back to article Ecstasy doesn't make rave-goers any stupider - official

Using ecstasy appears to have no effects on "cognitive performance", according to a new study which controls for other factors such as repeated sleep deprivation, dehydration and the possibility of being drunk or drugged while taking intelligence tests. "Researchers have known for a long time that earlier studies of ecstasy …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wow..

    Researchers don't know their arse from their elbows.. shocker!!!

  2. fixit_f
    Thumb Up

    All probably true

    It has pretty serious effects on cognitive function the day after you take it though :-)

    1. stim

      to fixit..

      i agree - and whilst you're on it! ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      titles

      not if you get stuff that isnt cut!

      The pure stuff returns you to normality pretty painlessly, if your having a horrendous comedown then youve been taking something else, or its cut with something nasty.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    argument for legalising controled substances?

    ""No," says Halpern, bluntly. "Ecstasy consumption is dangerous: illegally-made pills can contain harmful contaminants, there are no warning labels, there is no medical supervision, and in rare cases people are physically harmed and even die from overdosing."

    So the argument is that a properly liscensed and manufactured drugs are safe(?), and the others are dangerous

    Isn't that an argument for liscensing the drug and then taxing the sales?

    (?) is due to the number of people killed and harmed by liscensed medications each year.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Bah

      Bah you beat me to it.

      That does seem to be the main thrust of the report.

      Ecstasy is bad only when it contains a load of other illegal toxic shit.

      Ah, and it can be dangerous if you overdose? Well the same could be said of Paracetemol, which is available legally from any chemist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        RE: Bah

        "Ecstasy is bad only when it contains a load of other illegal toxic shit."

        The indepenant papers i've read on research in this area would conclude that this is true for most proscribed drugs(*)(**).

        The prescribed drugs also have the same problem, hence why the NHS and drug companies are a bit manic about trying to prevent fraudlement meds entering the UK distribution chain. variable strength medication can cause a lot of harm, even if the counterfitter didn't cut it with crap.

        *= this is most definately not the case where the brain is still developing

        **=we are still lacking good robust long term studies on the most common illegal drugs, and there are ethical issues in asking a bunch of non-drug users to start taking clean, regulated drugs just so we can base line a long term study and rule out damage caused by crap that an existing user may have taken previously.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          really?

          Sign me up.

          I've got a laundry list of drugs that I'd like to do if/when it becomes penally feasible.

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: really?

            You could work out the statistical likelihood of you getting arrested for doing any of those, and then the likelihood of you going to prison if you did. And then you could do them. (It is fairly vanishingly unlikely, I would suggest.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Up

              In Australia....

              We have a lot of alcoholic journalists.. who report on such things.

              Munch Munch Munch...

    2. Dale Richards
      Go

      Legalise Ecstacy

      Sounds to me like that's exactly the point Dr Halpern is trying to make.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know some pretty longterm heavy users and they're mentally fine

    they do all look about a million years old, mind you

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge
      Happy

      Oh!

      Mentally fine, looks a million years old - shit, I need to get some E's inside me. I knew there was something missing, must have been the acid wrecking my brain.

      Smiley face - what else?

    2. Ian 31
      Happy

      That'll be the sleep deprivation.

      It can really fuck you up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Obviously your body needs more sleep, more regularly than mine.

        It's 2:18 am, and I'm working on my 2nd day. I'll probably be up until friday night, my only problem is that the longer I'm up, the less I actually feel about going to bed, and the more I smoke.

  5. David Simpson 1
    Coat

    ;-O

    "No," says Halpern, bluntly. "Ecstasy consumption is dangerous: illegally-made pills can contain harmful contaminants, there are no warning labels, there is no medical supervision, and in rare cases people are physically harmed and even die from overdosing."

    I love it when people come off with comments like that, it's a perfect argument for legalisation and regulated manufacture. I popped pills for ten years through out the 90s then got an education and now run my own business, have yet to find any swiss cheese holes through my brain.

  6. CraigRoberts
    Thumb Down

    Waste of money...

    Why bother doing scientific tests on these substances? The Government is never going to legalise them or anything. Remember the hoo-ha over the David Nutt cannabis row?

