that pure MDMA is actually safe.

Perhaps ‘safer’, but not ‘safe’.

New Zealand has toyed with legalisation of psychoactive substances for many years. First there were the BZP-TFMPP “legal highs” that were subsequently banned as they were shown to be dangerous after all.  The same was true of synthetic cannabis products that have also recently been banned because they were shown to pose more than an acceptable risk of harm.

Despite what has recently been suggested in the media, there is substantial evidence of harm and risk arising from the use of MDMA.  We have been studying the effects of MDMA on brain and behaviour for about 10 years, and the negative effects of ecstasy have been well-documented by us and many other researchers.

Knowing what we know about ecstasy use, and the well-documented negative consequences of its use, the potential for misuse and the persistent and prolific adverse consequences of MDMA use, it is clear that unrestricted use of MDMA poses a great risk of harm, and that it would be irresponsible to provide MDMA for legal sale in New Zealand.

Professor Susan Schenk is from Victoria University’s school of psychology, and Professor David Harper is the dean of science.

Source:  stuff.co.nz  29th June 2015

Several students and visitors from Wesleyan University were hospitalized on February 22 after taking the club drug MDMA. U.S. DEA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS/REUTERS

At least 11 people from the Wesleyan University campus in Middletown, Connecticut, were hospitalized on Sunday with symptoms consistent with drug overdoses. School officials and emergency responders are blaming MDMA, also known as Molly, a form of the drug ecstasy that medical experts say has become increasingly popular on college campuses.

Though some reports said 11 people had received medical treatment, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth put the number at 12 in an email to students on Monday. That includes 10 students and two visitors.

“I ask all students: Please, please stay away from illegal substances, the use of which can put you in extreme danger. One mistake can change your life forever,” Roth wrote. “And please keep those still hospitalized in your hearts and minds. Please join me in supporting their recovery with your prayers, thoughts and friendship.”

In a statement on Monday, a Middletown Police Department spokeswoman, Lieutenant Heather Desmond, wrote that her department would be involved in an investigation into “the origin of the drugs taken” and to “determine the extent of the criminal involvement in the case.”

A spokeswoman for Middlesex Hospital tells Newsweek it treated 11 people, three of whom are still there and four of whom were airlifted by helicopter to Hartford Hospital. She could not comment on the conditions of the three patients there. A spokeswoman for Hartford Hospital confirmed that four people were there. She too could not speak to their conditions. The police spokeswoman wrote that two individuals are in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

Middletown Fire Chief Robert Kronenberger tells Newsweek his department made seven runs to Wesleyan related to the incident on Sunday after receiving calls between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It rendered aid to eight individuals, including two people in a single dorm room. “We saw the trend and we worked with the university and the police department to notify them of the trend,” Kronenberger says. “We’ve never had anything to this extent,” he says, referring to health and safety issues at Wesleyan. “A couple of them were in some serious dire straits,” he says about the students, adding that they were cooperative. “As a parent of two college-age students, this definitely concerns me and hopefully something to this extent will open eyes,” he says.

Wesleyan’s student newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, first reported about the incident on its website on Sunday after the school’s vice president for student affairs, Michael Whaley, sent a series of emails to students.

Medical experts say MDMA use on college campuses has grown in recent years, and while there have been reports of bad reactions to the drug, it appears the Wesleyan incident is the most widespread.

In 2013, a University of Virginia sophomore collapsed at a nightclub after taking MDMA and later died. Students at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York; Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire; and Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas have also died after taking the drug. In 2013, organizers of the Electric Zoo music festival in New York City cut the event short after two people died while taking MDMA, including a University of New Hampshire student.

“This age group is a risk-taking group that is willing to follow their friend wherever they go, and if the person next to them is popping a pill, then they’re going to do it too,” says Dr. Mark Neavyn, director of medical toxicology at Hartford Hospital, who treats patients there for MDMA overdoses.

“I think the popular culture engine kind of made it seem safer in some way,” Neavyn says, referring to references to the drug by the singers Miley Cyrus and Madonna that made headlines.

But when it comes to MDMA, people are rarely taking what they think they’re taking, the doctor says.

According to Neavyn, symptoms of an MDMA overdose include fast heart rate, high blood pressure, delirium, elevated body temperature and alterations in consciousness. Extreme cases could involve cardiac arrhythmia and seizures.

Wesleyan, which has about 2,900 full-time undergraduate students and 200 graduate students, also apparently dealt with MDMA-related issues last semester. As the Argus reported, the school’s Health Services Department emailed students on September 16 following a series of MDMA-related hospitalizations.

One former Wesleyan student from the class of 2011, who requested anonymity when discussing drug use, says the news is not surprising, given the prevalence of drugs on campus. “Anything you can imagine…would be readily available there,” the person says. “I don’t think at Wesleyan you need [a campus event] to take drugs. If it’s sunny, there’s probably a good percentage of people that are taking something.”

The campus activities calendar did not show any major events scheduled for Saturday or Sunday.

Another former Wesleyan student from the class of 2012, who also requested anonymity, says the drug culture at Wesleyan is comparable to that at similar schools. “It’s one of those things where, much like at those schools, you kind of have an understanding of where you can go to get it and who had it,” the person says. “If there’s a will there’s a way.”

www.newsweek.com weds Feb. 2015

International Narcotics Control Board report says US and Uruguay are breaking drug treaties and warns of huge rise in abuse of ADHD treatment Ritalin

The United Nations has renewed its warnings to Uruguay and the US states of Colorado and Washington that their cannabis legalisation policies fail to comply with international drug treaties.

The annual report from the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, which is responsible for policing the drug treaties, said it would send a high-level mission to Uruguay, which became the first country to legalise the production, distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes.

The UN drug experts said they would also continue their dialogue with the US government over the commercial sale and distribution of cannabis in Colorado and Washington state.

The possession and cultivation of cannabis became legal on 26 February inWashington DC. Voters in Oregon and Alaska have also approved initiatives to legalise the commercial trade in cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.

The INCB said it “continues to engage in a constructive dialogue” with the US government on cannabis developments and it is clear the UN is putting strong pressure on the US government to ensure that the drug remains illegal at a federal level.

The US government has issued new guidance to banks on their provision of services to marijuana-related businesses and all state attorneys have been reminded of the need to investigate and prosecute cannabis cases in all states.

The INCB said it was aware that the US government intended to monitor the impact on public health of legalising cannabis and has again reminded the Obama administration that the position in Colorado and Washington meant the states were failing to comply with the treaties.

Lochan Naidoo, the INCB president, said the limitation of use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to medical and scientific purposes was one of the fundamental principles underpinning the international drug control framework. “This legal obligation is absolute and leaves no room for interpretation,” he said.

The UN body also renewed its call for the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences and voiced concern that Oman was proposing to make use of the death penalty for drug-trafficking offences.

The INCB’s annual report records a further rise in the number of new “legal highs” or psychoactive substances that have been identified. The number has risen from 348 to 388 in the past year – an increase of more than 11%. More than 100 countries are taking action against “legal highs” and the INCB has welcomed moves by China, considered by many to be one of the main sources, to start banning these synthetic substances that imitate the effects of traditional drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy.

The UN drug board also warns of a 66% increase in the global consumption of a stimulant, methylphenidate, which is primarily used in the treatment of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is better known by one of its trade names, Ritalin. The rise has been seen in its use by teenagers and young adults in the US, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Australia.

It also highlights the lack of access for 5.5 billion people to medicines containing drugs such as codeine and morphine, which means that 75% of the world’s population do not have access to proper pain-relief treatment.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society 3rd March 2015

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 16 million people have used ecstasy at some point in their life, and during the 2012 year, 869,000 people used ecstasy for the first time, far higher than the number of new LSD and PCP users combined. The number of new ecstasy users is also greater than the number of new users of cocaine, stimulants, and inhalants. The percentage of people who will use ecstasy sometime in their life is between 2 percent and 3.5 percent. The average age for first-time users was 20.3 years old, smack dab in the middle of the college years.

Ecstasy has been and remains primarily a college drug. Not only is it a college drug, it’s a college party drug. It is a hallucinogen, and users report increased energy and feelings of connectedness to others. An article in the Suffolk Journal quotes a student, Steve, saying, “It’s everything. In your head, you’re happy with the position you’re in. Physically, things around you feel good, familiar. You feel what it is and enjoy it.”

Perfect for a party, right? According to a fact sheet from The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention, ecstasy also creates short term effects including severe anxiety, paranoia, teeth clenching, and sweating. Longer term effects include impulsivity and damage to areas of the brain involved in thinking and memory. Additional dangers include the frequent combination of ecstasy with other drugs including heroin and methamphetamines, which can cause physical harm to long-term overall health.

In 2001, there were 76 deaths attributed to ecstasy use, most due to heatstroke associated with dancing to the point of dehydration and exhaustion. Additional deaths are attributed to hyponatremia—drinking too much water without accompanying salts, due to the fear of heatstroke while taking ecstasy.

The risks of the drug extend far past use of the drug itself. Ecstasy is commonly known as the “love drug” and consequences of this love drug include everything you might expect when young people have sex without the use of their best judgment, from unplanned pregnancies to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to legal problems due to unclear consent. College-aged ecstasy users are more likely to have unprotected sex. This population also has a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS and herpes. Finally, ecstasy use leads to a higher rate of unwanted sex, especially in young women who take the drug. Additionally, the use of ecstasy increases suicide risk. Also quoted in the Suffolk Journal article, a student named Ryan says, “It gives you a feeling of euphoria for four or five hours, but then you feel like shit when it’s over. You feel depressed. You shouldn’t take it if you’re already depressed. You’ll just feel worse.” A study from the National Institutes of Health confirms this observation, finding almost double the risk for suicide in young adults that had used the drug in the past year and writing that, “Adolescent ecstasy users may require enhanced suicide prevention and intervention efforts.”

No matter its name—ecstasy, X, E, molly, or others like love drug, dancing shoes, skittles, or beans—the fact of the drug is that it is an unpredictable mix of lab chemicals produced in uncontrolled labs around the world, likely designed for stimulation and hallucination. With ecstasy, you simply don’t know what you’re getting and so you can’t predict its effect. Every time you take ecstasy is a roll of the dice. Is it really worth it?

Source: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/science-addiction/  August 2014

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health :

Jodie Muir, 16, is thought to have taken the drug at a house party in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, on Friday night, attended by about 50 people. She was unwell when she returned home and died several hours later, prompting a police inquiry. 

Last night, a senior officer warned of the dangers of the drug, which is rapidly  regaining popularity. However, her mother claims the teenager did not take the drug and died of heart failure as a result of Long QT syndrome, a rare heart condition that can cause fainting and arrhythmia. Jodie’s death appears to be the latest in a series of drug-related fatalities in recent months, caused by ecstasy or so-called ‘legal highs’ that replicate the effects of drugs.

These new substances are not yet controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Drugs misuse expert Professor Neil McKeganey said: ‘The growing number of deaths should be a wake-up call to the Government, just as it should be to young people in Scotland.’

Jodie is understood to have taken an ecstasy-type tablet at the party on Friday night. She returned home feeling unwell at around 5am and died several hours later.Last night, shocked school friends laid flowers at Eastbank Academy, Glasgow, where she had been a pupil. Police yesterday issued an urgent plea to speak to anyone who attended the party.A post-mortem examination has been carried out, but police said further tests were needed to establish the cause of death.

Chief Superintendent Ciorstan Shearer of Police Scotland said: ‘My sympathies are with the girl’s family. We have specially trained officers providing assistance and support to them at this sad time. ‘As it has been suggested that she may have taken some form of ecstasy-type drug, it is vital that we trace the other people who were also at the party to ensure that  they are safe and well. 

‘I would urge anyone who was at this party and has taken drugs and is feeling unwell, or knows of someone who took drugs at the party, to attend or contact their local hospital for treatment or advice.’ She added that it was ‘a very painful and upsetting time for the girl’s family and friends and Police Scotland will do all that we can to support her family’. 

Later, Chief Supt Shearer said: ‘At this time we know that there were around 40 to 50 other teenagers at this party in Rutherglen and we have managed to speak to a significant number of them.  A post-mortem examination has been carried out, but police said  further tests were needed to establish the cause of death

‘It is vital, however, that those who have not already spoken to police come forward as soon as possible, first and foremost to ensure that they are safe and well, but also because they may be in a position to provide vital information to assist the ongoing investigation.’

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde consultant in public health medicine Dr Anne Scoular said: ‘Many drugs are unregulated and no one knows what they contain or the effects they may have. People offered drugs should think very carefully before taking them. ‘I would urge anyone who has taken drugs and experiences symptoms suchas a high temperature, aggression and muscle pains or begins to feel unwell or feels a more intense high to seek immediate medical help.’

GROWING DANGER: RECENT SCOTTISH VICTIMS OF ‘LEGAL HIGHS’

In February, clubber Regane MacColl, 17, of Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, fell ill on a night out at the Arches in Glasgow and died in hospital after taking a Mortal Kombat pill, an ecstasy-type substance. 

Helen Henderson, 19, died in April after taking a ‘meow meow’ legal high tablet during a marathon 36-hour party at her home in Renfrew. She is also believed to have swallowed horse tranquilliser ketamine before collapsing on a bed where she was found by friends.

In 1997, 13-year-old Andrew Woodcock of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, became the youngest Scot to die after taking Ecstasy.

There has been a 15-fold rise in the number of seizures of ecstasy-type drugs in the space of a year, while nine people died after consuming them in 2012 – up from none in 2010. Scottish Government figures show 157,900 seizures of individual ecstasy-type  tablets took place in 2011-12, compared with 10,000 in 2010-11. 

Drug experts at Police Scotland said ecstasy ‘gradually fell out of favour in the mid-1990s’. But in November 2010, it was noticed that it was beginning to return. Deaths linked to ‘legal highs’ could overtake those linked to heroin by 2016, according to experts on addiction.  The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) claims hospital admissions are soaring and forecasts that deaths linked to the drugs could be higher than heroin in just two years.The rise of ‘legal highs’ – or new psychoactive substances (NPS) – were linked to 97 deaths in 2012.

Hospital admissions due to legal highs rose by 56 per cent between 2009-12, according to new CSJ data. The think-tank forecasts that on current trends deaths related to the drugs could be higher than heroin by 2016 – at around 400 deaths per year. 

THE KILLER PILL: THE DANGERS OF PARTY DRUG ECSTASY  

Ecstasy came into widespread use in the 1980s, when taking it was linked to raves and dance music. Its effects include euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others and diminished anxiety and depression.

In the U.S., more than 12 million people have taken it. But its use has been linked to damage to the central nervous system. Research in recent years has suggested that long-term changes to emotional states and behaviour have been triggered by consumption of the drug, which affects chemical receptors in the brain.

The synthetic stimulant, for example, triggers the release of dopamine, the chemical that controls the nervous system, producing a massive increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This can prove fatal.

