Ecstasy May Leave Brain More Prone To Infection

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

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