    Until the powers that be start listening to the experts instead of the Daily Mail/Middle England etc then all of this is a complete waste of time and money... Of course now the head of the Drug Council is a God Botherer who thinks that homosexuality can be cured through prayer... Ugh...

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Waste of money...

      No, he's not, they fired him.

      1. CraigRoberts

        Re: Waste of money...

        I stand corrected... And slightly happier than I was... :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Waste of money...

      I broadly agree with the sentiments you express, however;

      >the head of the Drug Council

      Professor Les Iversen is the chair of the ACMD.

      As I understand it, the raging God-Botherer was Dr Hans-Christian Raabe.

      The appointment to the ACMD of Dr Raabe, a GP from Manchester, was announced on 19/01/2011.

      On 06/02/2011 Dr Raabe was reportedly advised by the Home Office that his services would not be required, ostensibly because he "Had failed to disclose being co-author of a study suggesting a link between homosexuality and paedophilia."

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2011/02/why_was_dr_raabe_sacked.html

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1354325/Christian-drug-expert-Hans-Christian-Raabe-sacked-Government-advisory-panel.html#ixzz1DFnt4NgT

      1. CraigRoberts
        Thumb Up

        Thanks... :)

        I'd managed to miss that some how...

    3. Mark Scorah

      the god botherer

      was sacked before he even started, and he wasn't the head anyway, he was the GP amongst the mix of people which it is meant to be made up.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not everyone obeys the government

      Some people take illegal drugs. In case you hadn't noticed. So this research could be useful for such persons in determining which drugs if any, they want to take.

  7. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Small samples and statistics

    The final sample numbers are so small that a difference in IQ of, say, 5 points might be a statistical fluctuation or a genuine effect. So Dr Halpern's analysis shows only that there is no gross difference.

    The average individual IQ is 100 with a standard deviation of 15. So in a sample of 55 people, the average will be 100 and the standard deviation 15/sqrt(55), or about 2. The difference between the means of two sets of 55 will have a standard deviation of about 3. So an measured difference of 5 would be only 1.6 times the standard deviation, which can occur with a probability of about 11 percent.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So ....

    First research showed that people who took ecstasy at raves became stupider than a control group of people who didn't.

    Second research challenges conclusion that the cause is ecstasy and shows that people for take ecstasy at raves show no signs of becoming stupider than people who go to raves and don't take ecstasy.

    So, combining these two pieces of research we get equations for the SQ (stupidity quotient)

    SQ(raves + no ecstasy) = SQ(raves + ecstasy)

    SQ(raves + ecstasy) > SQ(no raves)

    so elimintating ecstasy which is deemed to have no effect we get

    SQ(raves) > SQ(no raves)

    i.e. going to raves makes you stupider. (Anyone got the phone number of the Daily Mail ... I think I've a story for them)

  9. Andy Farley
    Paris Hilton

    Die from overdosing?

    Never heard of anyone who's overdosed from Ecstasy.

    Died from heat prostration or drinking too much water, yes. Overdose, no.

    Legalise, tax, educate. Not hard is it?

    Imagine the tax bonanza from it? Let us party our way out of debt.

    Paris because - well, if you've had an E you know.

    1. Alpha Tony

      @Andy Farley

      I'm sure there used to be a hard house DJ called Andy Farley...

      Did you retire and go into sysadmin? ;)

  10. Thomas 18

    Comedown?

    Want to avoid a hangover, drink plenty of water before you go to sleep

    Want to avoid a comedown, take more ecstasy the next day

    anyone not see a problem with that? but then again we've never banned methylated spirits because homeless folks would drink it.

    1. Alpha Tony
      Boffin

      @Thomas 18

      Actually not true at all Thomas. The law of diminishing returns kicks in - Sooner or later you would come down regardless. The main effect of ecstasy is to stimulate the release of seratonin in your brain. You only have a limited quantity of it to start with so sooner or later you reach the point where you run out and you come down however many more pills you take.