Medical studies also report that one in four people have suffered unpleasant side-effects, such as extreme paranoia and insomnia. Campaigners believe that ecstasy poses a real risk of triggering brain damage. They have argued that it can induce memory loss, decrease cognitive performance and has long-lasting effects on behaviour.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2727724/ 18th August 2014

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health,Legal Highs :

A newly fashionable drug is setting off alarm bells in the minds of both health officials and parents.  The drug known as “molly” has a rather innocent-sounding name. It is a type of MDMA (commonly called Ecstasy) that has been implicated in several deaths over recent weeks.  Four teens and young adults have died and others have been hospitalized after taking the drug during concerts and dance festivals on the East Coast. Needless to say, this drug is not only dangerous, but may lead to the need for addiction treatment for those who use it.

Molly’s Sought After Effects

Molly is a synthetic drug that’s been around since the 1970s.  However, it’s only recently entered into mainstream use. People who take the drug report that it makes them feel joyful, open and upbeat. This is likely why it’s become popular at dance parties, concerts and festivals. People say molly makes them feel as though they need to have physical contact with others. The drug can also cause users to experience mild hallucinations.

Molly’s Effect On Brain Chemicals

As a drug, molly works as both a stimulant and a psychedelic. It boosts the levels of three brain chemicals linked to mood: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Molly also releases oxytocin, a chemical that creates feelings of intimacy. Oxytocin is normally released into the body after sex or childbirth. This explains why users report the need to touch others while they’re under the drug’s influence.

Pure Or Not – Molly Is Dangerous

Molly is a crystal or powder form of Ecstasy, or MDMA. The club drug is typically manufactured by dealers using home kitchens or labs. The problem is that while dealers and users refer to it as pure MDMA, researchers say that any single hit might be mixed with other drugs, like meth or bath salts, or chemicals such as baking soda. Regardless of whether the drug is pure or mixed with other substances, it can have dangerous consequences that make addiction treatment necessary.

Consequences of Taking Molly Molly produces a range of side effects. Some side effects, like exhaustion and dehydration, are mild; others, however, are more serious. For example, the surge of serotonin it produces depletes the brain of this critical neurotransmitter.  As a result, when the high wears off, users often experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression and sleep problems. These symptoms can last for days or weeks afterward.

Molly users are also at risk for medical emergencies. The drug can cause the body to severely overheat, resulting in potentially fatal damage to the brain. In addition, the synthetic drug can trigger a severe drop in blood sodium levels, which may lead to brain swelling and fatal seizures. Reports from emergency room officials reflect the drug’s growing popularity. ER visits related to molly use skyrocketed 123% between 2004 and 2009, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

Health officials are still trying to pinpoint the exact role molly played in recent deaths. The deaths could be tied to one of the drug’s inherent consequences, or they might be linked to a batch that was potentially mixed with another drug, like meth.

Furthermore, another side effect creates cause for concern. Because the club drug generates a strong desire to be physically close to others, it has the potential to lead to unsafe sex. Under its influence, a molly user is more likely to engage in risky behaviors that lead to sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV, or sexual assault.

The Problem Of Molly And Pop Culture

Despite its dangers, molly is glamorized in some arenas of pop culture. Singer Miley Cyrus included a reference to the party drug in her recent release “We Can’t Stop”. Another entertainer, Kanye West, has also released a song with a lyric that reportedly refers to the drug. Madonna has referred to the club drug during live shows as well. This kind of glorification may influence a teen’s or young adult’s decision to try molly.

Molly And Addiction

This form of Ecstasy is an addictive drug with the potential to create psychological dependence. One of the difficulties with pinpointing a molly addiction is that it can be hard for a parent, educator, or law enforcement official to tell when someone is using the drug. There is no telltale odor, as with marijuana; nor does its use require special equipment, like needles.

Some signs you should be alert for include:

* New or worsening depression or anxiety

* Sweating or chills

* Jaw clenching or teeth grinding

* Sudden loss of appetite

* Sleep troubles

* Increase in sexual activity

* Blurred vision

If you suspect that your or a loved one has developed an addiction to molly, reach out for help.

Molly Addiction Treatment

Detoxification (detox) is the first step toward recovery. If needed, a treatment center medical team will monitor you or your loved one to ensure the drug is safely eliminated from the body. Once detox is complete, the real work of treatment begins. Molly users will go through a range of therapies designed to help them stay drug free. Talk therapy is used to examine thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to use. You or your loved one will also learn how to change your thinking and learn healthy ways to cope with the negative emotions that can lead to molly abuse.

A teen user might take part in family counseling, which typically has two primary goals. The first is to identify and resolve conflicts that may have played a role in the teen’s drug use. A second goal is to teach family members how to work with the drug user to prevent relapse.

Aftercare is critical, especially for teen and young adult users who are often heavily influenced by the behavior of their peers.  Speak with the treatment center about options that help you or your young person stay drug free after the initial rehab course is completed.

Molly is not a safe drug. If you or a loved one is abusing molly, seek addiction treatment now. The next hit could be the one that generates devastating and lasting effects.

Source:   Addictiontreatmentmagazine.com in Synthetic Drugs  7th October 2013

Otherwise known as pink ecstasy, paramethoxyamphetamine has been linked to a spate of recent deaths of young people

PMA is already a class-A drug in the UK.  Last week, an inquest into the death of Travis Barber, a 19-year-old gym instructor from Salford Greater Manchester, highlighted the danger of a drug called PMA. Then, at the weekend, another teenager – 15-year-old Martha Fernback – died in Oxford. Although it is far too early to say what caused Fernback’s death, police have said that she took a drug she believed to be ecstasy. But, according to reports, her friends have said that it was PMA. A number of other recent deaths have been linked to the drug, including those of seven young people in Scotland in the last few months. As a recent piece on PMA in the dance music publication Mixmag put it: “This is not just another drug scare story.”

PMA is already a class-A drug; but is it much more dangerous than other illegal substances? “If you compare it to MDMA-related deaths, far fewer people are taking PMA, and there does seem to be the suspicion that people are disproportionately affected,” says Harry Sumnall, professor in substance use at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.

PMA – the common name for paramethoxyamphetamine – is usually sold in pill form, sometimes stamped with a crown, or M and sometimes pink (hence the nickname “pink ecstasy”). People who take PMA often believe they are taking ecstasy. The drug’s effects are similar but they can take up to an hour to be felt, so users may take another pill in the mistaken belief that the first has not worked, resulting in a massive dose.

“PMA is a potent releaser of serotonin,” says Sumnall. “It also prevents the reuptake of serotonin back into neurons and inhibits the enzymes which are responsible for the breakdown of serotonin. This increase in serotonin, especially when PMA is taken in combination with other drugs, can lead to hyperthermia and subsequently, organ failure. Basically people are overheating and collapsing.”

PMA is believed to have been first identified in the United States in the early 1970s. The drug soon became controlled and, says Sumnall, “pretty much disappeared. It then reappeared in the mid-1990s in Australia and there were a few deaths associated with it, then it disappeared again. Now it seems to have reappeared in northern Europe, but particularly in the UK.”

Sumnall adds that other countries, such as the Netherlands, are not reporting deaths associated with PMA. “The Dutch have localised drug testing. Perhaps the distributors think the UK market is less discriminatory.” In Britain, he says, “we don’t have an effective, localised early-warning system that predicts the arrival of these sorts of drugs. Most of the warnings come after someone has died, which is too late. We don’t allow localised tablet testing, where users can identify harmful tablets. It’s difficult to know, without a major change in the law, how we’re going to implement an effective response to drugs such as PMA.”

Source:  www.guardian.co.uk  22nd July 2013

Research has suggested that people who use ecstasy develop significant memory problems, so the Dutch researchers wanted to find out if there was any clinical evidence of structural changes in the brain to back this up.

They focused on the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for long term memory. They measured the volume of the hippocampus using MRI scans in 10 young men in their mid 20s who were long term users of ecstasy and seven of their healthy peers in their early 20s with no history of ecstasy use.

Although the ecstasy group had used more amphetamine and cocaine than their peers, both sets of young men had used similar amounts of recreational drugs, bar ecstasy, and drank alcohol regularly. The ecstasy group had not been using on average for more than two months before the start of the study, but had taken an average of 281 ecstasy tablets over the preceding six and a half years.

The MRI scans showed that hippocampal volume in this group was 10.5% smaller than that of their peers, and the overall proportion of grey matter was on average 4.6% lower, after adjusting for total brain volume.

This indicates that the effects of ecstasy may not be restricted to the hippocampus alone, say the authors”Taken together, these data provide preliminary evidence suggesting that ecstasy users may be prone to incurring hippocampal damage, following chronic use of this drug,” they write.

They add that their findings echo those of other researchers who have reported acute swelling and subsequent atrophy of hippocampal tissue in long term ecstasy users. And they point out: “Hippocampal atrophy is a hallmark for diseases of progressive cognitive impairment in older patients, such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry Apr. 20 11

 

Fans enjoy Madeon’s set at last year’s Ultra Music Festival. Starting Friday, Ultra Music Festival is expected to attract more than 160,000 young people from across the world to party with hundreds of international DJs and music artists. This year, it’s attracting something else: Molly.

Molly is a party drug that is a derivative of Ecstasy, which has fuelled dance parties for decades. It appeared on the dance-music and hip-hop scenes around early 2011 — billed as pure MDMA, the amphetamine that is the prime ingredient of Ecstasy. It comes as crystals or as a white powder inside a capsule and can cause high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, possible brain injury and even heart attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts after the drug is out of the body, especially if the user has an underlying mental illness.

“They tend to have a psychiatric phenomenon,” Bernstein said. “That seems to be a phenomenon that we are seeing with the bath salts that we don’t see as much with amphetamines or methamphetamines.” Mick Elle, 37, a musician and former DJ raised in Miami, had a three-month depression that he blames on Molly. “What I hate about Molly is I had a hangover of two or three weeks. Took me three months to recover,” Elle said. “It’s such a blowup. But when you go up, eventually you will have to go down.”

The Florida Poison Information Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital received its first calls related to Molly in 2011. From 2011 to 2012, the number of calls more than doubled, from eight to 20 calls. Katie Victoria, 27, a student at Broward College, first heard about Molly when she moved to Miami four years ago from Maryland. “Before I moved to Miami, I never had heard of such a term,” Victoria said. “I don’t think anywhere else in the United States it’s as popular as here.” But as popular as it may be, Molly is not a high law enforcement priority because it is not nearly as prevalent as cocaine and marijuana and leads to far less street violence, said Lt. Dan Kerr, commander of the Crime Suppression Unit of the Miami Police Department.

That changes during Ultra. “Ultra is really when we work the buys,” Kerr said. “That’s when big shipments come in.” Victoria went to Ultra in 2010 and doesn’t plan to go again. “A lot of the 18-year-old kids cannot even buy alcohol, so obviously what they are doing is Molly,” said Victoria. She reported seeing partiers take 10 pills in one Ultra night. “You really think they’re gonna do one Molly and that’s it? No, because kids are not that responsible,” she said. “They don’t think about their health that way.”

A spokesman for Ultra said no one was available to comment, as they were too busy preparing for the event. The festival’s policy, listed on its website, says the possession of any illegal substance is not tolerated. Security is extremely tight and all bags are searched at the gate. Jose Gutierrez, 24, an events promoter in Miami who has been going to Ultra for five years, said everyone is on drugs. “If they are not on drugs, they are not having fun,” said Gutierrez, who says he has taken Molly at Ultra since 2010. “You feel the music in your body. It’s like tickling in the inside and that’s what makes you smile,” he said. “You smile and you don’t stop dancing.”

By the end of an Ultra weekend as many as 50 people might overdose and need medical treatment after taking Molly and other drugs, Kerr said. The Miami Police Department’s Special Events unit, which will coordinate the officers that will staff the event, have met with local merchants and residents about possible route changes during the event.

Documented health effects aside, Molly is popular in the music world. Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne and 2 Chainz have referenced the drug in their lyrics. Madonna used her Molly remark to release MDNA, her 12th studio album, at last year’s Ultra — wearing its controversial title emblazoned on a T-shirt at the festival. And Miami-based international DJ Cedric Gervais, 33, released a single in April 2012 called Molly. “It’s about a girl because I was looking for this girl called Molly,” said Gervais, a resident at the Fontainebleau Hotel club LIV. “The crowd is thinking MDMA, that’s the controversy of it.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/12/v-print/3281778/police-expect-club-drug-molly.html#storylink=cpy


Source: Posted on Tue, Mar. 12, 2013 South Florida News Service

 

 

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health,Synthetics :

Recreational use of the club drug Ecstasy could cause memory problems, new research finds.

The research is the first study of Ecstasy users before they begin to use the drug regularly, which helps rule out alternative causes for the memory loss, said study leader Daniel Wagner, a psychologist at the University of Cologne in Germany.

“By measuring the cognitive function of people with no history of Ecstasy use and, one year later, identifying those who had used Ecstasy at least 10 times and re-measuring their performance, we have been able to start isolating the precise cognitive effects of this drug,” Wagner told LiveScience.

Ecstasy, or MDMA (shorthand for its tongue-twister of a chemical name, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a popular drug often taken at raves or techno clubs. In Europe, researchers estimate that about 5.6 percent of 15- to 34-year-olds have used the drug at some point. In the United States, about 5.7 percent of people have used Ecstasy at some point, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse .

The effects of the drug have been tough to pin down, however. Animal studies suggest that MDMA degrades the ends of brain cells that use the neurotransmitter serotonin to communicate. Studies in humans have hinted that Ecstasy use can harm memory and learning, but that research has been plagued with confounding variables such as other drug use or pre-existing differences between Ecstasy users and nonusers.

In 2009, the debate over Ecstasy’s effects claimed the job of David Nutt, a psychologist who once chaired the U.K. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The British government fired Nutt from that position after he said that LSD, cannabis and Ecstasy were not as harmful as other drugs, including alcohol.

Wagner and his colleagues focused their study on new users of Ecstasy. To qualify, people had to have some experience with the drug — making it more likely that they’d use it in the future — but could not have taken more than five pills in their lifetimes.

Of 149 participants who qualified, 109 returned 12 months later for a series of psychological tests, many focusing on memory. Of these, 43 participants used no other drugs other than MDMA and marijuana (there are very few Ecstasy users who don’t also use marijuana, the researchers wrote), and 23 had used more than 10 pills in the past year. It was this group that the researchers compared with nonusers.

Memory and Ecstasy

Among Ecstasy users, the researchers found a deterioration in a memory task called paired associates learning, in which people memorize pairs of words or objects so that the presentation of one triggers the recall of the other. None of the other cognitive tasks showed significant differences between users and nonusers, Wagner said. The specificity of the deficit suggests damage to the hippocampus, he said, the part of the brain that is crucial for memory formation and recall”Whether the impairments are permanent or reversible has yet to be investigated,” Wagner said.

The impact of the findings on future drug policy is also unclear.

“Given the specific memory impairments, our findings may raise concerns in regard to MDMA use, even in recreational amounts over a relatively short time period,” Wagner said. “On the other hand, we did not find any impairment on other cognitive domains, and we didn’t focus on other relevant domains like psychopathology or social problems.”

The researchers, who detail their findings online today (July 25) in the journal Addiction, plan a two-year follow-up study to investigate other effects of the drug.

