May Leave Brain More Prone To Infection
New research shows ecstasy may leave the brain more
susceptible to infection and the damage may be permanent.
Angela was 15 when she first tried ecstasy and soon she was
doing it every week.
"Everyone always told me it would put holes in your brain
and I just ignored them," said Angela, who is now 21. "I was
like, 'Whatever, I'm not doing it that much.'"
In experiments done on rats, researchers from Boston
University Medical School discovered that ecstasy damages
the blood brain barrier, which is the group of tightly
packed cells which surround and protect the brain.
"What they are saying in this study is that ecstasy
essentially breaks down that protection," said Dr. Robert
Margolis, executive director of Solutions Counseling, an
adolescent addiction treatment center in Atlanta, Ga. "(It)
makes that blood brain barrier more porous, the openings
between those cells larger, and (it) makes your brain more
vulnerable to having things that you don't want in your
brain like infections and germs and bacteria."
And now, for all those who took ecstasy at parties or dance
clubs, there is a question: Has the drug damaged the barrier
that protects their brain?
"The thing that I think you will start to see is looking at
long-term epidemiological studies where they start to at
least try to find out if ecstasy users have more brain
infections (or) have more strokes," Margolis said.
He said there's a chance the damage will be permanent.
"You do not want to do anything that is going to damage your
brain because that is one area of your body that does not
regenerate," he adds. "It does not fix itself."
Angela and her mom, Peggy, are worried.
"I hope that it doesn't pan out to be that serious because I
want her to have a normal brain and be able to function in
life," Peggy said. "But you know, sometimes we don't get
second chances. If she blew this without knowing what would
happen on down the line then that's a sad thing."
"Now I have paranoia … that I might have something wrong
with me later down the road and I don't want to have to deal
with that," Angela said. "I mean, I want to be there for my
children, I want to be there for my family. I want to be
able to have a regular life now, and it wasn't worth it."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ecstasy
use is going down. More high school students say they know
about ecstasy's harmful effects.