      The main reason people have unpleasant comedowns is not the ecstasy itself anyway, it is the other things in the pills that the ecstasy is cut with - normally a cocktail of speed and other stimulants like caffeine - in combination with exhaustion and (to a degree) dehydration, not to mention in many cases a hangover too as people often drink at the same time (and a hangover is always worse when you can't sleep it off due to stimulants).

      If people could buy pure uncut MDMA and they were sensible enough not to mix it with alcohol or large quantities of caffeine, in most cases they could 'drink plenty of water before they go to sleep' as you suggest for the alcohol and come out feeling much better than someone that had been drinking until the same time in the morning.

  11. Seanmon

    Even in my wild youth

    I never did E. I was worried I'd accidentally like someone.

  12. Neil Paterson
    Happy

    Reg units needed...

    Just how large is "'avin' it large?" in nanoWales?

  13. Olafthemighty
    Coat

    Finally....

    Someone who... hmm... wassat?... yeah, I... oo look at that!

    It's around here somewhere. Blue Rizla and a little bag in the inside pocket.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    "59 ravey non-users"

    And *boy* were they tough to find

  15. sam bo
    Thumb Down

    Rhyming slang ?

    I thought trick-cyclist was rhyming slang for psychiatrist, not psychologist.

    And really if you think a psychiatrist has any more credibility than a psychologist, then you have clearly never met one.

    1. wheel

      Quite.

      Agreed. Frankly, the only real difference is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree. So Dr Halpern holds an MD (UK equivalent MB ChB) from a medical school rather than a BS (UK BSc) from a science faculty. A psychologist is more likely to have a BS from a science faculty. (Note that an MD is not a doctorate level degree, either, which most researching psychologists would be expected to hold.) So he is arguably less of a scientist than a psychologist would be.

      If El Reg is going to denigrate soft scientists, you should at least do it properly.

      1. Hungry Sean

        not in the US

        I'm assuming the lead on this study is from the US since it's funded by the US government. An MD degree here is a graduate degree the same length of study as PhD, generally followed by several years of residence. However, it is also (at least generally) professional degree, rather than a research degree. Someone with a doctorate in psychology by contrast would have a dissertation, etc. I'm not sure what the reg's hangup is with psychologists-- the modern breed have a strong understanding of statistics, neuroscience, and often computer science. Boffin can certainly be applied.

  16. Chris Hatfield
    Happy

    Ebeneezer Goode

    There's a guy in the place

    He's got a bittersweet face

    And he goes by the name of Ebeneezer Goode

    His friends call him Eezer and he is the main geezer

    And he'll vibe about the place like no other man could

    He's refined, he's sublime, he makes you feel fine

    Though very much maligned and misunderstood

    But if you know Eezer he's a real crowd pleaser

    He's ever so good, he's Ebeneezer Goode

    You can see that he's mischievious, mysterious and devious

    When he circulates amongst the people in the place

    But once you know he's fun and something of a genius

    He gives a grin that goes around from face to face to face

    Backwards and then forwards, forwards and then backwards

    Eezer is the geezer who loves to muscle in

    That's about the time the crowd all shout the name of Eezer

    As he's kotcheled in the corner, laughing by the bass bin

    E's are Good, E's are Good

    He's Ebeneezer Goode

    E's are Good, E's are Good

    He's Ebeneezer Goode

    E's are Good, E's are Good

    He's Ebeneezer Goode

    E's are Good, E's are Good

    He's Ebeneezer Goode

    He's Ebeneezer Goode

  17. Chris Hatfield

    Drug safety

    Back in the early 2000s, I used to order an ecstasy testing kit from the green party(!) You took a pill scraping, and put some liquid on it. If it turned purple, it was pure MDMA. The degree of purple indicated the strength

    If it was cut with bad stuff, it turned other colours. I was very anal about testing all my pills, because of all the media moral panic. The Dutch to do it right - they have super expensive electronic equipment in nightclubs to test the ingredients.

    1. Paul 172
      Thumb Down

      eh ?

      "The Dutch to do it right - they have super expensive electronic equipment in nightclubs to test the ingredients."

      WHERE ? sounds like an urban myth to me mate. considering i lived in amsterdam a couple of years ago and explored the city a fair bit...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Dear Moral crusaders,

    You would be shocked at the number of medical students and dental students I used to go raving with at uni.

