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'Ecstasy' May Cause Long-Term Changes in Brain Chemistry
Date:12/13/2011

this work raises serious concerns and questions, but more research is needed."

Michael Mithoefer, a clinical researcher in the field of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, stressed "the importance of not jumping to conclusions."

"You have to be careful with research like this," Mithoefer cautioned. "There have been some other similar studies suggesting the possibility of some long-term changes with ecstasy use. But the problem with retrospective studies based on self-report is that there are other factors at play that might not be accounted for. Did these people take other drugs at the same time? Was it really MDMA that they took? Exactly how much did they take? What really was the dose taken? That kind of thing can become very unclear when you're asking people to remember past behavior," he explained.

"It's also the case that in clinical research conducted with a few different doses of pure MDMA we have no found evidence of these kinds of problems," noted Mithoefer.

"I do, however, think it's important that people not think that MDMA is without risk," he added. "Especially with recreational use in an uncontrolled setting. Whether that will lead to mental health issues or not is unclear. But it is certainly something that bears further study."

More information

For more on ecstasy, visit the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCES: Ronald L. Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, psychiatry, department of psychiatry, school of medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.; Michael Mithoefer, M.D., psychiatrist, private practice, Charleston, S.C.; Dec. 5, 2011, Archives of General Psychiatry, online


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