- Long-term neuropsychological effects of ecstasy in middle-aged ecstasy/polydrug users
- Volume | Issue number
- 207 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Studies reporting ecstasy-induced serotonin-toxicity and (neuro)psychological dysfunctions have been conducted in young adults. Little is known about ecstasy effects later in life, when serotonin levels and cognition decrease as a consequence of normal ageing.
This study aimed to assess whether harmful effects of ecstasy only add to or also interact with age-related neuropsychological decline.
Attention, verbal and visual memory, visuospatial ability, self-reported depression, sensation-seeking and impulsivity were assessed in middle-aged moderate to heavy ecstasy/polydrug users (n = 17) and compared with none or very mild ecstasy using polydrug users (matched for age, gender, intelligence and other drugs; n = 16) and a group of drug-naive controls (n = 20).
Moderate to heavy ecstasy/polydrug users performed significantly worse on a verbal memory task than none or very mild ecstasy using polydrug users and drug naives. Moderate and heavy ecstasy/polydrug users also differed significantly from drug-naives on measures of depression, sensation-seeking and impulsivity but not from none or very mild ecstasy-using polydrug users.
This study in middle-aged ecstasy/polydrug users replicated findings of studies in younger ecstasy users, showing a harmful effect of ecstasy on verbal memory. There was no clear support for an interaction between harmful effects of ecstasy use and age-related memory decline or mid-life depression.
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