Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Ecstasy Affects Impulsivity and Decision Making

Though many have viewed the use of Ecstasy, or 3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), as harmless due to its “feel good” effects on the user, research has come out demonstrating that it is in fact exceedingly damaging to cognitive ability. Additionally, impulse control was also negatively impacted by use of the drug, and decision-making abilities specifically were impaired.

The problems with cognitive performance may continue even after cessation of long-term use, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. In this study, researchers found that sleep deprivation may be an issue connected to Ecstasy use, which in turn can continue the impairment of cognitive function even after the user is abstinent from use of the drug.

If you are concerned that your son is abusing drugs like Ecstasy, don’t wait to intervene. Here at Muir Wood, we offer an intensive program focused on helping teen boys transition from active drug use to abstinence. Call now to learn more.

Scientific Evidence

A study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology that explored the neurotoxicity of Ecstasy as it affected decision-making cognition and impulsivity specifically. All participants were drug-free but divided into three groups:

  • Former heavy users of MDMA
  • Former users of marijuana
  • “Drug-naïve” control group

All three groups were measured for their ability to manage impulses through the Matching Familiar Figures Test and the Go/No-Go Task and for their executive functioning abilities through a Gambling Task.

Former heavy users of MDMA exhibited elevated impulsivity and impaired decision-making cognition, according to the study results, providing evidence that use of the drug even after cessation of use can be hugely problematic in these areas.

Ecstasy Is Not Harmless

Unfortunately, teens who abuse Ecstasy find that the negative consequences of abusing this club drug can create problems in every part of their life due to its effect on impulsivity and decision-making cognition, including:

  • Relationships. With friends and family alike, teens who abuse drugs like Ecstasy find it difficult to maintain positive relationships, often struggling to maintain the rules at home or hold onto friendships with non-drug-using friends.
  • Academic performance. Impulsivity can make it difficult to sit in class, do homework, and pay attention, all of which usually translates into lowered grades and behavioral problems at school.
  • Acute emergency. It’s not uncommon for users of Ecstasy to overdose, especially when they combine the drug with use of other substances. Others get dehydrated and experience a medical emergency and even brain damage. Still others ultimately find themselves in dangerous situations because they are under the influence – getting in the car with someone who is too impaired to drive, driving themselves, or experiencing an accident.
  • Opportunities for the future. When drug use becomes an issue early on, teens limit themselves. Without focus on their academic performance, education opportunities fall away. Many find that they are unable to maintain a job as well, and still others develop an addiction problem that becomes a lifelong issue.

Helping Your Teen Heal

Parents can play an active part in helping their teens to avoid the negative consequences of continued drug abuse. Paying attention in order to recognize when drug abuse occurs and taking immediate action is key.

At Muir Wood, we can help. We provide an evidence-based treatment program solely for teens that can help your son overcome drug abuse and learn new ways to manage behavioral impulses. Call now or download an application packet today.

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