Popular Drug Ecstasy Not Harmless Like Many Users Think
If people who use ecstasy experience a massive release of serotonin, followed by substantially lower serotonin levels long-term, that would explain both the feelings of well-being they experience while using the drug, and the long-term depression, anxiety, and other symptoms they experience once it wears off.
Recent studies of people who use ecstasy also suggest its use leads to the loss of reasoning ability and memory. In addition to lowering serotonin levels, it appears to permanently damage the brain cells that produce and use serotonin.
"There is now a large body of data, mostly in animals but also in humans, indicating [ecstasy] is highly toxic to brain serotonin cells," says George A. Ricaurte, MD, PhD. "The study by Kish is very important because it shows these changes in brain cells occurring at dosage levels actually used by humans." Ricaurte is associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The emerging data on the dangers of ecstasy mean parents really need to open a discussion about drugs with their children, Clark says. Too often, parents assume drug problems only apply to other people's children. "You need to talk with them about drugs and alcohol," Clark says. "While most don't use drugs, a substantial number do."