Author(s): Downey LA, Sands H, Jones L, Clow A, Evans P,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: The goals of this study were to measure the neurocognitive performance of recent users of recreational Ecstasy and investigate whether it was associated with the stress hormone cortisol. METHODS: The 101 participants included 27 recent light users of Ecstasy (one to four times in the last 3 months), 23 recent heavier Ecstasy users (five or more times) and 51 non-users. Rivermead paragraph recall provided an objective measure for immediate and delayed recall. The prospective and retrospective memory questionnaire provided a subjective index of memory deficits. Cortisol levels were taken from near-scalp 3-month hair samples. RESULTS: Cortisol was significantly raised in recent heavy Ecstasy users compared with controls, whereas hair cortisol in light Ecstasy users was not raised. Both Ecstasy groups were significantly impaired on the Rivermead delayed word recall, and both groups reported significantly more retrospective and prospective memory problems. Stepwise regression confirmed that lifetime Ecstasy predicted the extent of these memory deficits. CONCLUSIONS: Recreational Ecstasy is associated with increased levels of the bio-energetic stress hormone cortisol and significant memory impairments. No significant relationship between cortisol and the cognitive deficits was observed. Ecstasy users did display evidence of a metacognitive deficit, with the strength of the correlations between objective and subjective memory performances being significantly lower in the Ecstasy users. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in Hum Psychopharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy