UK news source The Guardian recently reported on a study conducted by the US National Institute for Drug Abuse has concluded that....
Drum Roll Please
"Ecstasy does not wreck the mind, study claims
Previous research was flawed, say experts, but findings will shock those who campaign against the drug's use"
You heard right ladies and gentlemen. The old horror stories of a single tablet of ecstasy being the equivalent of removing ice cream sized scoops of brain matter out of your head are lies!
The US NIDA study, which was funded by a $1.8 million federal grant, is the first attempt at ascertaining the true honest effects of ecstasy. Previous studies, which have cast a stigma upon the drug and its users since the drug was first made a Schedule 1 drug in the states in 1985, were all biased against MDMA before they even got up and running.
As you may or may not already know, it is a rarity in the rave culture, where ecstasy remains very popular despite prohibition, for users to limit their experimentation to just MDMA. Therein hides one of the causes of the discrepancy between this most recent study and those conducted in the past. Most previous studies failed to find users who had just sampled MDMA, instead using anyone who had tried the drug in their small and ill-represented sample populations. This meant that all the tests conducted on the cognitive capabilities of the subjects were not only testing for the adverse effects of MDMA, but also whatever else the subjects were recreationally consuming.
As a quick aside, some of you may be wondering how the NIDA was able to locate a large enough sample of people who had been exposed to ecstasy without being exposed to other popular street drugs. I don't know about the rest of you, but I sure don't know too many e-tards that aren't also at least heavy drinkers or smokers. I had to do a little digging on this one, but this study from 2005 talks about just this problem. Apparently, the sole use of ecstasy without being contaminated by the effects of other recreational drugs is popular, or at least more prevalent, among Mormon youth in the Salt Lake City area. Who woulda thunk it? Apparently once they hit 18 and leave home they start popping pills like Pac-Man, while still somehow retaining their aversion to other substances like alcohol and marijuana.
The second major problem with the structure of previous studies is the disparity between the subjects who had taken the drug and those that were being used as a control sample. As ecstasy is so popular in the rave and dance culture, many of the people tested as users of the drug were taken out of that sample population. However, to find a control sample who had not experienced the effects of the drug, those conducting the study felt it acceptable to take a sample group from people who had not been involved in the scene.
Beyond use of ecstasy and other drugs, the rave culture is known for promoting all night dance parties, in which sleep deprivation and dehydration are common ailments. So while the sample group which had been using MDMA had been afflicted by these complications, those who were taken as the control sample were not, giving the appearance that the drug itself was causing much more drastic and debilitating damage than it actually was.
The Guardian article concludes with a warning that ecstasy is still considered dangerous, if only because of questionable quality of street drugs, and the unknown variables of possible contaminants. So my recommendation? If you're into that whole dance/rave thing, get on down to Miami next month and try and find a ticket. Cover yourself in Glowsticks and grind your jaw into non-existence while your eyes roll back in your skull. Just make sure you bring a tester kit with you so you know you're getting that "good shit". Or, if you're not into the whole techno "untz-untz-untz" crap, I've always been a fan of seedy hotel rooms and hookers. Still might wanna bring that tester kit, though.
In conclusion, I have but one thing to say:
Three cheers for honest scientific studies!