Ecstasy: The Rave Drug that Doesn’t Earn Raves

Ecstasy (MDMA) is a powerful drug that creates a feeling of mental stimulation, emotional warmth, closeness and a sense of well being. Unfortunately, that initial reaction is misleading. Ecstasy also causes increased anxiety, restlessness, irritability, impulsivity, sadness, sleep problems, nausea, cramping, high blood pressure, and dehydration.

A recent study (“A prospective study of learning, memory, and executive function in new MDMA users”, Daniel Wagner, Benjamin Becker, Philip Koester, Euphrosyne Gouzoulis-Mayfrank & Joerg Daumann Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany) investigated the nature of cognitive deficits noted in ecstasy users. It found that there were significant effects on specific immediate and delayed recall for those who took recreational amounts of the drug over the course of one year.

While it is important to note the potential dangers of ecstasy to long and short term cognitive functioning, its more immediate dangers need to be highlighted. Usually taken in the context of dance clubs or raves, most users mix ecstasy with other substances including alcohol amphetamines, cocaine, and cannabis. These combinations are dangerous medically and also contribute to high risk behaviors. MDMA has become popular with urban gay males. Reports have linked the use of ecstasy to high risk sexual behaviors that may lead to HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Lastly, over 43 percent of those who reported ecstasy use met the criteria for dependence upon the drug.

All of this taken together leaves one with a very clear conclusion. The use of ecstasy is dangerous even if done occasionally. Those who find themselves caught up in a pattern of regular use should seek drug abuse treatment to minimize the potential long term consequences of any addictive disorder.

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