I have been reading from a scientific journal recently called "The journal of psychoactive
drugs,' which is a tri-annual journal which features studies related to either the direct effect of drugs
themselves or the various societal effects. Naturally, being somewhat government funded I am healthily skeptical of the studies I choose to peruse, but one the other day stuck out to me.
It was a study of whether self-described 'long-term' users of MDMA
are more or less depressed than non-drug
using controls, polydrug users, and people who are long term users of marijuana
and nothing else. In the abstract it stated that there existed somewhere 22 studies on MDMA that were widely accepted as valid. Of course since this article, written in 2003, there is most likely a great deal more of MDMA related scientific literature.
However I digress, what was interesting was that the author claimed that among these 22 or so studies, 11 claimed long-term health effects of ecstasy
, while the other 11 claimed negligible or no long-term effects. Interestingly, a perfect split down the middle.
In this study, they questioned the subjects about their drug use (frequency, intensity, etc.) and then had them fill out a standardized test, a clinical measure of relative depression ( I forget exactly which test this was) The results were that the self-reported long-term ecstasy users were indeed slightly more depressed than the control-group non-drug users, but NOT more depressed than the marijuana or poly-drug users. Of course the researchers did not dare extrapolate on these findings or even on what they really meant, they just suggested possible future avenues of research based on these results.
An interesting finding, to say the least. Perhaps the excessive activation of the dopaminergic reward system so oft cited as the targeted area of brain damage in drug use is just as much depleted by the long-term use of marijuana as it is in ecstasy or other drugs. It seems counterintuitive considering the relative percentage of activation is much different, 300% in marijuana as opposed to...I forget exactly what number in ecstasy use, but it is higher than that. Of course this is totally ignoring the possible effects on other neurotransmitter
systems like serotonin
and it's related receptors, which obviously are affected by ecstasy use.