Source: www.myhealthnewsdaily;26th July 2012

It was the party drug of the 90s. But alarmingly Ecstasy’s popularity seems to be rising again. A worrying trend is re-emerging for the illegal substance after U.S. hospital admissions involving Ecstasy leapt 74.8 per cent in just four years, according to a national study.
Most of the Ecstasy-related hospital visits involved patients aged 18 to 29, but notably 17.9 per cent involved children as young as 12
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study indicated the number of hospital emergency visits involving Ecstasy increased from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 visits in 2008.
Slightly more than half (52.8 per cent) of the emergency visits were male, the study found. More than a third of the Ecstasy-related visits were made in the South (34.0 per cent) while nearly a third were in the West (31.4 per cent).
Nearly a fifth were made in the Midwest (18.5 per cent), and nearly a sixth were made in the Northeast (16.1 per cent).
But in another alarming trend the study also found that 77.8 per cent of these visits – almost 8 in 10 cases – also involved the use of at least one of more other substances alongside Ecstasy.  The most common drugs used in combination with Ecstasy are marijuana, alcohol and cocaine. In cases where patients were 21 or older 39.7 per cent had taken Ecstasy with three or more other drugs. ‘The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,’ said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S Hyde, J D.

The drug induces feelings of euphoria but can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, hypertension and even hypothermia. The variety and severity of these can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances.
Dr Peter Delany, director of the Centre for Behavioural Health Statistics and Qualities at SAMHSA, said the agency ‘needed to start digging’ to find the cause of the spike in admissions. ‘Kids are getting it (Ecstasy) at raves and parties, which may indicate a return to social gatherings,’ he said. ‘It is also probably a very cheap drug,’ he added.
‘The largest group of people (doing Ecstasy) are 18 to 29. These are people who have a lot more freedom and a lot more money,’ he said. He also cited the need for prevention education to continue well into adulthood to address this age group.
The more pressing issue, Dr Delany said was the people who were admitted to hospital with more than one substance in their system. ‘Ignorance is part of it,’ he said. ‘There is a lot of risk taking in that age group. ‘This (Ecstasy) is not a safe drug. The first time out of the door can have some serious side effects. When you are mixing it with multiple drugs you don’t know what the reaction will be. Everyone is different,’ he said.
Dr Delany also cited so-called ‘pharm’ or ‘trail mixing’ parties, when young people put a collection of drugs into a bowl and it becomes a very dangerous lucky dip.
But these bowls don’t just contain illegal drugs, they also contain prescription drugs raided from parents’ medical cabinets. Another report by SAMHSA found there has also been a dramatic rise in emergency visits associated with the misuse of prescription drugs.
From 2004 to 2008 these rose from 144,644 visits to 305,885 visits a year and occurred among men and women, as well as among those younger than age 21 and those 21 and older.
The three prescription opioid pain relievers most frequently involved were Oxycodone products (rose 152 percent), Hydrocodone products (rose 123 per cent) and Methadone products (rose 73 per cent).
‘These alarming findings provide one more example of how the misuse of prescription pain relievers is impacting lives and our health care system,’ said SAMHSA administrator Pamela S Hyde. ‘This public health threat requires an all-out effort to raise awareness of the public about proper use, storage, and disposal of these powerful drugs.’

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk 25th March 2011

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health,Youth :

Dutch researchers find that the hippocampus of long-term ecstasy users is 10.5% smaller than peers who don’t use drugs.
Dutch researchers found that long-term ecstasy users had an increased risk of hippocampal damage, which can contribute to the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s.
Long-term Ecstasy users risk brain damage, memory loss and an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.
Dutch researchers used MRI scans to study the brains of 10 men in their mid-20s who had taken an average of 281 ecstasy tablets over the previous six and a half years, and seven peers who had taken other drugs.
They found that the hippocampus – the part of the brain controlling memory – was 10.5% smaller among the ecstasy users, and their overall grey matter 4.6% less.
“These data provide preliminary evidence that Ecstasy users may be prone to incurring hippocampal damage”, and may help explain the memory loss witnessed among such people in previous studies, the co-authors wrote in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
“Hippocampal atrophy is a hallmark for disease of progressive cognitive impairment in older patients, such as Alzheimer’s disease”, they added.
Professor David Nutt, the government’s former lead adviser on drugs misuse, said, however, that the “interesting pilot study … is underpowered to provide definitive evidence of an effect of ecstasy”. Evidence suggests that many drugs, including alcohol, can damage someone’s memory, Nutt added.

Source: guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 6 April 2011

Levels of the serotonin transporter are low in the brains of users of ecstasy, according to a US National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded study by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) published today in the journal Brain.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is a stimulant drug widely used recreationally that is also being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Led by Dr. Stephen Kish at CAMH, this study provides confirmation of a previous finding from Johns Hopkins University that levels of the serotonin transporter (SERT) are low in cerebral cortex of chronic ecstasy users. The subjects were “typical” ecstasy users who used about two tablets of the drug twice a month.

SERT is a protein responsible for regulating levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for mood and impulse control. Ecstasy interacts with SERT to cause the release of serotonin, an action that probably explains some of the behavioral effects of the drug such as increased sociability.

Scientists have long suspected that ecstasy might harm brain cells that use serotonin, but 12 years of brain scan studies have produced contradictory results, even within the same laboratory.
The CAMH study used a large subject size (49 drug users, 50 control subjects), confirmed by hair analysis that ecstasy users actually used the drug, and used an imaging probe that could measure SERT throughout the brain.
“We were surprised to discover that SERT was decreased only in the cerebral cortex and not throughout the brain, perhaps because serotonin nerves to the cortex are longer and more susceptible to changes. This finding is almost identical to newer data from Johns Hopkins and is the first time that one laboratory has actually been able to replicate results of another independent laboratory in a SERT study of ecstasy users.” said Dr. Kish.

Drug hair analysis indicated that many ecstasy users, probably unknowingly, also used methamphetamine, which might itself damage serotonin cells; however, low SERT was found both in ecstasy users who used and who did not use methamphetamine. Dr. Jason Lerch at SickKids showed that those ecstasy users who also used methamphetamine had a slightly thinner cerebral cortex.

Does low SERT equal “structural brain damage”? “Not necessarily” said co-author Dr. Isabelle Boileau of CAMH. “There is no way to prove whether low SERT is explained by physical loss of the entire serotonin nerve cell, or by a loss of SERT protein within an intact nerve cell.”
Dr. Kish suggests that low SERT might explain why many ecstasy users need to keep increasing the dose to experience the same effects, since SERT is necessary for the action of ecstasy. “Most of the ecstasy users of our study complained that the first dose is always the best, but then the effects begin to decline and higher doses are needed. The need for higher doses, possibly caused by low SERT, could well increase the risk of harm caused by this stimulant drug,” said Dr. Kish.

Media Contact: Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH ; 416 595 6015 or email media@camh.net

Source: www.camh.net 18th May 2010


Levels of the serotonin transporter are low in the brains of users of ecstasy, according to a US National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded study by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) published today in the journal Brain.
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a stimulant drug widely used recreationally that is also being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Led by Dr. Stephen Kish at CAMH, this study provides confirmation of a previous finding from Johns Hopkins University that levels of the serotonin transporter (SERT) are low in cerebral cortex of chronic ecstasy users. The subjects were “typical” ecstasy users who used about two tablets of the drug twice a month.
SERT is a protein responsible for regulating levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for mood and impulse control. Ecstasy interacts with SERT to cause the release of serotonin, an action that probably explains some of the behavioral effects of the drug such as increased sociability.
Scientists have long suspected that ecstasy might harm brain cells that use serotonin, but 12 years of brain scan studies have produced contradictory results, even within the same laboratory.
The CAMH study used a large subject size (49 drug users, 50 control subjects), confirmed by hair analysis that ecstasy users actually used the drug, and used an imaging probe that could measure SERT throughout the brain.
“We were surprised to discover that SERT was decreased only in the cerebral cortex and not throughout the brain, perhaps because serotonin nerves to the cortex are longer and more susceptible to changes. This finding is almost identical to newer data from Johns Hopkins and is the first time that one laboratory has actually been able to replicate results of another independent laboratory in a SERT study of ecstasy users.” said Dr. Kish.
Drug hair analysis indicated that many ecstasy users, probably unknowingly, also used methamphetamine, which might itself damage serotonin cells; however, low SERT was found both in ecstasy users who used and who did not use methamphetamine. Dr. Jason Lerch at SickKids showed that those ecstasy users who also used methamphetamine had a slightly thinner cerebral cortex.
Does low SERT equal “structural brain damage”? “Not necessarily” said co-author Dr. Isabelle Boileau of CAMH. “There is no way to prove whether low SERT is explained by physical loss of the entire serotonin nerve cell, or by a loss of SERT protein within an intact nerve cell.”
Dr. Kish suggests that low SERT might explain why many ecstasy users need to keep increasing the dose to experience the same effects, since SERT is necessary for the action of ecstasy. “Most of the ecstasy users of our study complained that the first dose is always the best, but then the effects begin to decline and higher doses are needed. The need for higher doses, possibly caused by low SERT, could well increase the risk of harm caused by this stimulant drug,” said Dr. Kish.
Media Contact: Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH ; 416 595 6015 or email media@camh.net

Source: www.camh.net 18th May 2010-30-


By Jane Kirby, PA Health Correspondent
Published: 25 June 2007

The dance drug ecstasy significantly affects both long and short-term memory, according to analysis published today.

Researchers found verbal, not visual, memory was most affected by the drug, which sells in British clubs for as little as a few pounds per tablet.

Studies have previously noted ecstasy affects memory but the new research examined 26 studies involving 600 users.

Experts from the University of Hertfordshire found the number of tablets taken over a lifetime had little effect on the results.

The average number of tablets taken by people in the study was 327, with a range of 16 to 902.

Professor Keith Laws and Joy Kokkalis, from the University’s School of Psychology, led the study, which will be published in the journal Human
Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental.

They found ecstasy had a medium to large effect on impairing short and long-term memory.

In more than three-quarters of ecstasy users, long and short-term verbal memory was below the average of those who had not used the drug.

Dr Laws said: “To summarise, this meta-analysis confirms that ecstasy users show significantly impaired short-term and long-term memory when compared with non-ecstasy users.

“The ecstasy users also displayed significantly worse verbal than visual memory.

“Indeed, their visual memory was relatively normal and seems to be affected more by concurrent cannabis use.”

Ecstasy is a class A drug used by an estimated 500,000 people in the UK.

Studies have shown long-term or heavy ecstasy use can damage neurons in the brain and cause depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

One study published last year by researchers in Amsterdam found even short-term light use could damage blood flow to the brain.

Source:http://news.independent.co.uk/health/article2705536.eceJune 2007

Have you ever forgotten to post an important letter or let an appointment slip your mind? A new study from UK researchers suggests that for those who regularly use ecstasy or other recreational drugs, this kind of memory lapse is more common. Their research, which uncovered potential links between memory deficits and cocaine for the first time, appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.

Florentia Hadjiefthyvoulou, John Fisk, and Nikola Bridges from the University of Central Lancashire and Catharine Montgomery from Liverpool John Moores University wanted to delve deeper into the link between deficits in prospective memory (remembering to remember, or remembering to perform an intended action) and drug use.

The new research into prospective memory expands on previous studies, which have shown that ecstasy or polydrug users are impaired in performing a number of cognitive tasks, including verbal and spatial exercises. A team led by Fisk also published evidence in 2005 that those using ecstasy perform worse in deductive reasoning, too. Prospective memory tasks can be either time or event based, which means that the external trigger to remember could be in response to an event, or because it is time to do something. The distinction is important because these memory tasks use somewhat different brain processes.

The researchers recruited 42 ecstasy/polydrug users (14 males, 28 females) and 31 non-users (5 males, 26 females) for the study – all were students. The students were quizzed about their drug habits (including tobacco, cannabis and alcohol), and given questionnaires to assess their everyday memory, cognitive failures and prospective and retrospective memory. They were then given a number of lab-based memory tests, including some that required students to remember something several weeks later. The results showed that recreational drugs such as ecstasy, or the regular use of several drugs, affect users’ memory functions, even when tests are controlled for cannabis, tobacco or alcohol use. According to Fisk, memory deficits were evident in both lab-based and self-reported measurements of subjects’ prospective memory.

The results also suggested that ecstasy/polydrug users “possess some self awareness of their memory lapses.”
The authors say that although ecstasy/polydrug users as a whole are aware of their memory problems they may be uncertain as to which illicit drug is behind the defects they perceive. “The present results suggest that these deficits are likely to be real rather than imagined and are evident in both time- and event-based prospective memory contexts,” Fisk says.

Source: www.cadca.org l8 March 2010

Researchers have discovered that even a small amount of MDMA, better known as ecstasy, can be harmful to the brain, according to the first study to look at the neurotoxic effects of low doses of the recreational drug in new ecstasy users. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

“We found a decrease in blood circulation in some areas of the brain in young adults who just started to use ecstasy,” said Maartje de Win, M.D., radiology resident at the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “In addition, we found a relative decrease in verbal memory performance in ecstasy users compared to non-users.”
Ecstasy is an illegal drug that acts as a stimulant and psychedelic. A 2004 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 450,000 people in the United States age 12 and over had used ecstasy in the past 30 days. In 2005, NIDA estimated that 5.4 percent of all American 12th graders had taken the drug at least once.
Ecstasy targets neurons in the brain that use the chemical serotonin to communicate. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating a number of mental processes including mood and memory.
Research has shown that long-term or heavy ecstasy use can damage these neurons and cause depression, anxiety, confusion, difficulty sleeping and decrease in memory. However, no previous studies have looked at the effects of low doses of the drug on first-time users.
Dr. de Win and colleagues examined 188 volunteers with no history of ecstasy use but at high-risk for first-time ecstasy use in the near future. The examinations included neuroimaging techniques to measure the integrity of cells and blood flow in different areas of the brain and various psychological tests. After 18 months, 59 first-time ecstasy users who had taken six tablets on average and 56 non-users were re-examined with the same techniques and tests.
The study found that low doses of ecstasy did not severely damage the serotonergic neurons or affect mood. However, there were indications of subtle changes in cell architecture and decreased blood flow in some brain regions, suggesting prolonged effects from the drug, including some cell damage. In addition, the results showed a decrease in verbal memory performance among low-dose ecstasy users compared to non-users.
“We do not know if these effects are transient or permanent,” Dr. de Win said. “Therefore, we cannot conclude that ecstasy, even in small doses, is safe for the brain, and people should be informed of this risk.”
This research is part of the Netherlands XTC Toxicity (NeXT) study, which also looks at high-dose ecstasy users and aims to provide information on long-term effects of ecstasy use in the general population.

Source: Radiological Society of North America (2006, November 28).


Abstract
The impact of ecstasy/polydrug use on real-world memory (i.e. everyday memory, cognitive failures and prospective memory [PM]) was investigated in a
sample of 42 ecstasy/polydrug users and 31 non-ecstasy users. Laboratory-based PM tasks were administered along with self-reported measures of PM to
test whether any ecstasy/polydrug-related impairment on the different aspects of PM was present. Self-reported measures of everyday memory and
cognitive failures were also administered. Ecstasy/polydrug associated deficits were observed on both laboratory and self-reported measures of PM and
everyday memory. The present study extends previous research by demonstrating that deficits in PM are real and cannot be simply attributed to
self-misperceptions. The deficits observed reflect some general capacity underpinning both time- and event-based PM contexts and are not task
specific. Among this group of ecstasy/polydrug users recreational use of cocaine was also prominently associated with PM deficits. Further research
might explore the differential effects of individual illicit drugs on real-world memory.

