Ecstasy side-effects take
six years to show through
May 4 2006
By Sam Lister, Daily Post (UK)
full side-effects of using ecstasy take six years to
develop, according to a new study by north-west academics.
Researchers at Edge Hill
College, Ormskirk, found changes in users' mental state,
such as depression, only emerged after long-term use.
Dr Philip Murphy, one of the
leading scientists on the project which surveyed hundreds of
ecstasy users over four years, said the study had challenged
some existing views on drug taking.
He said: "It has become apparent
that many regular ecstasy users engage in a tradeoff with
regard to the positive and negative effects of the drug.
"For example, depression in the
come-down period after use is weighed against the immediate
pleasure that its use brings.
"The negative effects of using
ecstasy start to take their toll almost immediately but it
is not until much, much later that users will notice
significant changes to their mental state.
"Only people who had used the
drug for less than three years reported that the positive
effects clearly outweighed the negative effects, indicating
an apparent 'honeymoon period' of enjoyment. "Many users
continued to take the drug because the negative consequences
were not immediately apparent.
"But we were able to project
that sustained use would lead to a situation eventually
where users became almost immune to the positive effects of
ecstasy while the negative effects on their brain reached
their highest point."
Merseyside schoolgirl Siobhan
Delaney died from taking ecstasy after a night out at a city
centre club last year. The 18-year-old, who is thought to
have drunk 10 bottles of water after taking the drug, fell
into a coma and never recovered.
It is hoped the new research
will help drugs workers get the message about the dangers of
ecstasy use to young people.
Nick Evans, from Addaction,
Liverpool's drug and alcohol treatment service for young
people, said: "We educate young people about the long-term
affects of drug use and research like this can help us get
across that the choices they make today can affect them in
"There are a lot a mis-messages
about ecstasy. People often think it is harmless, when in
fact it can be very dangerous.
"This adds weight to the
Dr Murphy insists the latest
findings could also lead to a major breakthrough in treating
addicts and said the study was as much about understanding
the psychology of users as it was assessing the risks.
He added: "There is much
evidence to suggest a link between ecstasy use and deficits
in memory and other cognitive processes. But we were
interested in understanding the mind-set of the people who
"Most of them are aware of the
risks but chose to take the drug after balancing up how it
will make them feel in the short term against the long-term
"We now have a greater
understanding of the mentality of ecstasy users and this can
only help as we seek ways of treating addicts."
The study will be published in
the May issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.