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Years of Animal Research Proves MDMA ("Ecstasy") Can Damage Neurons; MDMA's Effects on the Human Brain Are Being Studied

NIDA Director Nora Volkow

April 2004

Myths abound about the short-term and long-term consequences of use of MDMA, often called Ecstasy. MDMA is not new to the scientific community. Over 15 years of research conducted on animals has proven that MDMA damages specific neurons in the brain. Because of the difficulties of conducting similar research in humans, conclusive evidence of neurotoxicity in humans has not yet been established. However, a variety of studies have shown that some chronic, heavy users of MDMA have cognitive deficits.

As the director of a public health agency, my priority is the public's health and my responsibility is to share accurate and timely information about drugs of abuse. There is still much we do not know about the effects of MDMA in humans; however, given what we do know from studies of MDMA in animals, we conclude that MDMA is not a benign drug and has the potential for serious, adverse effects.

Sincerely,

Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director

This page was last updated April 2004

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