Source: Journal of Psychopharmacology 0(00) 1–12 2010

What do suffering a traumatic brain injury and using club drugs have in common? University of Florida researchers say both may trigger a similar chemical chain reaction in the brain, leading to cell death, memory loss and potentially
irreversible brain damage.

A series of studies at UF over the past five years has shown using the
popular club drug Ecstasy, also called MDMA, and other forms of
methamphetamine lead to the same type of brain changes, cell loss and
protein fluctuations in the brain that occur after a person endures a
sharp blow to the head, according to recent findings.

“Using methamphetamine is like inflicting a traumatic brain injury on
yourself,” said Firas Kobeissy, a postdoctoral associate in the College
of Medicine department of psychiatry. “We found that a lot of brain
cells are being injured by these drugs. That’s alarming to society now.
People don’t seem to take club drugs as seriously as drugs such as
heroin or cocaine.”

Working with UF researchers Dr. Mark Gold, chief of the division of
addiction medicine at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute and one of the
country’s leading experts on addiction medicine, and Kevin Wang,
director of the UF Center for Neuroproteomics and Biomarkers Research,
Kobeissy compared what happened in the brains of rats given large doses
of methamphetamine with what happened to those that had suffered a
traumatic brain injury.

The group’s research has already shown how traumatic brain injury
affects brain cells in rats. They found similar damage in the rats
exposed to methamphetamine. In the brain, club drugs set off a chain of
events that injures brain cells. The drugs seem to damage certain
proteins in the brain, which causes protein levels to fluctuate. When
proteins are damaged, brain cells could die. In addition, as some
proteins change under the influence of methamphetamine, they also begin
to cause inflammation in the brain, which can be deadly, Kobeissy said.

Kobeissy and other researchers in Gold’s lab are using novel protein
analysis methods to understand how drug abuse alters the brain. Looking
specifically at proteins in the rat cortex, UF researchers discovered
that about 12 percent of the proteins in this region of the brain showed
the same kinds of changes after either methamphetamine use or traumatic
brain injury. There are about 30,000 proteins in the brain so such a
significant parallel indicates that a similar mechanism is at work after
both traumatic brain injury and methamphetamine abuse, Kobeissy said.

“Sometimes people go to the clubs and take three tablets of Ecstasy or
speed,” Kobeissy said. “That may be a toxic dose for them. Toxic effects
can be seen for methamphetamine, Ecstasy and traumatic injury in
different areas of the brain.”

About 1.3 million people over the age of 12 reported using
methamphetamine in the previous month, according to the 2006 National
Survey on Drug Use and Health. In 2004, more than 12 million Americans
reported having tried the drug, the survey’s findings show.

People often think the effects of drugs of abuse wear off in the body
the same way common medications do, but that may not be the case, Gold
said.

“These data and the previous four years of data suggest some drugs,
especially methamphetamine, cause changes that are not readily
reversible,” Gold said. “Future research is necessary for us to
determine when or if methamphetamine-related brain changes reverse
themselves.”

Gold and Dennis Steindler, director of UF’s McKnight Brain Institute and
an expert on stem cells, are planning studies to find out if stem cells
can be applied to repair drug-related brain damage.

UF researchers are also trying to uncover all the various ways drugs
damage and kill brain cells. During their protein analysis, researchers
discovered that oxidation was damaging some proteins, throwing the
molecules chemically off balance.

“When proteins are oxidized they are not functional,” Kobeissy said.
“When proteins are not working, the cell cannot function.”

Neurologist Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, chief of the molecular neuropsychiatry
branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said analyzing proteins
is important to understanding how drugs such as methamphetamine affect
the brain.

“I think saying the results of methamphetamine abuse are comparable to
the results of a traumatic brain injury is a new idea,” Cadet said. “I
agree with (the findings). Our own work shows that methamphetamine is
pretty toxic to the brains of animals. In humans, imaging studies of
patients who use methamphetamine chronically show abnormalities in the
brain.

“Abuse of methamphetamine is very dangerous.”

This research was presented at a Society for Neuroscience conference
held recently in San Diego.

Source: Science Daily (Nov. 29, 2007)

Research Summary
Ecstasy is a stimulant like various classes of amphetamines, but the popular club drug is more likely to kill young and otherwise healthy users, Reuters reported Jan. 29.
U.K. researchers who studied ecstasy and amphetamine related deaths found that ecstasy-related deaths were more common among “victims who were young, healthy, and less likely to be known as drug users.”
Study author Fabrizio Schifano of the University of Hertfordshire said that ecstasy seemed to have a higher “intrinsic toxicity,” particularly among users ages 16-24. Schifano speculated that the deaths could be related to the fact that adolescents’ brains are still developing.

Source: www.jointogether.org Feb 3 2010 published in Neuropsychobiology.


Research Summary
Human brain cells can be altered and damaged by low doses of ecstasy, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain, researchers say.
Bloomberg News reported Nov. 27 that a new study finds that even first-time users of ecstasy experience a decrease in verbal memory, and that taking just a few doses of the drug causes brain changes that can be seen 18 months after first use.
“We don’t know if it’s reversible or permanent,” said researcher Maartje de Win of the University of Amsterdam, who presented the findings at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America this week. “People should know there might be some consequences for them even after incidental use.”
The study included brain scans of 188 young adults considered at risk of ecstasy use; initial scans were taken before any of the group had used the drug. When follow-up scans were taken 18 months later, 64 members of the group had tried ecstasy; 59 of these were reexamined by researchers, as well as 56 members of the group who had not used the drug.
Source: www.jointogether.org Nov.2006

Doctors and drug workers in Bristol have established a link between the use of Class C drug ketamine and severe bladder and kidney problems.
A BBC investigation for Inside Out West found a rising number of ketamine users in their teens and 20s were admitted to Southmead Hospital over the past year.
Many had to undergo operations – two even needed their bladders removing. Doctors at the hospital conducted further research and discovered a similar pattern across the UK.  Ketamine is a short-acting but powerful general anaesthetic which depresses the nervous system and causes a temporary loss of body sensation.
Kidney pains
In the early 1990s the drug started becoming popular on the UK club scene as people bought it in the mistaken belief it was ecstasy. It was made illegal in January 2006 when the government classified it as a Class C drug.
 
 
The drug comes in various forms, most commonly as a powder, but also as a liquid and a tablet.   The British Crime Survey for 2008 revealed its use was up 10% on the previous year.
The BBC researchers found many users were unaware of the long-term effects of the drug on their health.  Symptoms include pains in the stomach and kidneys, wanting to go to the toilet all the time, often getting up in the night as many as 30 times, and finding the process agonising.
‘Physically shrivelled’
During 2008 the Bristol Drugs Project said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of ketamine users asking for help.   One anonymous user, who is now waiting for bladder reconstruction surgery, told a BBC researcher: “Doctors told me the capacity of my bladder had shrunk.
“It was actually physically shrivelled and scarred, there was an awful lot of scar tissue.  “A lot of the muscle around the outside, which obviously helps your bladder contract and which is what makes you go, a lot of that had been eaten away by the ketamine.”   The programme found there are other similar cases on waiting lists in Bristol. Operations have also been carried out in London and Liverpool.
David Gillatt, a consultant urologist at Southmead Hospital, said: “This is a worrying development as major bladder operations, such as the ones they’re now carrying out, are normally performed on a much older age group.  “We have got cases who’ve had to go as far as major surgery to remove the bladder and that’s a fairly big step.  “These people are often in their teens through to 20s, maybe 30s at the oldest, and that’s something they’ll have to live with for the rest of their days.” Professor David Nutt, who chairs the government’s drug advisory panel, is being kept regularly updated on the latest developments in the research in Bristol.
 Source:  BBC News Channel  4th Feb.2009

University of Adelaide Associate Professor of Pharmacology Rod Irvine said the drug could lead to a generation gripped by early onset of serotonin-depletion diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“One big exposure” to MDMA could be enough to damage the brain permanently  “You probably don’t necessarily have to (be a user) for a very long period of time,” Professor Irvine said.   He said the liver struggled to excrete MDMA from the body after as little as one pill. “So the concentration goes much higher than you expect,” he said.
Brain neurons emitting serotonin, the neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood and memory, are attacked and disabled.   Memory and cognitive harm, and depression – referred to as “Eccie Monday” or “Suicide Tuesday” – were commonly reported by weekend ecstasy users.
“But in the US, tests on monkeys who have been exposed (to ecstasy) and then left drug-free for years . . . when you examine their brains, they’ve still got this loss of serotonin,” Professor Irvine said.  “Even if there is recovery (in the long-term), it’s very slow and the brain doesn’t make the same connections. So it’s unlikely that you’re going to have the same functionality as what you had before.”
According to the 2008 Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System, an average Queensland user is 24 and employed. One in every two has tertiary qualifications, and typically, two pills are “dropped” every fortnight.
While ecstasy does not appear to be highly addictive, a 32-year-old Brisbane caller to triplej radio earlier this month told of swallowing 15 pills one night.  “It took about two days until I came down properly,” he said.
He said that after 15 years of taking the drug, his “short-term memory was shot”.  “Another strange symptom after taking MDMA is . . . paralysis – you wake up mid-REM, hallucinate and hear things. You pretty much can’t move and panic.”

 Source: www.couriermail.com.au  30th March 2009

A new study released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) says that ecstasy use among teens has dropped 25 percent in the last two years, the Associated Press reported Feb. 25. 

According to the annual survey, teen ecstasy use dropped from 12 percent in 2001 to 9 percent in 2003. 

Despite the decline, Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the PDFA, said the drug is still a problem. 

“The ecstasy threat remains: Last year, 2 million teenagers in America had tried this drug,” Pasierb said. “We can and we must kick ecstasy while it’s down, and kick it down further.” 

The study also found a reduction in overall drug use by teens. Declines were seen in marijuana, LSD, and methamphetamine use. 

However, the study indicated areas of concern, including a growing use of inhalants and misuse of prescription drugs. 

The study was based on data collected from questionnaires completed anonymously by 7,270 adolescents nationwide between April and June 2003 

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free America survey. Reported by Associated Press. Feb. 25th 2004 
Filed under: Ecstasy,Youth :

The results of a new British study suggest the recreational drug  Ecstasy impairs memory and the ability to visually discern patterns,  researchers claimed yesterday.  Ecstasy users performed relatively poorly in the joint Cambridge  University-University of East London study, particularly on memory-related  tasks. Forty adults participated; 20 had taken an average of  170 Ecstasy tablets over four years and 20 had never taken it.  All participants had used various drugs in the past including  LSD, amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis.  ‘These findings of memory problems due to Ecstasy use should  raise concerns, particularly since the group studied were only  early-stage and not long-term users,’ says Dr Barbara Sahakian, reader in clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge.

These results add to a growing body of research that has demonstrated  the harmful effects of Ecstasy: the drug is known to affect cognition  and mood regulation, and recent evidence suggests it is a neurotoxin  at certain doses.  The study participants were tested on a series of CANTAB tasks  normally used to identify cognitive problems in patients with  dementia or neurological damage. The two groups performed equally  in a number of tasks, but Ecstasy users significant impairment  on several others. Most of these involved memory use, the research  team says.

 One of the study’s researchers at the University of East London, Dr Andy Parrot, has said about Ecstasy: ‘the more you use, the  more you suffer memory problems. One in five novice users suffer memory loss, while almost three-quarters of heavy users do. Depression  is another big problem; it is increased even in former moderate  users, he said.  According to a survey of 1000 clubbers undertaken by Britain’s  dance culture magazine Mixmag, regular Ecstasy users are 25% more likely to suffer a mental health disorder than the rest  of the population.  One in four regular Ecstasy users had potentially serious psychiatric  disorders, compared to the national average of less than one in five the survey reportedly showed. Published in January, the  survey was based on readers filling out questionnaires. Respondents  were also twice as likely to have seen a doctor about mental  health issues, with half of them concerned about depression.

Source: Author Dr. B. Sahakian. Published on www.scoop.co.nz, June 2002.

Exposure before birth to methamphetamine, an increasingly popular “club” drug, renders males, even as adults, much more susceptible to the drug’s brain—damaging effects, reveals a study performed in mice by researchers at the University of Chicago. If males who were prenatally exposed to methamphetamine take the drug themselves as teens or adults, the increased toxicity could hasten the onset of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. No one who values his or her brain should take this drug;” cautions neurotoxicologist Alfred Heller, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurobiology, pharmacology and physiology at the University of Chicago and director of the study. “If you’re male, and if your mother took methamphetamine and it’s difficult to be certain she didn’t  you should not go near this drug.” Methamphetamine also known as ‘meth’ or ‘chalk,’ or when smoked as ‘crystal,’ ‘crank’ or ‘ice’ is the world’s second most widely used illicit drug, according to the World Health Organization, and is rapidly gaining popularity. After claiming a foothold in the Southwest in the early 1990s, it has spread across much of the United States. “We now are seeing high levels of methamphetamine abuse in many areas of the Midwest,” notes an alert on the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) web site, “in both urban and rural settings, and by very diverse segments of the population.”

Cheap, long-lasting, easy to make, easy to take and perceived as relatively safe, this stimulant is widely used by young women because it elevates mood, boosts energy, suppresses appetite and helps with weight loss. Researchers have long known that methamphetamine has multiple side effects. It damages neurons that use the neurotransmitter dopamine to relay signals. Women who abuse the drug during pregnancy have increased risk of premature delivery. Their newborns are often unusually irritable. But because the drug has only recently become so popular, there is limited information about its long-term effects on users’ offspring. Last spring, recognition of  methamphetamine’s blossoming popularity among young women, and the uncertainty about its effects on an exposed fetus, provoked NIDA to call for research on how the drug affects brain development for those exposed in utero.

Heller’s group at the University of Chicago had already developed a mouse model of prenatal methamphetamine exposure. They determined the dose that exposed the mouse fetal brain to similar concentrations of methamphetamine as in human infants and then studied its effects on the exposed mice and their offspring. The key finding was that male mice who were exposed to the drug before birth and then exposed again as adults (at 11 weeks old), were significantly more vulnerable to methamphetamine’s neurotoxic effects. These males suffered damage to the dopamine-using neurons, particularly in areas of the brain known as the substantia nigra and the striatum, the system that is damaged in Parkinson’s disease. Why the effect was so much greater in males than females is unclear. It may be connected with the rise in body temperature associated with use of the drug. The amount of brain damage was closely associated with this increase in body temperature in exposed mice. Methamphetamine increases core temperatures more in males than in females.

The researchers also suggest that a likely mechanism for the increase in brain damage is that fetal exposure to methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine from adult brain cells by methamphetamine. When stimulated later in life by this drug, these preconditioned nerve cells release abnormal amounts of dopamine, which accumulates outside the cells, where it can be chemically altered or oxidized. Heat exacerbates this dopamine secretion, When the altered neurotransmitters are taken back up into these nerve cells, they can be toxic. In fact, drugs that block re-uptake can prevent this toxicity. The enhanced neurotoxicity in response to methamphetamine in male animals exposed in utero “may be an additional risk factor in the development of parkinsonism,” note the authors. “With age, the persistent damage to the dopaminergic system may predispose these individuals to brain disorders.” Although Parkinson’s disease doesn’t immediately appear in these animals, or in most human drug users, the drug may be setting the stage for early disease onset. People begin to exhibit symptoms, such as slowed movements, rigidity and tremors, only after losing more than 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra. “Regular methamphetamine users, or those at increased risk because of prenatal exposure, may have a head start on this process,” suggests Heller.

