Club Drugs (cont.)
MDMA (ecstasy) and brain changes. This image shows the brain scans of a person who has never used MDMA (top) compared with scans of a person who used MDMA for an extended period of time up until three weeks before the images were taken. Specifically, the scans show the brain's ability to transport a neurotransmitter called serotonin from the synapse back into the releasing neuron (the brighter colors). Serotonin is fundamental to the brain's ability to handle information and express emotion. Such findings are leading researchers to conclude that an ecstasy user may be at risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with learning and memory. Image courtesy of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Click to view larger image.
Long-term effects of drug abuse. This brain scan shows that once you become addicted to a drug like cocaine, your brain is affected (and clearly changed) for a long time. The yellow shows a lot of brain activity in a normal person. Measured 10 days after using cocaine, a cocaine addict's brain shows much less normal activity. For this same person, even after 100 days without using cocaine, the brain was still not back to a normal level of functioning. Scientists are concerned that areas in the brain may never fully recover from drug abuse and addiction. Image courtesy of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).Click to view larger image.
Long-term effects of ecstasy. This image shows sections taken from the neocortex (part of the brain) of monkeys that were given Ecstasy twice a day for four days (control monkeys were given saline). The section on the left, taken from the brain of a control monkey who was not given Ecstasy, shows the presence of a high level of serotonin. The middle section shows a section from a monkey two weeks after receiving Ecstasy. Most of the serotonin is gone. The section on the right shows a section from a monkey seven years after receiving Ecstasy. Although there has been some recovery of serotonin, the brain has still not returned to normal. Ecstasy interacts with specific targets in the brain. After repeated or long-term use, the neurons in the brain may not communicate with each other and might affect a user's mood, behavior, and memory. Image courtesy of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).Click to view larger image.
Medically reviewed by Marina Katz, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/24/2015
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