Executive function in abstinent
MDMA ('ecstasy') users

Zakzanis KK, Young DA.
Division of Life Sciences,
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Med Sci Monit 2001 Nov-Dec;7(6):1292-8


BACKGROUND: Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or 'Ecstasy') is a growingly popular recreational drug of abuse that is known to damage brain serotonergic neurons in animals and possibly humans. Few functional consequences of MDMA-induced serotonin neurotoxicity have been identified, either in animals or humans. This study sought to determine whether individuals with a history of MDMA use showed evidence of executive dysfunction.MATERIAL AND METHODS: Two groups of young individuals were compared: 24 abstinent MDMA users who had taken MDMA at least once and 24 controls who had never taken MDMA. Each MDMA user completed a questionnaire regarding the characteristics of their MDMA use and all participants completed a questionnaire regarding other recreational drug experience. The Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS) was used to measure executive function in all participants.RESULTS: Evidence of impairment was found on two subtests of the BADS and in terms of a Total Profile Score. In addition, several significant product moment correlations were found suggesting that increases in MDMA consumption may relate to more pronounced impairment in executive function.CONCLUSIONS: Accordingly, MDMA use may be associated with deficits in executive function.

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