I have a number of angry, male, teenage clients who use ecstasy, or thizz (which is a combination of ecstasy and PHP/cocaine/meth). I’m always on the lookout for new studies that highlight the physical, cognitive and emotional effects drugs have on people. Yesterday, I found out about a brand new study from www.ScienceDaily.com.
Ecstasy (Thizz, MDMA) Seems Prevalent in Danville, CA
‘ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2011) Long term users of the popular recreational drug ecstasy (MDMA) risk structural brain damage, suggests preliminary research published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Other research has suggested that people who use ecstasy develop significant memory problems, so the Dutch researchers wanted to find out if there was any clinical evidence of structural changes in the brain to back this up.
They focused on the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for long term memory.
They measured the volume of the hippocampus using MRI scans in 10 young men in their mid 20s who were long term users of ecstasy and seven of their healthy peers in their early 20s with no history of ecstasy use.
Although the ecstasy group had used more amphetamine and cocaine than their peers, both sets of young men had used similar amounts of recreational drugs, bar ecstasy, and drank alcohol regularly.
The ecstasy group had not been using on average for more than two months before the start of the study, but had taken an average of 281 ecstasy tablets over the preceding six and a half years.
The MRI scans showed that hippocampal volume in this group was 10.5% smaller than that of their peers, and the overall proportion of grey matter was on average 4.6% lower, after adjusting for total brain volume.
This indicates that the effects of ecstasy may not be restricted to the hippocampus alone, say the authors
“Taken together, these data provide preliminary evidence suggesting that ecstasy users may be prone to incurring hippocampal damage, following chronic use of this drug,” they write.
They add that their findings echo those of other researchers who have reported acute swelling and subsequent atrophy of hippocampal tissue in long term ecstasy users.
And they point out: “Hippocampal atrophy is a hallmark for diseases of progressive cognitive impairment in older patients, such as Alzheimer’s disease.”‘
It’s my deep-seated belief based on experience and a pretty good (really, just pretty good, memory is NOT my strength!) understanding of the literature that most substance use is a means to escape the emotional mind – feelings such as ennui, embarrassment, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, loneliness, alienation, excitement, disappointment, and heartache. One of the problems with ecstasy, or MDMA, is that it changes the way in which the brain perceives pleasure. Over time, the brain loses the ability to perceive pleasure without the addition of ecstasy. Without the ability to feel pleasure, chonic ex users lose the ability to ‘approach’ things they desire and increasingly ‘avoid discomfort.’
Lacking the ability to approach things they desire means that fulfilling activities are non-existent. So goal-setting and, more importantly, goal achievement, a major source of meaning and personal satisfaction, do not happen.
On the bright side, research has shown that the brain can recover rapidly, creating new neurons and new pathways. Changes in the brain occur every minute of every day. Your brain is always growing, developing, learning, and recreating itself!
My goal is to help you realize where you are, what you are missing (the hardest part), and to take small steps in a constructive, meaningful direction.
This is done through teaching tools such as self-forgiveness, mindfulness (sounds weak but is tremendously powerful), compassion, challenging catastrophic thinking, reframing, best possible self and more. By layering these tools one atop the other, there is a cumulative, additive effect wherby my clients become less filled with negative emotions (e.g., anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness) and more open to positive emotions (e.g., curiosity, awe, hope, courage, pride, and contentment).
All the best,
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
If you are interested in finding out more, you can download a FREE copy of John’s award-winning book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought. It is awesome! Just visit, www.GuideToSelf.com click on the picture of the yellow book on the left side of the screen and enter your name and email address in the required fields. This will also give you access to a bunch of free anger management online video classes. What could be better in this day and age of falling economies, changing breadwinner roles, and political correctness and incorrect polititicians?!
Also, be sure to check out John’s offering on the latest proven tools for anger management at http://webangermanagement.com.