Here’s the gist of what They want you to think:
Enough time has finally elapsed to start asking if ecstasy damages health in the long term. According to the biggest review ever undertaken, it causes slight memory difficulties and mild depression, but these rarely translate into problems in the real world. While smaller studies show that some individuals have bigger problems, including weakened immunity and larger memory deficits, so far, for most people, ecstasy seems to be nowhere near as harmful over time as you may have been led to believe.
Why do they say this? They want to pander to the Crowd. The Crowd likes fun. Drugs, alcohol, sex are fun. War, obligation, work are not. So make fun of the boss and endorse sex, drugs and drink! It’s so easy to please self-pleased apes.
But there’s more:
MDMA is toxic, though not powerfully so – an average person would need to take around 20 or 30 tablets to reach a lethal dose. And for a small fraction of people, even small amounts of ecstasy can kill.
In animal studies the drug has been shown to inflict lasting damage to the brain’s serotonin system, which is involved in mood and cognition. Imaging studies have found signs of similar damage in human users, but there are debates over whether this is caused by ecstasy use and whether the damage has any real-life consequences.
They found that compared with non-users, people who took even a small amount of ecstasy at some point consistently performed worse on psychometric tests, which measure mental performance, especially memory, attention, and executive function, which includes decision-making and planning.
The most pronounced effects are on memory, mainly verbal and working memory. While the ability to plan is somewhat affected, other aspects of executive function are not. Focused attention – the ability to zoom in quickly on a new task – suffers too, though sustained attention does not.
These effects appear not just in current users but also in ex-users who haven’t touched the drug for at least six months, suggesting that the problems are long-lasting.
So in lab tests, they have not detected any “sizable” consequences of these effects. I guess “sizable” is relative to whatever you plan to do with your life. If you want to be homeless, a cube slave, a hipster, or work at a non-profit, there’s probably not much risk of having impaired mental function.
But if you have higher ambitions — well, taking Ecstasy and other drugs will provide you with an excuse (a type of justification) for non-performance.