- Ecstasy users risk serious damage to
long-term memory, researchers have established.
- Psychologists at Sunderland University
found that while cannabis damages short-term recall, Ecstasy has a devastating
effect on the long-term function.
- The findings add to fears that pills
popped by hundreds of thousands of youngsters in Britain can cause brain
damage. Alarmingly, those affected had no idea what they were doing to
their mental ability.
- Psychologists Dave Sanders and Jacqui
Rogers, from Sunderland University, ran tests on three groups of young
professional people, aged 25 to 40.
- Fifteen used Ecstasy and cannabis regularly,
15 used cannabis alone and 15 had never used any drug.
- Ecstasy users had, on average, taken
the 'rave' drug ten times during the past five years. Both groups of drug
users smoked cannabis four times a week.
- There were no differences between the
groups' ability to react quickly. But cannabis users were less likely to
be able to remember verbal and visual information accurately. And those
who also used Ecstasy showed a marked memory deficit when asked to recall
items such as a picture, sequence of numbers or short story after a short
- Significantly, they had no idea of the
damage they had sustained.
- Dr Sanders said: 'We asked them to assess
their own cognitive abilities and they thought they were fine.'
- It was 'too early' to assess the long-term
effects but he added, ominously: 'Brain cells don't regenerate.'
- Labour MP Howard Stoate, a doctor, said
yesterday: 'The more we do look into drugs the more we find very worrying
significance. 'My concern about recreational drugs is that, firstly, users
don't know the level of impurities that are in there and, secondly, we
just don't understand the long-term effects or the way individuals react
- 'Young people might think they have a
good knowledge of drugs - but they won't know all the effects because they
haven't been tested.
- 'Drugs are obviously very attractive
to some people.
- 'But these youngsters have no real appreciation
of what they might be letting themselves in for.'