Source:Author professor A. Heller M.D. Univeristy of Chicago published in the
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. July 2001.

 High estrogen  levels make drug dangerous

Young women taking the synthetic drug ecstasy are much more likely to die than any other group, according to new research. The drug is more dangerous for women of reproductive age because of high levels of the female hormone estrogen in their bodies, said researchers at Kings College, London. ‘The way that young women, in particular, respond to ecstasy places them at risk, though these effects can apply to anyone who takes the drug,” neuroendocrinology professor Mary Forsling told the paper. “Ecstasy is especially dangerous because of the circumstances in which people take it,” Forsling was quoted as saying. “Dancing raises the body temperature, you drink a lot, your hormones tell your body to retain water,.you drink more. It is something of a vicious cycle,” she added. Known as MDMA, ecstasy is an illegal amphetamine-based drug that causes euphoric and mildly hallucinatory effects. As ecstasy is broken down within the body it produces another chemical, known as HMMA which causes the release of a hormone encouraging the body to drink. The resulting imbalance of sodium levels in the body can be fatal.

Source: Society of Endocrinology in London. Nov 2000.

A NIDA supported study has provided the first direct evidence that chronic use of MIDMA, popularly known as “ecstasy” causes brain damage in people. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the study found that MDMA harms neurons that cause serotonin, a brain chemical thought to play an important role in regulating memory and other functions. In a related study, researchers found that heavy MDMA users have memory problems that per for at least 2 weeks after they have stopped using the drug. Both studies suggest that the extent of damage is directly correlated with the amount of MDMA use. “The message from these studies is that MDMA does change the brain and it looks like there are functional consequences to these changes”, says Dr. Joseph Frascella of NIDA’s Division of Treatment Research and Development. That message is particularly significant for young people who participate in large, all-night dance parties known as “raves,” which are popular in many cities around the nation.

Findings from another Johns Hopkins/ NIMH study now suggest that MDMA use may lead to impairments in other cognitive functions besides memory, such as the ability to reason verbally or sustain attention. Researchers are continuing to examine the effects of chronic MDMA use on memory and other functions in which serotonin has been implicated, such as mood, impulse control, and sleep cycles. How long MDMA-induced brain damage persists and the long-term consequences of that damage are other questions researchers are trying to answer. Animal studies, which first documented the neurotoxic effects of the drug, suggest that the loss of serotonin neurons in humans may last for many years and possibly be permanent. “We now know that brain damage is still present in monkeys 7 years after discontinuing the drug,” Dr. Ricuarte says. “We don’t know just yet if we’re dealing with such a long lasting effect in people.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse – NIDA  Volume 14, Nunnber 4.

 Memory tests and brain scans performed on 22 subjects who had recently used Ecstasy revealed they suffered memory deficiencies and changes in certain brain cells. The scans showed the damage was most pronounced on cortical neurons linked to memory function. In Ecstasy users, those brain cells had a decreased density of receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin, which transports messages between cells and is known to affect mood. Previous research has suggested that Ecstasy causes a flood of serotonin in the brain, followed by a drop-off when the drug wears off. Brain scans performed on 16 former Ecstasy users who had abstained from the drug for at least a year did not show lasting damage to the serotonin receptors in cortical neurons. But former users did not perform as well on memory tests as 13 control subjects who had never used the drug. While the neurons of former users seemed to recover, the consequences on memory from the earlier Ecstasy use may be irreversible, said study author Liesbeth Reneman of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. The longer that Ecstasy was used and the higher the dosages, the worse the memory impairment, the study found.

“We identified that MDMA [Ecstasy] use is associated not only with short-term consequences [on memory] but with long-term consequences as well,” Reneman wrote in the October issue of the medical journal Archives of General Psychiatry. Study participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 45, agreed not to use psychoactive drugs for three  weeks before the testing. The study noted that Ecstasy users were more likely to smoke marijuana than the control group, which might have influenced the memory test results. Previous research has shown Ecstasy, sometimes known as MDMA or by its chemical name 3,4-methylenedioxymetharrphetamine, can cause dramatic changes in heart rate and blood pressure. It can also lead to dehydration and has been shown to cause lasting changes in the brain’s chemical systems that control mood and memory. Animal studies have shown damage to brain cells connected to memory function.

Source: Author Liesbeth Reneman Academic Medical centre Amsterdam. Published in Los Angeles times 2001.

Researchers in Spain have isolated the component of ecstasy that seems to cause brain damage, allowing them to measure the long-term damage from the drug in human users. Lead researcher Rafael de Ia Torre of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona said that HHMA (3,4 dihydroxymethamphetamine) is partially responsible for ecstasy’s harm to the human brain. Previous research had linked HHMA to many of ecstasy’s known side-effects. Through de Ia Tones findings, researchers will be able to measure the amount and concentration of HHMA in a person’s body and provide new insight into ecstasy. “This observation concerns not only ecstasy’s acute effects, but more interestingly, it’s mid and long-term neurotoxicity,” de Ia Torre said. ‘The detection of HHMA was hampered up to now by problems measuring it in humans, which we have solved.”

Source: author  Rafael de Ia Torre et al. Published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. Sept 2001.
Filed under: Ecstasy :

Emergency room visits involving ecstasy grew nine-fold from 1996-1999 (319 to 2,850); most patients were under the age of twenty-five.

Source: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. (Apr 6, 2001) Prevention Alert. 4(7).
Filed under: Ecstasy :

Ecstasy Use During Pregnancy Can Cause Memory Damage

New research indicates that use of the drug ecstasy during pregnancy can cause long-term learning and memory problems in children, the Associated Press reported April 30.  A research team led by Charles V. Vorhees of  Children’s Hospital Research Foundation and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio, found that rats given ecstasy on days 11-20 of their life suffered from impaired learning and memory in maze tests. During the first 11 to 20 days, a rat’s still developing brain is used to approximate exposing a woman to the drug in her third trimester of pregnancy. The researchers found that the damage suffered early in life continued when the rats
reached adulthood. “These findings suggest that ecstasy may pose a previously unrecognized risk to the developing brain,”said Vorhees.

Source: Author C.V. Vorhees et al. Published in the  Journal of Neuroscience. may 2001.

I entirely support the conclusion of Dr. William Bennett, co-chair of DWI, concerning the acute and chronic irreversible damaging effects of ‘Ecstasy’ (3-4 methylenedoxyrnethamphetamine ) its methylated derivatives. These effects have been reported for the past 15 years in dozens of articles published in the biomedical specialized literature (Pharmacology, Toxicology, Pathology) MDMA is a neurotoxic substance associated with acute and chronic brain damage and cardiovascular toxicity,- along with impairment of reproductive function and fetal development (see Ellenhorn, Medical Toxicology, Elsevier 1995).

MDMA is a ring substituted amphetamine derivative chemically related to both hallucinogens and stimulants.

Marked tolerance occurs with an increase to 10 times the initial dose. After one ingestion, the main complications reported are hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, tachycardia, muscle rigidity (trismus) which resolves within 48 hours. Regular users present weight loss, exhaustion, jaundice, paranoia, damage to hepatic function and spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage. Signs can develop several hours after ecstasy ingestion. These complications occur unpredictably and require immediate action with a treatment similar to that used by anesthetist to treat severe hyperthermia (dantrolene) No pharmaceutical company has ever made MDMA nor has the FDA given its approval. In 1985 the DEA classified MDMA as a Schedule I compound with a high potential of abuse and without any current medical use.
Effects of MDMA on brain and behaviour are mediated by its effect on serotoninergic nerve terminals and impairment of turnover of this neuromediator. Intrauterine growth abnormalities, complications of pregnancy and delivery including maternal death, and neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral abnormalities in neonates have been described with antenatal methamphetamine drug exposure. Intrauterine death has followed an intravenous injection of amphetamine.
Methamphetamine studies in pregnancy describe an increased incidence of intrauterine growth retardation, prematurity and perinatal complications. Body weight, length, and head circumference changes in the infant are described. At birth, withdrawal symptoms may include abnormal sleep patterns, tremors, hypertonicity, a high—pitched cry, poor feeding patterns, sneezing, and frantic sucking. During the first year, the infant may exhibit lethargy, poor feeding, poor alertness, and severe lassitude.

Source: Dr. Gabriel G. Nahas. www.marijuanaresearch.com, Nov 2001

In 2001. over 8 million persons aged 12 or older reported using Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime. The majority of past year Ecstasy users were young adults 18 to 25. Past year Ecstasy users aged 12 to 25 were more likely to have used other types of illicit drugs in the past year than those who did not use Ecstasy in the past year.

Source: http://www.samhsa.gov, Mar 2003.
Filed under: Ecstasy,Youth :

Disturbing evidence is emerging that the increasingly popular drug ecstasy can be linked to users suffering long term brain damage . University of Adelaide researchers have found that ecstasy taken on a few occasions could cause severe damage to brain cells, with the potential to cause future memory loss or psychological problems. Dr Rod Irvine, an internationally regarded ecstasy expert from the University’s Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, says with 7% of 17 year olds reporting use of ecstasy major health problems could be expected in the future. For many years it has been known from animal experiments that small doses of ecstasy-even if only taken on only a few occasions-can cause severe damage to certain brain cells,” he says. “More recently, evidence has started to accumulate suggesting that this damage may also occur in humans. Brain scans ar psychological assessment of ecstasy users have been used to obtain this information. “If our suspicions are proved correct, it will mean many of our young people will have memory loss or psychological problems in the future.’

Dr Irvine’s research on brain damage caused by ecstasy shows that the drug seems to work mainly through its effects on one type of brain cell, and even through one molecule in those cells. It also seems likely that the way  body reacts chemically to ecstasy is important in producing adverse effects, as is the surrounding temperature, which can lead to users over heating. Adelaide’s reputation as having the highest per capita death rate from ecstasy in Australia-and perhaps even the world-forms another component of Dr Irvine’s research. Dr Irvine is looking at the shorter-term consequences of ecstasy ‘overdoses’, and has established t the high rate of death is due to a different strain of ecstasy appearing on the Adelaide market in the mid l990s.

Normal ecstasy contains the pharmacological ingredient known as MDMA as its main ingredient, but the Adelaide strain often contained no MDMA but rather a more potent chemical known as PMA. “PMA hasn’t been around since the early 1970s when it was responsible for the deaths of several people in Ontario, Canada, and now it’s reappeared here in Adelaide,” Dr Irvine says. ‘We don’t know where the PMA came from, but we do know that it has been prevalent in Adelaide since the mid 1990s.”

Source: Author Dr. Rod Irvine. Reported online, March 2002.

Ecstasy fans beware: long-term use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) may lead to memory loss or impairment, according to findings reported today in the journal Neurology. Over the course of a year, researchers studied 15 ecstasy users ranging in age from 17 to 31 who took the drug 2.4 times a month on average. They found that tests linked the use of ecstasy with different aspects of memory decline. The ability to recall a story after a brief delay, for example, dropped by about 50 percent between the first and second evaluations.

Konstantine Zakzanis of the University of Toronto, a co-author of the report, warns that the study relied on self-reporting by patients, which can yield misleading results. He further notes that the makeup of street drugs is variable. Still, “for those who use ecstasy repeatedly, there is preliminary evidence to suggest memory processes can be impaired with continued use of the drug,” he remarks, “For those that use ecstasy once or twice in a lifetime, to date, there is no evidence suggesting impairment of memory function that is progressive or permanent in nature, although the jury of ecstasy researchers are still deliberating the matter.

Source: K. Zakzanis et al. Published in Scientific American.com, Nov 2002.

More evidence has emerged that long-term users of the drug Ecstasy may have permanent changes in the way their brains work. In particular, using the drug may be killing cells which produce a vital mood chemical called seratonin. But it is not yet confirmed whether the loss of these cells has an adverse effect on brain health. The latest clues come from an autopsy of a 26-year-old Canadian – a long-term heavy user of Ecstasy – who died of an overdose of a different drug. When his brain was tested, it was found to have between 5O°/o and 80% less serotonin than the brain of other patients.
While the researchers, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, concede it is difficult to draw conclusions from a single case, they say the finding is significant.
Dr Stephen Kish said: “ This is the first study to show that this drug can deplete the level of serotonin in humans.” Seratonin is a neurotransmitter chemical, released by nerve cells in the brain, which controls mood, pain perception, sleep, appetite and emotion. A massive release of seratonin stimulated by Ecstasy is widely thought to be the principal mechanism of the drug.

Ecstasy hangover

Additionally, the “Ecstasy hangover” – feelings of excessive tiredness and irritability, alongside an inability to think clearly – is thought to be caused by an over-depletion of the chemical as the drug ceases to have an effect. The man whose brain was the subject of the study started using Ecstasy once a month at the age of 17. In the last few years of his life, he used it four or five nights a week at nightclubs, usually including a three-day weekend “binge” during which he took six to eight tablets. It is still uncertain whether a low level of serotonin in those who take Ecstasy is due to the action of the drug, or whether naturally occurring deficits in the chemical make you more likely to take it. Studies on animals given the drug suggest the former is more likely. Dr Philip Robson, a senior research fellow in psychiatry at Oxford University, said: ‘We simply don’t know what the long term effects of losing these nerve cells is.”

Source: Dr. Stephen Kish Centre Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, July 2000.

Clubbers who take ecstasy are 25% more likely to have a mental health disorder, compared to the general population, a survey has found. The UK average is one in five. Its findings back up previous scientific concerns over a link between ecstasy and mental health problems.
Ecstasy users are also twice as likely to have seen a doctor about a mental health problem compared to the rest of the population. half of them asked about depression, which scientists believe could be linked to use of the Class A drug. But one in 10 users believed that taking ecstasy had made their lives worse overall. Both ecstasy and cocaine have been linked with mental health problems such as paranoia, panic attacks and depression.

Widespread drug use

The extent of drug use amongst clubbers is graphically illustrated by the fact 97% of 1,000 people surveyed said they had tried both E and cannabis at least once. Eleven per cent have tried heroin.
Mixmag estimates 1.5m people take ecstasy every weekend. But it says consumption has dropped by 13% among regular users. Ecstasy use had resulted in unplanned sex for one in three, one in 100 of which resulted in pregnancies. Half said their performance at work had been affected
because of the drug. But the survey also found clubbers had developed a novel way of ensuring Ecstasy got into their bloodstream as quickly as possible – by taking it as a suppository. One in 15 surveyed by Mixmag admitted they had taken the drug in this way, a 200% increase compared to last year. Inserting it into the rectum allows the body to absorb it more quickly because of the large number of blood vessels in the anus.

