The impact of ecstasy on the brain
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The Impact of Ecstasy on the Brain. By Joyce Tse Sociology Major UC Santa Barbara. Topics for Discussion. What is Ecstasy? What is serotonin? Normal brain functions Ecstasy influenced brain functions Short-term side effects Long-term side effects. Importance of the Research.

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The Impact of Ecstasy on the Brain

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The impact of ecstasy on the brain

The Impact of Ecstasyon the Brain

By Joyce Tse

Sociology Major

UC Santa Barbara


Topics for discussion

Topics for Discussion

  • What is Ecstasy?

  • What is serotonin?

  • Normal brain functions

  • Ecstasy influenced brain functions

  • Short-term side effects

  • Long-term side effects


Importance of the research

Importance of the Research

  • Allows medical personnel to make educated decisions about treatment.

  • Teaches us more about the brain and its functions.

  • Allows the public to consider short-term and long-term risks of taking the drug.


What is ecstasy

What is Ecstasy?

  • Works similar to anti-depressant drugs (Paxil and Prozac).

  • Average dose is 50-175 mg, taken in pill form.

  • Induces feelings of energy, empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensitivity to touch.

Figure 1. Different brands of Ecstasy pills

[Erowid, 2000].


Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that regulates

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that regulates…

  • emotion

  • sleep

  • memory

  • pain

  • appetite

  • higher order cognitive processes

    *Higher levels of serotonin leads to more positive feelings.


Normal brain functions

Normal Brain Functions

  • Neurons conduct electrochemical impulses (signal) that trigger the release of serotonin.

  • Serotonin is released into the synapse.

  • Some serotonin is absorbed by the adjacent neuron.

  • Some is reabsorbed by the neuron which released it.

Figure 2. Normal release and reuptake

process [Cloud, 2000].


Ecstasy influenced brain functions

Ecstasy Influenced Brain Functions

  • No signal is needed to trigger a release of serotonin.

  • All storages of serotonin are released at once - the synapse if flooded.

  • No reuptake occurs-adjacent neurons absorb all serotonin.

  • Similar to the functioning of SSRIs (anti-depressants): release with no reuptaking.

Figure 3. Ecstasy induced release

with no reuptake [Cloud,

2000].


Short term side effects

Most commonly documented:

Overheating (up to 110F)

Dehydration

Extreme opposite: hyponatraemia

Depression

Additional possible side effects:

Nausea

Panic or Anxiety

Teeth-grinding

Muscle-cramping

Headache

Paranoia and hallucinations

Irrational behavior (even violence)

Convulsions, heart attack, or death

Short-term side effects


Long term side effects

Long-term side effects

  • Damage to Axons

    • Grow back abnormally and can no longer send messages to far reaches of the brain.

  • Behavioral Changes in…

    • Memory

    • Attention span

    • Possible increased impulsiveness

Figure 4. Comparison drawing of a

normal nerve, damaged nerve,

and a damaged nerve after

recovery [Cloud, 2000].


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • Numerous short-term and long-term side effects occur when taking Ecstasy.

  • Lacing or substitution in pills make it difficult to predict which effects may occur.

  • Further studies must be conducted to understand the lasting effects the drugs has on the mind and body.


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