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Prevalence of self-reported movement dysfunction among young adults with a history of ecstasy and methamphetamine use

Methamphetamine and ecstasy are both drugs that young adults across the United States may misuse. The biggest issue with this use is that methamphetamine and metabolites of ecstasy are toxic to certain neurons in the brain. This can cause serious long-term effects that may have an impact on the brains of young adults. This study looks at ecstasy users with no history or methamphetamine use, methamphetamine users, and non-stimulant users to see the drugs affects on movement and movement-related brain regions. The participants included adults and young adults 20 years and older.

To collect data, the participants were asked about demographics, health, movement, and drug use. The questions about their health were focused on diagnosed diseases/disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. They also specifically asked how old the participant was when they received the diagnosis. The questions about movement included 9 questions including things like “Have you noticed a tremor in your hands, arms, legs, or head?” and “Have you noticed that your balance isn’t as good as it used to be?” Finally, they asked participants about all pervious illicit drug use.  

What the researchers found was that the study did demonstrate that self-reported tremors and changes in fine hand control and voice/speech is significantly higher in those that have a history of illicit stimulant use. However, changes in other movements such as gait, posture, and sensation did not show any difference between drug users. One problem with the current study is that poly-drug use is common in those with a history of ecstasy and/or methamphetamine use. Because of this, it is hard to differentiate the effects of the two specifics rugs from the combined effects of all drugs used. This information is important for young adults to understand the long-term effects of methamphetamine and ecstasy use. Intervention and prevention programs should include information about these possible long-term effects of brain function.

Take Away: Methamphetamine and ecstasy are both stimulant drugs that are used by young adults. This study looks at long-term effects on the brain of those who previously have used the stimulants. They collected data on participants health, movement, and drug use. What they found was that the study demonstrated self-reported tremors and changes in fine hand control and voice/speech is significantly higher in those that have a history of illicit stimulant use. More research should be done on different drugs specific effect on long-term brain function, but it is still important to educate young adults on the possible long-term effects on brain function that these stimulant drugs may cause.

Todd, G., Burns, L., Pearson-Dennett, V., Esterman, A., Faulkner, P. L., Wilcox, R. A., … White, J. M. (2019). Prevalence of self-reported movement dysfunction among young adults with a history of ecstasy and methamphetamine use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 205, 107595. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107595

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