E Makes You Forget Things & Fail To See Patterns

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.

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