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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 01:33 GMT 02:33 UK
Ecstasy users damaging their memories
Ecstasy tablets
Ecstasy damages the memory
Ecstasy users are damaging their memories, say scientists.

Research found that people who had taken the drug over long periods of time found it difficult to remember the simplest of tasks.

Dr Tom Hefferman and Dr Andrew Scholey, from the University of Northumbria and Dr Jonathan Ling, from the University of Teeside tested the memories of 40 people who took ecstasy 10 times a month, and 39 non-users.

They specifically measured three types of memory loss.


Regular use can have a very damaging effect on your cognitive health

Dr Tom Hefferman, from the University of Northumbria

They looked at short-term "habitual" memory - things like forgetting to turn off the alarm clock in the mornings.

Long term "episodic" memory such as forgetting to pass on messages and "internally-cued" memory - forgetting what you have come into a room to say or do.

Memory loss

Even after taking into account any use of other drugs and memory aides, the regular ecstasy sufferers fared worse.

Dr Hefferman and his colleagues told the British Psychological Society they believe the drug could be linked to damage in the areas of the brain that deal with planning and remembering daily activities.

Dr Hefferman said this worrying research highlights the fact that so called "soft drugs" could have damaging health effects.

"There is a belief that soft drugs - which many consider ecstasy to be - should be legalised when in fact research, including our own, suggests that regular use can have a very damaging effect on your cognitive health."

A spokesman from the drug and alcohol treatment agency Addaction said: "The dangers of all drugs and their effects on the mind need to be constantly emphasised, particularly to that younger age group involved in the club scene and who are tempted to experiment with drugs."

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See also:

18 Dec 00 | Health
Ecstasy brain damage link
24 Jun 00 | Health
Ecstasy 'ruins body clock'
14 May 00 | Health
Ecstasy 'damages memory'
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