Subliminal Extacy #01
01 января 1995

How Ecstasy Blows Your Mind

How Ecstasy Blows Your Mind
                   How Ecstasy Blows Your Mind                  
                                                                
                      By Susan Katz Miller                      
                                                                
Ecstasy, the raver's recreational drug, may do lasting damage to
the brain.  A group of American researchers reported last week  
that the level of activity of at least one neuro-transmitter in 
the brain is reduced in people who use the drug frequently.     
They also say that the personality profiles of people who take  
ecstasy are different from those who do not - although it is not
clear whether this is an effect of the drug or a characteristic 
of people who choose to take it.                                
                                                                
Previous studies in rodents and primates have shown that        
Ecstasy, or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) selectively    
damages brain cells that contain the neuro-transmitter Serotonin
(5-HT), which is associated with mood. At last week's annual    
meeting of the society for neuro-science in Washington DC, a    
team led by Una McCann and George Ricaurte of John Hopkins      
University in Baltimore presented the results of a study
comparing 30 Ecstasy users with 28 volunteers who had never take
n the drug. The ecstasy users had taken the drug an average of  
95 times over about five years.                                 
                                                                
Analysis of the fluid drained by spinal taps revealed that the  
drug users had significantly lower levels of a marker for brain 
Serotonin function in their cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes   
the brain. There searchers are concerned that this may be       
evidence of the "Neurotoxic potential" of the drug.  In         
personality tests, the team found that the group who took       
ecstasy were less impulsive and hostile, and showed greater     
constraint and control. These are all aspects of behaviour      
thought to be mediated by serotonin. McCann points out that     
"similar 'beneficial' personality changes" have been reported by
psychiatrists who advocate using the drug therapeutically.      
                                                                
Disorders such as Depression, Sleep problems and Panic Attacks  
have been linked to an imbalance of Serotonin. However, McCann  
cautions that no one knows what the long-term effects of        
treating people with Ecstasy may be. The team from Baltimore    
hopes that research into the drugs effects might also help to   
explain the role of serotonin in normal behaviour. The          
researchers cannot know for sure whether the personalities of   
those who took ecstasy changed after taking the drug, or were   
different from the start. "People that gravitate to taking this
drug are often less hostile. In general, psychedelic drug       
abusing people are more mellow, calm, laid back," says George   
Heninger, a psychiatrist at Yale University.                    
                                                                
To show that such changes are induced by the drug, people would 
have to be given a Spinal Tap, and behavioural tests, before and
after taking the drug - "And that's hard to do since it's an    
illegal drug", says Heninger.                                   
                                                                
From "New Scientist", 2Oth November, 1993                             



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