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‘Shopping on Ecstasy’: everyday memory loss associated with persistent ecstasy use


Persistent use of ecstasy leads to a loss of everyday memory, researchers from Northumbria University have discovered. For the study 23 regular users of ecstasy were compared to 30 people who had never used the drug.

They were then asked to complete a questionnaire to assess long and short-term aspects of memory for future events such as remembering to meet with friends, posting a letter or switching off lights. They were also asked to take part in a video-based (objective) memory task involving a shopping scenario where they had to remember to buy certain items when they reached particular shops.

The results of the study revealed that the ecstasy users reported an average of 29 per cent more memory-related problems and remembered to buy an average of 25 per cent less items when they reached particular shops, than non-users. This was found after controlling for other drug-use and mood.

Dr Tom Heffernan, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology who led the study, said: “We think ecstasy could affect certain parts of the brain directly or interrupt the transmitters that send messages around the brain.’’

He added: “This is the first time an objective, video-based piece of research has been used with ecstasy users in relation to everyday memory and the findings are, therefore, that much more significant than just relying upon their own accounts of how bad their memory might be.”

The research findings were presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference last month.

Katrina Alnikizil | alfa
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