Ecstasy is a drug from the amphetamine family that’s particularly popular among young adults. Extensive research over the years has shown its negative effects on the human brain. But can ecstasy cause memory loss, too? According to one recent study, it can.
A Short History of Ecstasy
Ecstasy has been around for a whole century. During the First World War, German soldiers used it as an appetite suppressant. A few decades later, it found use in couples’ therapy. But ecstasy that we know today gained popularity in the 1980s as a “happy drug.” Its primary users were young people aged 16-30 who attended rave parties.
Since then, people have started using it outside of the party scene, too. In its pure form, ecstasy makes people feel euphoric and ecstatic. Coupled with Tylenol or caffeine, it also makes them feel energetic. As such, students also use it to stay awake and alert throughout the night.
What Ecstasy Does to Your Brain
To achieve its effects, ecstasy impacts the cells in your brain that transmit serotonin. This hormone is essential to many processes in your body, including your cognitive function. And this brings us back to the initial question: can ecstasy cause memory loss?
A 2012 study observed a group of young people who had just started using ecstasy. To reduce the number of potentially confounding variables, none of them had any preexisting memory problems. After the subjects had taken the drug for up to 10 times within a year, the authors put their memory function to test.
According to the results, only ten uses of the drug were enough to impair their ability to remember things. The authors concluded that the drug had a direct effect on their hippocampus, the section of the brain in charge of memorizing things. Interestingly, they couldn’t find any other similar effect of the drug on the participants’ brain function.
So, can ecstasy cause memory loss? This study shows that it can. What’s more, the scientists have also noticed that even recreational users can experience these effects. But there’s still need for further research into how this drug affects the cognitive function in humans.
Also, some of the people who took part in the study have since stopped using the drug. Further research will thus also show if this is enough to restore their brain function.