    If you're doing something like medicine, you had to keep your mouth firmly shut about stuff like this. So many of them had 'angel' personas and led "double-lives".

    I had my very first pill at Arcane at the Students Union (of a NE University). It was a lot of fun. :D On the dance floor with me, loved up, with bottles of water - loads of student doctors and dentists (people on my course)

    (I don't touch MDMA or ecstasy any more)

    If you want accurate drug info, read New Scientist, don't rely on the Daily Fail.

  19. Simon Lyon

    Aftereffects from even half-decent pills ...

    ... should be no more than feeling a bit "faded" from endorphin-depletion or, if it was cut with speed (not uncommon), feeling a bit more shagged out.

    Latter is easily dealt with by the universal cure of a good fry-up accompanied by freshly-squeezed (not reconstituted) orange juice and a coffee.

    The former (contrary to scare stories) your body will happily replenish in 24hrs or less.

    One of the risk-lowering properties of pills is that very few people (repectfully disagreeing with Thomas 18 above) wake up the next day feeling like popping a few more pills right away is a good idea.

    For the simple reason that they've generally found that pills don't work that well unless they've got a high energy level already to work with.

    With regard to the study and the standard "all pills are cut with who knows what'll kill you" disclaimer at the end:

    Anyone who buys from the guy working the queue outside instead of a reputable dealer* they know well deserves what they get!

    Though certain more enlightened countries offer free testing to double-check what you've got before popping it.

    * For the non-cognoscenti reading this the words dealer, pusher and crap-dealing-scumbag are NOT the interchangeable words the media use them as.

    1. Paul 172

      "freshly-squeezed (not reconstituted) orange juice"

      Can you explain please... I was just wondering why?

  20. Svantevid
    Pint

    Raves and religions

    "one might speculate that the mental level of a person who can tolerate being "a member of the 'rave' subculture" without the use of powerful mind-altering chemicals may not be exactly the same as that of the general population."

    ---

    To be fair, Mr Page, shamans all over the world used mind-altering drugs and/or music to get into altered states of consciousness. It's a time-honoured ritual.

    Speaking from personal experience, you can get that result without drugs. Although it's more fun with them. Thankfully, the last time I've checked I could still score high 150s on MENSA tests. So I think I don't have any significant brain damage from... ahem, better raving through chemistry. :-)

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      WTF?

      RE: Raves and religions

      ".....better raving through chemistry." And here's the bit where it all seemed just a bit silly to me - what does it say about your social life if you need a "mind-altering experience" to enjoy a rave or night out? Whilst I did have some hilarious stoodie experiences whilst drunk or due to my friends being drunk, I soon grew out of that and found the best times were when everyone was relatively sober and just having a good time. On the other hand, one of the scariest experiences was trying to help a girl that had "taken something" and was up the proverbial creek. I can understand the argument for legalisation if only on medical safety grounds (but the idea it will stamp out illegal pill producers and dealers is, IMHO, silly), I just don't see the need in the first place.

  21. Simon Lyon

    Medical students - not shocked ...

    ... just proves the point of most of this thread.

    Most med students I've known are complete nutters in some ways but they've got first-hand experience of people who've screwed up their bodies/heads and the horrors that can ensue.

    They do weed and pills and maybe occasionally coke - if they're serious about their career then they don't touch anything else.

  22. HRH Martin
    Thumb Up

    If you don't like raves watch one day cricket instead

    What a day! My team put 240 on the board, then in the break between innings Sir Peter Jackson recorded us stomping and grunting for audio FX for LOTR, then my boys bowled England out for 90.

    So full of 'love' for the world rang dad and gave him a rather garbled and excited live commentary from the game though. You've gone and made me all nostalgic... I wonder if i still have ******** number?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Lacking controls...

    Presumably they used typical raver youth with no middle aged adults in the study which leads us to the question:

    "Could it just be that there was no cognitive loss from these individuals because they had nothing there to loose?"

    Lets face it, we all have one or two moments of "OMG I can't believe I didn't die" in our youth... that or we wind up on the Darwin Awards web site.

