BPS Fellow’s concern at Ecstasy TV show

Professor Andy Parrott says he agreed to take part in the recent Channel 4 programme about Ecstasy (MDMA) on condition that he would be given time to summarise the scientific evidence on the damaging effects of the drug on the human brain. In the event, the programme’s maker did not give him that time.

The Swansea University psychologist, who is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, makes this statement in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph today (8 October).

In the letter he goes on to argue that the mood gains from MDMA are short lived and followed by a longer period of negative moods such as irritability, paranoia and depression. The average weekly moods of MDMA users are therefore significantly worse than those of non-users.

He also details a number of studies that have found that taking MDMA has a detrimental effect on physical and mental health:

“At Swansea University we have found reduced brain activity in MDMA users now free from drugs. Memory continues to be impaired for months and years afterwards. In very heavy users, 'word recall' can be reduced to 50 per cent of normal levels.”

Professor Parrott concludes by saying that MDMA has weak hallucinogenic properties and can cause mental confusion, so it is unlikely that it could help resolve complex mental health problems.