Ecstasy Use by Humans
In recent years the recreational use of Methamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy) had risen greatly. It has been linked to the "rave" lifestyle. Ravers use the drug to heighten their experience while partying and dancing to electronic music. Persons outside of the rave scene who enjoy the euphoria the drug produces also employ it. Because of this Methylenedioxymetamphetamine is currently one of the most popular drugs in the Western world. Clearly research on the effects of this drug is needed to guard against uneducated use by the masses, which may have disastrous consequences.
Oral administration of MDMA results in a massive increase of extra cellular serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which will increase feelings of happiness and euphoria. This increase in available serotonin produces what is generally described as an extremely enjoyable high. But what are the consequences? Does one have the ability to recover from this surge of serotonin, or are MDMA users asking for the depression that is generally associated with low serotonin levels?
The objective of the article entitled "Electrophysiological Evidence of Serotonergic Impairment in Long-Term MDMA ('Ecstasy') Users," is to report findings on experiments completed to determine if Methamphetamine (MDMA) use causes long-term impairment to the serotonin (5-HT) system of rats (2-4), dogs, and non-human primates. (5-7). This evidence is coupled with observation of 5-HT impairment in human recreational users of MDMA. The evidence presented in this article shows whether or not this 5-HT dysfunction in human users was caused by the users' use of ecstasy. The research was undertaken because there is ambiguity about causation. Does ecstasy use impair serotonergic function, or are those with such dysfunction more prone to use MDMA?
A series of related experiments were undertaken by Rodney J. Croft, Ph.D. Anthony Klugman, M.D., Torsten Baldeweg, M.D and John H. Gruzelier, Ph.D. the authors of the aforementioned article. Their findings were published in The American Journal of Psychology, issue # 158, volume 10, in October of 2001. (1) In their experiment 22 long-term MDMA users, 19 long-term cannabis users, and 20 drug-naïve comparison subjects were evaluated in an attempt to determine the effect MDMA use has on serotonergic function in humans.
In order to acquire the necessary data measurements were made with EEGs (electroencelphalagrams,) to measure brain activity in the frontal cortex where serotonin is very important. EOGs (electrooculograms) were used to measure eye movements. These movements were calculated as the difference between voltages above and below the left-eye.
In order to measure the serotonin an auditory intensity dependence function was employed. 5-HT in the primary auditory cortex (the part of the brain used to process sound stimulus) is thought to operate as a protective mechanism by attenuating cortical response to loud...