Cocaine

Cocaine use fell 4%, though 45% of those surveyed said they still took the drug on a regular basis. Almost a third of cocaine users reported suffering a nosebleed after snorting the drug. Drug use appeared to be linked closely with high levels of alcohol use. More than a third of men who responded to the survey spent more than four nights a week in the pub. All respondents were three-and-a-half times more likely to injure themselves on alcohol than on ecstasy. They were also two-and-a-half times more likely to end up in the local casualty department. The survey also showed one in three said they had been violent on alcohol, compared with one in l0 on ecstasy. Twice as many had driven on ecstasy than on alcohol but drink drivers had a higher accident rate.

Source: Mixmag Survey. Dr Adam Winstock, National Addiction Centre University, Kent, Jan 2002.

The dance drug ecstasy, thought to be taken by half a million people a week, has been found for the first time to damage a part of the brain that allows people to remember what they have to do next. Heavy users became unreliable and liable to forget things. Researchers told the British Psychological Society conference in Glasgow that their work provided more evidence that ecstasy was dangerous and should not be made legal. Between 200,000 and five million ecstasy tablets a week were used in Britain and that there was growing concern that the drug may damage frontal and pre-frontal lobes of the brain, which in teenagers may not have fully developed.
The conference was told that regular use may damage parts of the brain with planning and remembering daily activities or destroy certain neurotransmitters which pass information around the brain. A team of psychologists tested 40 adults who took ecstasy regularlyat least 10 times a month and compared their memories with 39 adults who did not use the drug. The researchers looked at short term habitual memory, such as forgetting to turn off the alarm clock in the morning or lock the car; long term episodic memory, such as forgetting to pass on messages and internally cued memory such as forgetting what they had come into a room to do or say. While all the participants were familiar with some memory lapses, the drug users were significantly more forgetful on all three measures.

Dr Heffernan said: “There is a belief that soft drugs, which many consider ecstasy to be should be legalised when in fact research including our own suggests that regular use can have a very damaging effect on your cognitive health.” He said there was mounting evidence that ecstasy could produce lasting effects but it was not yet known if the damage would be apparent years after a person stopped taking ecstasy.

Source:  Dr. Heffernan, Dr. Sholey and Dr. Ling.  British Royal Society Conference, Glasgow.

Filed under: Ecstasy :

People who take the drug ecstasy are more likely to suffer from long-term memory loss. The study, which surveyed users in Europe, the United States and Australia, found that those who regularly took the dance club drug were 23%more likely to report problems with their memory than non-users.

Ecstasy users who also take cannabis were facing a “myriad of memory afflictions,” the report said, which could represent “a time bomb” of cognitive problems for later life.

The report, led by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, said short-term memory was affected by cannabis. Despite some high-profile deaths caused by ecstasy, there has been a widespread perception among young users that the drug is safe.

Users say it heightens awareness, intensifies their emotions and makes them feel good. But in extreme cases, ecstasy can cause spikes in body temperatures severe enough to be fatal. “Users may think that ecstasy is fun and that it feels fairly harmless at the time,” said lead researcher Dr. Jacqui Rodgers of Newcastle University in Britain. “However, our results show slight but measurable impairments to memory as a result of use, which is worrying.”

The survey team based their findings on responses from 763 participants but they also looked closely at a sub-group of 81 “typical” ecstasy users who had taken the drug at least 10 times.

The typical users showed their long-term memory to be 14% worse than the 480 people who had never taken ecstasy and 23% worse than the 242 who had never taken drugs at all.

Additionally, the typical users made 29% more mistakes on the questionnaire form than the people who did not take drugs at all.

“The findings also suggest that ecstasy users who take cannabis are suffering from a ‘double whammy’ where both their long-term and short-term memory is being impaired,” Rodgers said.

Source: London Reuters; Jan 2004.

Filed under: Ecstasy :

New statistics from Britain’s Home Office finds that the popularity of ecstasy as a dance drug is waning as teenagers turn to legal prescription drugs.

According to the British Crime Survey, ecstasy use among 16- to 24-year-olds in England and Wales dropped 21 percent last year. Use of amphetamines, also popular among young people attending all-night parties and dance events, also is on the decline.

The drugs have been replaced to some extent with amyl nitrate, or “poppers,” a legal prescription drug used to treat angina, officials said.

Caroline Flint, the Home Office drugs minister, said the decline in ecstasy use indicates that the government’s drug strategy is working.

“Young people are getting the message that drugs are harmful and some drugs can, and do, kill. It’s encouraging to see signs that our work is having an effect,” she said. “After increases in the late 1990s in drug use, the trend overall is now steady and drug use has remained stable since 2001/02.”

Source: Guardian Dec. 2003

Filed under: Ecstasy,Youth :

Regular users of the illegal drug ecstasy are risking damage to their long-term memory; according to research by a team drawn from five British universities.

Self-assessment by volunteers showed that clubbers who pop the pills an estimated 2 million a week in Britain are 23% more likely to suffer memory blanks than those who do not use them.

Lapses in following TV plots and forgetting to pass on messages were frequently cited in their responses to a website questionnaire.

“Users may think that ecstasy is fun and that it feels fairly harmless at the time,” the project lead researcher Dr Jaequi Rodgers, of Newcastle University’s neurology department said. “However, our results show slight but measurable impairments to memory as a result of use, which is worrying.”

Mixing ecstasy-taking with cannabis use a very pattern, according to the data adds significantly to the damage, the report says. Such users face a double whammy; they are vulnerable to a myriad of memory afflictions which may represent a time bomb of cognitive problems for later life.’

The research, which attracted responses from the US, Australia and EU countries, is the biggest piece of self analytical material so far contributed to the ecstasy debate. Dr Rodgers said the findings conformed to most published data from actual memory tests taken by ecstasy users, although the drug’s effects needed much more study.

“We all know of cases where people have suffered acutely from the use of ecstasy such as the teenager Leah Betts, but relatively little is known about the more subtle effects on regular users: she said.

“It’s a matter for concern that we don’t really know what the long-term effects of ecstasy use will be. But our results indicate that users are potentially creating a time bomb of potential cognitive difficulties in later life?’

The research, which involved medical staff from East London, Northumbria, Tees side and Westminster Universities, had 763 participants, but looked particularly Closely at 81 respondents who had taken ecstasy more than 10 times.

The drug, scientifically known as 3,4- methylenedioxy- methaznphetamine or MDMA, has been fashionable n clubs, bin the Home Office said last month that its use in Britain had fallen last year by 21%.

Young users are thought to be shifting to legal alternatives such as amyl nitrate ‘poppers’ – partly in fear of ecstasy’s potent damage, including research indications that it may affect women more than men.

The charity Drugscope welcomed the findings as a contribution to information on ecstasy’s effects, but a
spokeswoman said: “What we really need is a long term study of the drug and government funding to pay for that.”

The memory findings are published in the new issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The project plans to run website memory tests later this year.
Source:Journal of Psychopharmacology; Jan 15th 2004.

Filed under: Ecstasy :

The nature of ecstasy-group related deficits in associative learning
Catherine Montgomery, John E. Fisk and Russell Newcombe

Rationale/objectives Research has revealed associative learning deficits among users of ecstasy; the present study explored the component processes underlying these deficits.

Methods: 35 ecstasy users and 62 non-ecstasy users completed a computer-based, verbal paired-associates learning task. Participants attempted to learn eight sequentially presented word pairs. After all eight had been presented, the first member of each pair was displayed and participants attempted to recall the second. Eight trials were administered. Correct responses on each trial, forgetting at various levels of learning, perseveration errors and the rate at which the associations were learned (trials to completion) were all recorded.

Results: MANOVA revealed that ecstasy users performed worse overall and subsequent ANOVAs showed that users performed significantly worse on virtually all measures. Regression analysis revealed that over half of the ecstasy-group related variance in trials to completion was attributable to group differences in initial learning and forgetting. In relation to forgetting, it appears that cannabis use may be an important determinant. In relation to rate of learning (trials to completion) and initial learning, both ecstasy and cannabis may be implicated.

Conclusions: There appears to be abundant evidence of associative learning deficits among ecstasy users. However, it appears that a range of illicit drugs including cannabis and ecstasy may contribute to these deficits

Source: Psychopharmacology online: 25 January 2005

 DUBLIN (Reuters) – Clubbers using ecstasy to keep them dancing through the night may damage their immune systems, while those suffering from depression induced by the drug could be more difficult to treat, a neuroscientist said on Wednesday.Developed as an appetite suppressant but now used at raves and nightclubs to reduce inhibitions, ecstasy has been linked to psychiatric illnesses but Dr. Thomas Connor of Trinity College Dublin believes it may also put physical health at risk.

“Ecstasy has potent immunosuppressant qualities which have the ability to increase an individual’s susceptibility to disease,” Connor told journalists at the British Association for the Advancement of Science annual festival in Dublin.

The environment in which ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is taken further increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases, he said.

“People ingest these drugs in crowded nightclubs full of young people with lots of bugs (germs) going around.”

Connor said evidence so far suggested somebody taking two tablets during a night out would experience a weakening in the body’s natural defences lasting up to 48 hours. Scientists have yet to study the long-term impact on the immune system but the potential was there for damage in hard-core users, he added.

Connor pointed to anecdotal evidence suggesting a higher risk of illness such as web sites used by clubbers advising that they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables in order to boost their immune systems before taking the drug.

There had been instances of unusual illnesses in young users such as shingles of the eye and cases of meningitis, which causes inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord, shortly after ingesting the drug, he said.

In the face of evidence that MDMA can lead to depression, anxiety and psychosis, Connor said there were growing signs the physical damage done by the drug reduced the effectiveness of anti-depressants such as Prozac.

“In ecstasy users the proteins that Prozac works on are greatly diminished in number,” he said, cautioning however that results so far were based on studies on animals rather than clinical trials.

Source: Reuters Health online Sept.2005

Cheap, hallucinogenic drug soon to be given class C ratingIn veterinary circles, ketamine is used as a horse tranquilliser; on the battlefield, it has proved an effective anaesthetic. But in UK clubs and bars, the drug, known as Special K, has developed a mass following. According to new research, Special K, which has strong hallucinogenic qualities, is becoming as popular as ecstasy.

 

The rise in popularity of ketamine in the past year is revealed in a survey published today by DrugScope, the leading drugs information charity. The results of the survey – which involved analysing data from 40 frontline drug services operating in 15 cities – show that the drug, which was once only popular within the gay clubbing scene, has widened its appeal. Special K is now to be found on the list of major drugs on sale in eight of the 15 cities for the first time.

“The emergence of ketamine as a key substance of choice is an entirely new phenomenon since we last carried out the survey in 2004 when it didn’t figure at all,” said Harry Shapiro, editor of Druglink, the drug information charity’s magazine.

The survey quotes Nottingham drugs worker Peter Hurd, of the drug counselling service Compass: “Ketamine has now established its place alongside the usual dance scene drugs like ecstasy. It is popular in pre-club bars and has a big following in both gay and straight clubs. It is being taken with other dance drugs by middle-class people who like to party hard at the weekend and then go back to work in the week.”

Ketamine is being sold for as little as £15 a gram in London and Nottingham, half the average UK cost.

Neil Venables, a Birmingham drug treatment worker said that for some young people ketamine had replaced ecstasy: “Ecstasy pills contain less MDMA [the active ingredient] than they used and so it is more of ‘just a stimulant’ than something that alters your state of mind. People aged 18 to 25 are taking ketamine for a more trippy night out. You can spot them on the dance floor because they are not dancing, they’re sitting down in a bit of vegetative state.”

This anecdotal evidence from frontline drugs agencies is backed up by figures from the National Poisons Information Service, which reports that cases of ketamine intoxication have risen from 10 in 1995 to more than 100 in 2001.

The rise in popularity of ketamine has alarmed Home Office ministers, who have decided to outlaw it as a class C drug later this year on a par with cannabis and amphetamines.

Ketamine was invented by Parke-Davis laboratories in 1962 as a replacement for PCP or Angel Dust and is used as a horse tranquilliser. But it has also been used widely on humans after its worth as a “disassociative anaesthetic” in battlefield surgery was proved by the Americans in Vietnam. This hallucinogenic quality meant it helps to “separate” the mind from the body enabling urgent surgery to be performed to save the soldier’s life.

Talk to Frank, the government’s drug advice website, says: “Mixing it with anything else that slows down your body, like heroin, tranquillisers or alcohol, can be very dangerous. There’s a risk you’ll feel sleepy and unable to wake, and it’s more likely that if you’re sick you won’t wake up or cough, so you’ll choke on your own vomit. If it is mixed with ecstasy, it can bring back E sensations and feel quite trippy but it could also leave you with no control over your legs.”

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which recommended that Ketamine be made a class C drug, said recreational users were unlikely to come to harm but it does pose risks for people with heart and circulation disorders and for those with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. They advised the government that it can be addictive but dependence level was substantially below nicotine and amphetamines.

Traditionally, ketamine pills on the illegal market came from vets’ surgeries but more recently Customs and Excise say they have been brought in bulk from India, often shipped in as rosewater and massage oils. About one litre of ketamine liquid can make up to 50 grams of powder when cooked up.

Source: The Guardian September 6, 2005
Filed under: Ecstasy,Youth :

An article by Jay Pomerantz MD, states that the typical dose of Ecstasy is 50 to 150 mg but that there is a great variation in the potency from batch to batch and that often pills contain a mixture of MDMA and other compounds. The article lists a number of “undesirable” side effects including   jaw clenching, tooth grinding, constant restless movement of the legs, increase in body temperature, stiffness, lower back pain, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, blurred vision, dry mouth, insomnia, mild hallucinations, depersonalization, anxiety, panic attacks, delirium, brief psychotic episodes, difficulty concentrating, depression, and fatigue but says that “Despite these complaints, the majority of users find the overall balance of the experience positive. ” The article also notes, not surprisingly, that “A July 2001 report from SAMSHA shows a 58% increase in emergency departments visits, from 2850 in 1999 to 4511 in 2000.
The author states that there is  mounting evidence of persistent serotonin system damage [caused by MDMA] in both  animals and humans and this must be considered in the context of the known causal relationship between low serotonin levels and depression, aggression, impulsivity, and violent suicide” He concludes “Use of Ecstasy, particularly repeatedly, is inviting a chemically derived depression, which may persist.

Source: Behavioral Health Trends, December 2001, Ecstasy (MDMA): Is it Safe? By Jay M. Pomerantz, MD
Filed under: Ecstasy :

 Abuse of 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly called ecstasy) has been associated with acute symptomatic hyponatraemia with the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic-hormone secretion (SIADH). In one case, raised antidiuretic-hormone (arginine vasopressin; AVP) concentration was found. We investigated whether the hyponatraemic effort of MDMA is a direct effect of AVP secretion. Approval was obtained from the UK Home Office for the purchase and administration of MDMA, and from King’s College London Ethics Committee. Eight normally hydrated healthy male volunteers aged 22-32 years, were each given 47-5 mg MDMA hydrochloride (Sigma; equivalent to 40 mg MDMA base) in capsule form with 200 ml. water at 1000 h. Three acted as untreated controls at least 2 weeks later. Blood was taken before ingestion and at 30 min., 1 h, 2 h, 4 h, 6 h, 8 h, and 24 h after. Samples were analysed for MDMA by GC-MS and for AVP by RIA. Cortisol and sodium concentrations were also measured. Statistical analysis between before and after data was by repeated-measures ANOVA or by paired t test.