    Mines the one that read's "teenagers scare the living sh*t out of me" on the back...

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    How many *still* take E in the UK?

    I dimly recall a figure of something like 1-2million regular users in the 90's

    Any idea what the current figures are?

    Curiously I did not see the complete collapse of civilisation predicted at the time.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boring

    "Halpern is a real doctor and is a professor of Psychiatry, not Psychology."

    And you're a journalist. It used to be funny watching you lot sneer at other people's professions. Now, it's kinda boring.

  26. Simon Lyon

    Paul 172 - OJ

    Freshly squeezed orange juice has a lot of vitamin C which is good for most over-indulgences.

    Also known (don't know the chemistry) to counteract the effects of some psychedelics. That's why you see juicing machines in many coffee shops in Amsterdam.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Pirate

      RE: Paul 172 - OJ

      Agreed, the immediate risk with Es is the stuff added to the pills to make the dealers more money. But, even pure MDMA has issues if over-used as it messes up the seratonin levels in your body, and Vit-C and some fruit sugars are not going to do more than mask that. Used infrequently, your body can recover to a stable seratonin level. Used more frequently, you can keep the level of seratonin depressed to the point where you are permeanently fatigued, subject to excessive or painful sensitivity (someone prods you and it feels like you've been punched), and liable to insomnia (which has problems of it's own). Almost as bad in the longterm is rollercoasting levels of seratonin where your brain is constantly having to coping with rising and falling levels as the user alternates between coming down and popping another pill. I was told WW2 scientists looked at seratonin production suppressents as a means of allowing soldiers to go longer without feelling sleepy, but the side effects were alarming. One of the side effects of low seratonin is a higher chance of developing mental issues, from anxiety through to depression and even increased chances of suicidal depression. Some scientists have linked imbalances in seratonin levels with serious disorders such as schizophrenia. As with anything that messes with the control mechanism for your bodily and mental functions (and that includes cannabis), we're only just realising what the longterm effects of even irregular use are. Me, I prefer my natural highs to be truly natural and not out of a test-tube, thanks. Adrenaline FTW!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    WARNING! DANGER!

    Oh noes! There are no warning labels and pills might be contaminated.

    I'll have to stick to nice safe cheap cider and B&H then.

  28. Ben Rosenthal
    WTF?

    Ectasy?

    Is he talking about what is sold under the name of Ecstasy or MDMA? There is a world of difference!

    I'd probably risk the latter if coming from a fairly known source (as known as you can get in these matters, because you are of course being forced to deal with people who are technically criminals), there is not a chance in hell that I would take anything sold as an Ecstasy tablet.

    At least with pure MDMA it has fairly consistent properties that you can look out for, wheras some dodgy pill off a dodgy geezer you are totally blind to it's contents.

    Not touched street drugs in years, and unless the government interferes and removes the alternatives, hopefully I never will again.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Drugs are bad m'kay!

    I did an awful lot of drugs in my youth, and so did most of my friends. We're all well balanced individuals with families and good careers. We still indulge from time to time but it's nothing like the frenzy of the 90's (and early noughties). So from personal experience, I can tell you that drugs do not turn you into a mindless child killer, who drinks through a tube.

    Infact I would venture to suggest that seeing reality from a slighty different angle is a good thing.

    However, I would say that the media is a more clear and present danger these days. Being made to watch "the kardashians" for a week would probably have a larger impact on "cognitive performance"...

    Anonymous because they're all out to get me.

  30. Scott Manley

    Drug Free Veteran Raver Checking

    'Of course, one might speculate that the mental level of a person who can tolerate being "a member of the 'rave' subculture" without the use of powerful mind-altering chemicals may not be exactly the same as that of the general population. Certainly such people seem to be a tiny minority.'

    I've been a 'raver' or dance music fan for almost 25 years (believe it or not the person that introduced me to house music was my dad who used to make me listen to Robbie Vincent's Soul Show) - and in that time I've been awarded degrees in Physics and Astronomy, and Computer science. So, no intellectual slouch am I, however I did drop out of my PhD in astronomy to go off and work in silicon valley, which also has a pretty good 'rave' scene.

    And yep, drug free the whole time.

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