Ecstasy linked to ‘significant’ memory loss

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: 2007

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