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Alzheimer’s Society comment on ecstasy and dementia

Published 11 March 2008

It is not known whether the drug ecstasy, which only became prominent around 15 – 20 years ago, may contribute to the development of dementia in later life.

The drug has been found to cause non-progressive brain damage in isolated focal points in the brain, leading to the development of obsessive compulsive disorder, persistent psychosis and other forms of brain damage. As younger users of this drug get older it is a potential concern that these changes could contribute to the development of dementia in later life but it is too early to tell.

It is difficult to collect accurate data on the relationship between illegal drug use and dementia because of the difficulties of people honestly recalling drug use in research trials.

Dr Susanne Sorensen
Head of Research
Alzheimer's Society

Note to editors: 

The Alzheimer's Society is the leading care and research charity for people with all forms dementia and their carers. It provides information and education, support for carers, and quality day and home care. It funds medical and scientific research and campaigns for improved health and social services and greater public understanding of dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society provides a national help line on 0845 3000 336 and website http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/. Please include this information in any publication that uses these comments.

For further information contact:
Hannah Clack (0207 423 3597)

Information on early onset dementia is also available www.alzheimers.org.uk/factsheet/440