 

Plasma AVP concentrations reached a maximum between 1h and 2h after drug administration. Baseline AVP concentrations (range 1.14-1.88 pmol/L) increased significantly at 2h (range 2.46-9.16 pmol/L; paired t test p=0.006, one tail), mean AVP concentrations (figure) contrasting with the small decrease observed on control occasions. Despite increases in AVP and MDMA, a correlation was not shown (Spearman r=0.2, p=0.1), probably because of the rapid clearance of AVP, the initial elimination half-life of which is about 6 min., compared with that of MDMA, which is measured in hours. Sodium concentrations changed significantly, ranges at baseline and 2h after drug adminisrtation were 139-145 mmol/L and 140-142 mmol/L respectively; seven of eight volunteers showed a decrease of 1-3 mmol/Lm whereas the remaining volunteer showed an increase of 1 mmol/L (paired t test p=0.025, one tail). Mean initial cortisol concentration was 331.4 mmol/L (range 208.8-603.4 mmol/L), which increased, although not significantly (p>0.05), to 377.2 mmol/L (range 268.4-583.3 mmol/L) at 2 h.Street “ecstasy” frequently contains more than 100 mg of MDMA. In this study, a single relatively small dose caused an acute rise in AVP concentration at a time of day when it would not be expected to change. The rise in AVP was accompanied by a small fall in plasma sodium concentrations. The hyponatraemic illness experienced by some users is thus likely to be linked to the drug’s ability to stimulate secretion of AVP. hence, if fluid intake is excessive, even a relatively small dose of MDMA could lead to symptoms of hyponatraemia. The rise in AVP does not seem to be part of a generalised stress response because there was no significant change in plasma cortisol concentration. It therefore seems that MDMA-induced hyponatraemia is unlikely to be due to a rare and idiosyncratic reaction, but results from a pharmacological effect compounded by excessive fluid ingestion. Animal studies show that MDMA stimulates the output of serotonin by serotonergic neurones, and AVP secretion is regulated by serotonergic pathways.
The message is that those who take ‘ecstasy’ or similar drugs may be at risk of hyponatraemia and should, therefore, avoid drinking fluid in excess of the body’s requirements. This may be difficult for users to estimate because MDMA reduces perception of thirst and impairs judgment.

Source: John A Henry, et al Academic
department of A & , Imperial College School of Medicine,
St. Mary’s Hospital,,
London.London

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health :

A new health education campaign launching in the Phoenix area seeks to respond to data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) that finds usage rates of methamphetamine and Ecstasy among Phoenix-area teens are above national averages. The campaign unveiled today by the Partnership – with support from the Partnership for a Drug-Free Arizona, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) and Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) – is dedicated to reducing methamphetamine and Ecstasy use among teens in the Phoenix area. The campaign consists of a pediatrician-driven media outreach effort designed to educate parents and teens about the dangerous health consequences of these drugs, and includes an intensive public service advertising campaign in the Phoenix market. Phoenix is one of two U.S. cities where the campaign is being introduced.

“The disturbing number of teens in the Phoenix area who already are experimenting with these drugs makes this a health problem that must be addressed,’ said Dr. Peggy Stemmler, president of the AzAAP, a key partner in the new health education campaign. “Paediatricians are in a unique position to help close the gap between perception and reality about the real consequences of these drugs.”

In the Phoenix area, 14 paediatricians will serve as primary spokespeople for the media communications effort. Campaign coordinators believe the voice of the medical community will resonate with parents in particular in order to motivate them to take an active role in persuading their teens not to use these drugs. HMA Public Relations, a local public relations agency, will coordinate media efforts for paediatricians participating locally.

“More than one of every three teens in the Phoenix area has been offered Ecstasy or ‘meth,’ and teen use of both drugs is above national averages,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership, the national non profit organization best known for its media-based drug education campaigns. “Phoenix needs the facts about the real risks of using these drugs if we’re going to turn those numbers around.” The Partnership is providing the local effort with hard-hitting public service ads for television, radio, print and Internet, as well as with research to measure the impact of the effort.

Top-line findings of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s study include:

* 13 percent of Phoenix-area teenagers report having used methamphetamine (meth), compared to nine percent of all teens nationwide; 13 percent report having used Ecstasy, compared to 11 percent of all teens nationwide;
* 33 percent of teens report having been offered methamphetamine, and 35 percent report being offered Ecstasy;
* 61 percent of teens report knowing someone who uses Ecstasy, and half (50 percent) report knowing someone who uses methamphetamine; and
* Just one to two percent of Phoenix-area parents surveyed (one percent for Ecstasy, two percent for meth) agree that it’s possible their kids may have tried these drugs.

“Survey data also show parents and teens underestimate the specific health risks of these drugs,’ said Pasierb. “Risk-related attitudes correlate strongly with trends in drug use; for example, when teenagers see greater risks associated with a particular drug, use of that drug declines, Unfortunately, the opposite holds true as well, so the time is right for a concerted intervention to reverse the trends were seeing in Phoenix.”

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant. Often called ‘speed’ or ‘crystal’, meth is a crystal-like, powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. Meth is usually white or slightly yellow, depending on the purity. The drug can be taken orally, injected, snorted or smoked. Once a threat largely in the American southwest, production and use of the drug, which is cheaper and longer lasting than cocaine, has moved steadily eastward in recent years, finding willing users in a generation unlikely to remember the phrase, ‘speed kills’. Long-term use and/or high doses of methamphetamine can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis, often exhibited as violent, aggressive behaviour. Ecstasy–chemically known as 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA – is a psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. It can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. Usually taken orally in pill form, the drug accelerates the release of serotonin in the brain and provides users with an intense high, characterized by feelings of love and acceptance, as well as a general sense of well being, decreased anxiety and enhanced sensitivity to touch. Ecstasy can cause dramatic increases in body temperature, muscle breakdown, and kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities.
Source: Press release, Partnership For Drug Free America June 200

Ads warning about the dangers of smoking pot or taking Ecstasy can persuade young people stay away from drugs, according to a study released by an advocacy group.A survey of teens conducted for the Partnership for a Drug Free America found kids who see or hear anti drug ads at least once a day are less likely to do drugs than youngsters who don’t see or hear ads frequently. Teens who got a daily dose of the anti drug message were nearly 40 percent less likely to try methamphetamine and about 30 percent less likely to use Ecstasy, the study found. When asked about marijuana, kids who said they saw the ads regularly were nearly 15 percent less likely to smoke pot.

The partnership produces most of the anti drug messages for the White House. Among them: one featuring a young man visiting the site where his brother was killed by a driver under the influence of marijuana. The difficulty is getting kids to see the ads and pay attention to them. A University of Pennsylvania study released last year found the ads are largely ignored by teens.

A spokesman for the government’s drug policy office, Tom Riley said the partnership changed the tone of the ads in the last year to make them harder hitting and punchier. The ads also play up the negative consequences of drugs more, he said.
“These ads have taught millions of teens the truth that marijuana is a harmful drug,” said Riley.

Barry McCaffrey drug czar during the Clinton administration said the anti drug ads are having a profound impact in a fundamental way, affecting not just adolescents but adults” as well including parents, pediatricians and teachers. The drop in drug use proves the ads are a key part in the battle, he said.
Source: Sunday Partnership for Drug free America 2003

Report Shows Parents Unaware of Children’s Ecstasy Use

While nearly 3 million teenagers in America have already tried the club drug Ecstasy, only one percent of parents believe their son or daughter is among them – and half of all parents are unclear about the effects of the so-called ‘love drug,’ according to a national survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free America (PDFA).
The 2001-2002 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 1,219 parents across the country from December 2001 to January 2002. (Margin of error + / -2.8 percent. Data are nationally projectable.) This is the 14th installment of parents data fielded for the PATS study since
1987. Top line findings include the following:

  • Spreading the word: 92 percent of all parents have heard about Ecstasy. Parents of children in grades 7 to 12 are more likely to have heard about Ecstasy (93 percent) than parents of younger children in grades 4 to 6 (89 percent).
  • Instilling the meaning: One of every two parents in America (49 percent) is unclear about Ecstasy’s effects on users. Some 60 percent of all parents are unsure of what is in the drug.
  • Not acknowledging the risk to their children: With 12 percent of teenagers in the country (2.8 million teens) reporting use of Ecstasy, the study released today shows that only one percent of parents believe their teen might have tried the drug. (Teen use of Ecstasy has jumped 71 percent since 1999- and is now equal to or greater than adolescent consumption of cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD and metbampheta mine.)
  • Parent & teen perceptions far apart: Parents underestimate the availability of Ecstasy to teenagers, and overestimate the degree of risk teens associate with the drug. Almost three out of four parents (72 percent) believe their teen sees great risk in using Ecstasy once or twice. (Just 42 percent of teens agree.) Some 41 percent of parents think Ecstasy would be very or fairly difficult for their teen to get. (Just 26 percent of teens agree.)
  • More reminders, more talks: Exposure to anti-drug ads correlate with frequent parent-child communication about drugs. Among parents who reported seeing or hearing an anti-drug message every day or more, 55 percent talk frequently. Among parents exposed to fewer messages, 44 percent talk frequently.
  • Ecstasy-specific talks: Among the drugs parents talk ‘a lot’ about with teenagers, parents were more likely to discuss inhalants (36 percent)
  • cocaine/crack (48 percent); marijuana (60 percent) and alcohol (70 percent) than Ecstasy (29 percent).

‘Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are less likely to try drugs’ Pasierb said. “Yet millions of parents sincerely don’t believe that their kids are the ones experimenting with drugs like Ecstasy. It’s these assumptions that enable drug use to go undetected. rf you’re a parent hearing this, the question we beg you to consider is ‘Could this be me?”
Ecstasy–chemically known as 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA – is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. Taken orally in pill form, Ecstasy can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. Ecstasy accelerates the release of serotonin in the brain, producing an intense high, often characterized by extreme feelings of love and acceptance – ‘the very emotions teens crave the most,” Pasierb said. Ecstasy can cause dramatic increases in body temperature and can lead to muscle breakdown, as well as kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities. A growing body of research has found Ecstasy to be neurotoxic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MDMA can damage the neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
As reported by the Partnership’s research and other studies, Ecstasy use has increased significantly across the country. Partnership research indicates that older teens (16-17) are more likely to experiment with Ecstasy than are younger teens (13-15); most users are boys, but by a slim margin. Unlike methamphetamine and other drugs that are more regional in nature, Ecstasy is a drug that has been found in major cities and small towns throughout America, with noteworthy emergence in locations as diverse as Baltimore, Maryland and Billings, Montana. (See “Pulse Check” findings.) Emergency room mentions related to Ecstasy increased nearly 13-fold from 421 in 1995 to 5,542 in 2000.

Source:Partnership for a Drug-Free America,New York July 2003
Filed under: Ecstasy,Parents,USA,Youth :


Crack cocaine has replaced ecstasy and heroin as the drug of choice among many young adults in the United Kingdom. In particular the use of crack cocaine has increased among ravers and prostitutes, the Observer reported Dec. 29.
“Tackling Crack’ a new report from Britain’s Home Office, shows that the use of crack cocaine has grown more than 200 percent over the past three years. The biggest increase has been within the sex industry.
In addition, DrugScope, an anti-drug group, reports that many club goers have switched to crack over fears of the effects of ecstasy use.
“There is growing evidence that clubbers are under the mistaken belief that cocaine is a safer option,” said a spokesman for the charity. “Because they haven’t seen scare stories about cocaine or crack, they believe that it is a better option than ecstasy.”
In Scotland, police said that crack cocaine is the drug of choice for middle class club-going teenagers. According to Tom Wood, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, there has been a 200% increase in the use of the drug.
Crack cocaine is an emerging threat,” said Wood. He added that dealers sell young people smaller ‘clubbing rocks.’
U.K. drug officials said the spread of crack cocaine is a result of Jamaican dealers who have introduced the drug in London and other major cities.

Source:Report in The Observer Dec 29 2003

Club drug hinders long-term recollection, while marijuana limits short-term memory By Steven Reinberg.

Adding to an already hefty body of evidence a new study finds ecstasy users suffer from long-term memory problems while marijuana smokers struggle with short-term memory lapses. The study found those who regularly took the popular club drug ecstasy were 23% more likely to report problems with remembering things than people who are drug-free. And marijuana smokers reported up to 20% more memory problems than non-users.

“There is a lot of evidence that ecstasy users are likely to use other drugs, including cannabis. Users of both substances may therefore be vulnerable to a myriad of memory afflictions, which may represent a time bomb of cognitive problems for later life,” says lead researcher Jacqui Rodgers Rodgers is with the School of Neurology, Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle in England. The findings appear in the January issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Collecting data through a Web site, Rodgers and colleagues used a standard questionnaire to assess drug use among the 763 individuals who responded. They also looked closely at a subgroup of 81 ‘typical’ ecstasy users who had taken the drug at least 10 times.

The people were asked about their short-term and long-term memory. They were also asked to rank the probability of scenarios such as finding a television story difficult to follow or forgetting to pass a message on to someone.

The group of ‘typical’ ecstasy users reported their long-term memory to be 14% worse than the 483 people who had never taken ecstasy, and 23% worse than the 242 non-drug users.

“We found that people who regularly take ecstasy report experiencing long-term memory difficulties, and are 23% more likely to report problems with remembering things than nonusers,” she says.

“We also found that people who use cannabis regularly report up to 20% more memory problems than non-users, in terms of short-term memory performance,” Rodgers adds.

Rodgers team also noted the number of mistakes the people made when titling out the questionnaire.

Users of ecstasy – also known as MDMA –made 21% more mistakes on the questionnaire compared with non-ecstasy users and 29% more mistakes than people who did not take drugs at all.

These differences were the same for men and women.

“Our findings may help drug services in the U.K. and elsewhere explain the potential consequences of use, so that people can make an informed decision as to whether to take ecstasy or not,” Rodgers says.

“Users may think that ecstasy is fun and that it feels fairly harmless at the time. However, our results show slight but measurable impairments to memory as a result of use, which is worrying,” she notes. “It’s equally concerning that we don’t realy know what the long-term effects of ecstasy use will be, as it is still a poorly understood drug,” Rodgers adds. “The findings also suggest that ecstasy users who take cannabis are suffering from a double whammy, where both their long-term and short-term memory is being impaired.

“Rodgers team is planning to launch a Web site within the next two months that will include memory tests that may determine whether self-reported memory impairment is actually detectable by objective measurement.

Dr Stephen Koesters, a clinical assistant professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Ohio State University, says, “The study has a number of limitations, but does seem to support other studies that have been released in the past.”

“While the specific effects of MDMA are difficult to pinpoint in light of multiple drug use by many patients, self- reporting of the amount and the frequency of drug use, there is certainly a trend in the available literature that suggests memory impairment is a real side effect of MDMA use” he adds.

Whether these effects are cumulative is difficult to determine, Koesters adds.

“Current evidence does suggest that MDMA can be dangerous, both with acute ingestion and to longer-term memory impairment,” Koesters says. “With the current rate that MDMA is being abused, it is not safe to wait 30 or 40 years to see if we have a true epidemic,” he adds.

Source: Journal of Psychopharmacology. Jan 2004 Reported on www.healthday.com

According to the just released 46-nation Council of Europe annual report, both countries have a higher proportion of cocaine users than anywhere except Spain and Ireland tops the League’s Table for ecstasy. About 185 million people worldwide – 3% of the global population – use illegal drugs. Nearly 80% use cannabis, 20% use ecstasy and amphetamines, 7% use cocaine and 3% use heroin. The situation is now so bad that Europe is the most profitable market in the world for production and trafficking of drugs…
Source: The Scotsman, January 25, 2005.

New research shows ecstasy may leave the brain more susceptible to infection and the damage may be permanent. In experiments done on rats, researchers from Boston University Medical School discovered that ecstasy damages the blood brain barrier, which is the group of tightly packed cells which surround and protect the brain.

“What they are saying in this study is that ecstasy essentially breaks down that protection,” said Dr. Robert Margolis, executive director of Solutions Counseling, an adolescent addiction treatment center in Atlanta, Ga. “(It) makes that blood brain barrier more porous, the openings between those cells larger, and (it) makes your brain more vulnerable to having things that you don’t want in your brain like infections and germs and bacteria.”

And now, for all those who took ecstasy at parties or dance clubs, there is a question: Has the drug damaged the barrier that protects their brain?

“The thing that I think you will start to see is looking at long-term epidemiological studies where they start to at least try to find out if ecstasy users have more brain infections (or) have more strokes,” Margolis said.

He said there’s a chance the damage will be permanent. “You do not want to do anything that is going to damage your brain because that is one area of your body that does not regenerate,” he adds. “It does not fix itself.”

Angela was 15 when she first tried ecstasy and soon she was doing it every week. “Everyone always told me it would put holes in your brain and I just ignored them,” said Angela, who is now 21. “I was like, ‘Whatever, I’m not doing it that much.’ Angela and her mom, Peggy, are worried.

“I hope that it doesn’t pan out to be that serious because I want her to have a normal brain and be able to function in life,” Peggy said. “But you know, sometimes we don’t get second chances. If she blew this without knowing what would happen on down the line then that’s a sad thing.”

“Now I have paranoia … that I might have something wrong with me later down the road and I don’t want to have to deal with that,” Angela said. “I mean, I want to be there for my children, I want to be there for my family. I want to be able to have a regular life now, and it wasn’t worth it.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ecstasy use is going down. More high school students say they know about ecstasy’s harmful effects.
Source: CWK Network January 2006

The use of Ecstasy in combination with other drugs is an increasing diagnostic and treatment problem for A&E staff, a study has revealed. The records of all patients tending A&E at St Thomas’ Hospital London were studied over a 15 month period. The notes of those who were suspected of having used Ecstasy, or methylenedioxymethamphetarnine, were systematically reviewed. They found 48 cases all in the 15-30 age group. Most presented in the early hours at weekends, The average number of tablets taken was two, and 40% of the patients had taken drugs before. However, half of them had taken another substance at the same time, usually amphetamines or cocaine. A wide range of clinical features were noted. The most common are detailed below. The most serious complications were in patients who had taken more than one drug. The authors say the problems caused in A&E by dance drugs are increased by multiple drug ingestion.

Symptoms of Ecstasy use alone or in combination. Most common symptoms with Ecstasy use alone:

Strange/unwell/dizzy/weak 44 %
Palpitations 37 %
Nausea or vomiting 31 %
Panic/anxiety/restlessness 31 %
Hot/cold 25 %
Abdominal pain 15 %
Most common symptoms with Ecstasy and other drugs/alcohol:
Collapsed/Loss of consciousness 31 %
Strange/unwell/dizzy/weak 25 %
Nausea or vomiting 19 %
Palpitations 19 %
Panic/anxiety/restlessness 12 %
Headache 12 %
Shaking 12 %
Source: Williams H., Drareau L, Taylor L., et al. (1998)
“Saturday night fever” Ecstasy related problems in a London accident and emergency department journal of Accident and Emergency Medicine 15: 5. 322-325

Objective: to describe prevalence and incidence of HIV-1, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and risk behaviours in a prospective cohort of injecting drug users (IDU).

Setting: Vancouver, which introduced a needle exchange programme (NEP) in 1988, and currently exchanges over 2 million needles per year.

Design: IDU who had injected illicit drugs within the previous month were recruited through street outreach. At baseline and semi-annually, subjects underwent serology for HIV-1 and HCV, and questionnaires on demographics, behaviours and NEP attendance were completed. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify determinants of HIV prevalence.
Results: Of 1006 IDU, 65% were men, and either white (65%) or Native (27%). Prevalence rates of HIV-1 and HCV were 23 and 88%, respectively. The majority (92% had attended Vancouver’s NEP, which was the most important syringe source for 78%. Identical proportions of known HIV-positive and HV-negative IDU reported lending used syringes (40%) Of HIV negative IDU. 39% ,.. borrowed used needles within the previous 6 months. Relative to HIV-negative lDU, HIV-positive IDU were more likely to frequently inject cocaine (72 versus 62%; p <0.001). Independent predictors of HIV-positive serostatus were low education, unstable housing, commercial sex, borrowing needles, being an established IOU, injecting with others, and frequent NEP attendance. Based on 24 seroconversions among 257 follow-up visits, estimated HIV incidence was 18.6 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval, 11.1—26.0).

Conclusions: Despite having the largest NEP in North America, Vancouver has been experiencing an ongoing HIV epidemic. Whereas NEP are crucial for sterile syringe provision, they should be considered one component of a comprehensive programme including counseling, support and education.

Strathdee Patrick Currie, et al –
AIDS 1997. 11:F59—F65

More evidence has emerged that long-term users of the drug Ecstasy may have permanent changes in the way their brains work. In particular, using the drug may be killing cells which produce a vital mood chemical called serotonin. But it is not yet confirmed whether the loss of these cells has an adverse effect on brain health. The latest clues come from an autopsy of a 26-year-old Canadian – a long-term heavy user of Ecstasy – who died of an overdose of a different drug. When his brain was tested, it was found to have between 50% and 80% less serotonin than the brain of other patients.

While the researchers, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, concede it is difficult to draw conclusions from a single case, they say the finding is significant. Dr Stephen Kish said: “This is the first study to show that this drug can deplete the level of serotonin in humans.” Serotonin is a neurotransmitter chemical, released by nerve cells in the brain, which controls mood, pain perception, sleep, appetite and emotion. A massive release of serotonin stimulated by Ecstasy is widely thought to be the principal mechanism of the drug.

Ecstasy hangover
Additionally, the “Ecstasy hangover” – feelings of excessive tiredness and irritability, alongside an inability to think clearly – is thought to be caused by an over-depletion of the chemical as the drug ceases to have an effect. The man whose brain was the subject of the study started using Ecstasy once a month at the age of 17. In the last few years of his life, he used it four or five nights a week at nightclubs, usually including a three-day weekend “binge” during which he took six to eight tablets. It is still uncertain whether a low level of serotonin in those who take Ecstasy is due to the action of the drug, or whether naturally occurring deficits in the chemical make you more likely to take it. Studies on animals given the drug suggest the former is more likely. Dr Philip Robson, a senior research fellow in psychiatry at Oxford University, said: “We simply don’t know what the long term effects of losing these nerve cells is.”

Source: Dr. Stephen Kish Centre Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, July 2000

Filed under: Ecstasy,Health :

Clubbers who take ecstasy are 25% more likely to have a mental health disorder, compared to the general population, a survey has found. The UK average is one in five. Its findings back up previous scientific concerns over a link between ecstasy and mental health problems.
Ecstasy users are also twice as likely to have seen a doctor about a mental health problem compared to the rest of the population. Half of them asked about depression, which scientists believe could be linked to use of the Class A drug. But one in 10 users believed that taking ecstasy had made their lives worse overall. Both ecstasy and cocaine have been linked with mental health problems such as paranoia, panic attacks and depression.

Widespread drug use
The extent of drug use amongst clubbers is graphically illustrated by the fact 97% of 1 000 people surveyed said they had tried both E and cannabis at least once. Eleven per cent have tried heroin.
Mixmag estimates 1.5m people take ecstasy every weekend. But it says consumption has dropped by 13% among regular users. Ecstasy use had resulted in unplanned sex for one in three, one in 100 of which resulted in pregnancies. Half said their performance at work had been affected because of the drug. But the survey also found clubbers had developed a novel way of ensuring Ecstasy got into their bloodstream as quickly as possible – by taking it as a suppository. One in 15 surveyed by Mixmag admitted they had taken the drug in this way, a 200% increase compared to last year. Inserting it into the rectum allows the body to absorb it more quickly because of the large number of blood vessels in the anus.

Cocaine
Cocaine use fell 4%, though 45% of those surveyed said they still took the drug on a regular basis. Almost a third of cocaine users reported suffering a nosebleed after snorting the drug. Drug use appeared to be linked closely with high levels of alcohol use. More than a third of men who responded to the survey spent more than four nights a week in the pub. All respondents were three-and-a-half times more likely to injure themselves on alcohol than on ecstasy. They were also two-and-a-half times more likely to end up in the local casualty department. The survey also showed one in three said they had been violent on alcohol, compared with one in 10 on ecstasy. Twice as many had driven on ecstasy than on alcohol but drink drivers had a higher accident rate.

Source: Mixmag Survey. Dr Adam Winstock, National Addiction Centre University, Kent, Jan 2002

Memory problems that plague many order people can affect ecstasy users in their mid-twenties, say British psychologists. They found that ecstasy damages prospective memory – remembering things to be done in the future. They were showing the kind of deficits you might expect to find in much older people, Tom Heffernan, at the University of Northumbria, told New Scientist. “There are problems with asking people with memory problems to fill in these kind of questionnaires’ he says. But, if anything, they would be prone to under-reporting these kind of events.”

Why am here?

Heffernan studied 40 adults in their early or mid-twenties who took ecstasy at least 10 times a month for up to five years. He found significant impairments in everyday measures of three kinds of prospective memory. The ecstasy users and a group of non-drug users completed questionnaires asking about memory lapses during the previous week and month. The questionnaires probed short-term habitual memory (such as forgetting to switch off an alarm clock in the morning) long-term episodic memory (such as forgetting to pass on messages) and internally-cued memory (such as forgetting what you have come into a room to do). Even when the team controlled for the use of other drugs known to impair memory, such as marijuana, the regular ecstasy users recorded significantly more memory lapses than the non-drug users.

Cognitive health
Previous studies have found that ecstasy impairs other types of memory, such as short-term retention of a list of words. Researchers suspect that ecstasy may be damaging neurons that make serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in memory. There is a belief that soft drugs – which many consider ecstasy to be – should be legalised when in fact research, including our own, suggests that regular use can have a very damaging effect on your cognitive health, say Heffernan. Whether the memory impairments are long term is not yet clear, he says. This research was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Centenary Conference in, Glasgow, UK.

Source: Author Tom Heffernan. Published on NewScientist.com, March 2001

Ecstasy and cannabis can cause memory loss and impair a person’s ability to conduct a conversation, research shows. A study found drug users often drifted off in the middle of sentences and would repeat a joke or story they had told already. The more cannabis people used, the more they lapsed in their everyday memory, scientists conclude. The findings come from one of the largest studies carried out into the impact of recreational drugs on psychological function. However, it is not representative of all drug takers and involved more than 700 people taking part in an online questionnaire. The snapshot survey looked at drug taking habits and whether they affected people’s ability to remember simple tasks.

Ecstasy users reported similar memory lapses to those taking cannabis. Dr Andrew Scholey, a psychologist from the University of Northurabria, said: The more they had taken ecstasy in the past, the more their long term prospect of memory failed. “This was down to the amount they had used, not the frequency. “The other thing we recorded was the number of errors they made when submitting the questionnaire. “The more people had taken ecstasy, the more errors they made on the form.”

Brain damage
The research team suggest ecstasy targets the frontal lobes of the brain, which are related to memory and organising responses. People with frontal lobe damage caused by accidents often find difficulty concentrating and are More easily distracted, research shows. Psychologists are intrigued that ecstasy users continue to take the drug, despite knowing it is damaging their brain. Dr Scholey said: “It’s bizarre. People are aware of what’s happening to them in terms of deteriorating mental function and don’t seem to do anything about it.” The team recognises the weaknesses of the study. Scholey said: “We have to be cautious in interpreting these types of data. “We are relying on self reports of memory failures in groups with memory problems.

‘However, it’s difficult to see why cannabis and ecstasy users would try to exaggerate these psychological problems.” The study was devised and conducted by UK scientists from the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Teeside, East London and Westminster. The majority of those who took part in the questionnaire (75%) were aged between 21 and 25. About 80% came from Europe and 16% were from the USA.

Source: BBC News, 14 March 2002

Ecstasy and cannabis can cause memory loss and impair a person’s ability to conduct a conversation, research shows. A study found drug users often drifted off in the middle of sentences and would repeat a joke or story they had told already. The more cannabis people used, the more they lapsed in their everyday memory, scientists conclude. The findings come from one of the largest studies carried out into the impact of recreational drugs on psychological function. However, it is not representative of all drug takers and involved more than 700 people taking part in an online questionnaire. The snapshot survey looked at drug taking habits and whether they affected people’s ability to remember simple tasks.

Ecstasy users reported similar memory lapses to those taking cannabis. Dr Andrew Scholey, a psychologist from the University of Northurabria, said: The more they had taken ecstasy in the past, the more their long term prospect of memory failed. “This was down to the amount they had used, not the frequency.” The other thing we recorded was the number of errors they made when submitting the questionnaire. “The more people had taken ecstasy, the more errors they made on the form.”

Brain damage
The research team suggest ecstasy targets the frontal lobes of the brain, which are related to memory and organising responses. People with frontal lobe damage caused by accidents often find difficulty concentrating and are more easily distracted, research shows. Psychologists are intrigued that ecstasy users continue to take the drug, despite knowing it is damaging their brain. Dr Scholey said: “It’s bizarre. People are aware of what’s happening to them in terms of deteriorating mental function and don’t seem to do anything about it.” The team recognises the weaknesses of the study.
Scholey said: “We have to be cautious in interpreting these types of data… We are relying on self reports of memory failures in groups with memory problems.”

“However, it’s difficult to see why cannabis and ecstasy users would try to exaggerate these psychological problems.” The study was devised and conducted by UK scientists from the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Teeside, East London and Westminster. The majority of those who took part in the questionnaire (75%) were aged between 21 and 25. About 80% came from Europe and 16% were from the USA.
Source: BBC News, 14 March 2002

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Ecstasy :

In the first such case in New Jersey, federal authorities yesterday charged an Atlantic County man with possessing a large amount of the hallucinogen ‘Foxy Methoxy,’ which is said to be similar to ecstasy.

It was one of the largest such seizures in the nation. Foxy is so new and seizures so rare that nationwide statistics are not readily available, Ed Childress, a spokesman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, said yesterday. Every bit as rare, authorities said, is the manner in which they got hold of the drugs: The defendant, from Absecon, notified them and led them straight to the stash. The man is in federal custody and undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
Foxy began appearing at all-night dance parties in 1999, and municipal police departments began seize amounts in 2001 Only a handful of large seizures have followed.

Source: www.momstell.com, Oct 2003

Filed under: Ecstasy :

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