A recent article regarding MDMA (Ecstasy) from the BBC Newsbeat team had me drawing comparisons with antidepressants (SSRIs).
According to researcher, Professor Philip Murphy, "ecstasy is causing more mental issues." Adding that he "is worried that increasingly strong ecstasy will harm users ability to remember things efficiently."
Murphy goes on to say that ...
"The danger is much greater now than it was in the late 1990's The risk now of young people using stronger ecstasy is higher in terms of being able to regulate emotion and your ability to think clearly."
For a nanosecond I thought Murphy was talking about antidepressant use.
Let's just take a look at his findings and compare them with findings to popular antidepressants that, remember, have been granted a licence for use.
Ecstasy health risks
It can make you anxious, frightened and paranoid
It tightens your jaw muscles and can make you gurn
It raises your heart rate
Long-term use can cause depression, heart disease and liver and kidney damage.
Now, lets look at the risks associated with antidepressants.
SSRI health risks
Moodiness, anxiety, crying, nervousness, restlessness.
Grinding your teeth, especially at night.
Rapid heart rate.
Long term use may cause Depersonalization, liver damage. Antidepressant use has also been linked to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
These are just a handful of risk with SSRI's - Compare the two lists and ask yourself why one drug is legal and the other isn't.
Ironically, MDMA was first synthesized by Merck Pharmaceuticals in Germany in 1912.
Let's go back to the researcher, Professor Philip Murphy.
Professor Philip Murphy has been researching the drug for nearly 20 years and says he's worried about the supply currently on the market.
"The danger is much greater now than it was in the late 1990s," he says.
Again, one can associate this statement with antidepressants given that sales since the 1990's have shot through the roof as Dr's prescribe them for everyday problems ranging from marital issues to grieving the death of a cat.
Parents will obviously be concerned at the growing use of ecstasy in the UK. Those same parents should also heed the dangerous side effects of antidepressants, a list of which is considerably bigger than ecstasy.
It's also rather bizarre that coroners will thoroughly investigate claims that ecstasy can induce suicide yet rarely do when carrying out inquests on people who have killed themselves whilst on an antidepressant. One such inquest was that of Ben Stollery who, at the age of 18, took ecstasy. He was found hanged by a river bank near a canoe club. A toxicologist who found traces of MDMA in the teenager's blood, saying the teen may have suffering the effects of "Suicide Tuesday", a term used for people who use recreational drugs on a Saturday then kill themselves when they fully come down from the high the following Tuesday.
The toxicologist, after a verdict of suicide was returned, said, "On the balance of probabilities, I do believe his state of mind was influenced by MDMA and the comedown part of this drug."
For a concise list of coroner inquests where antidepressant use has been mentioned but not investigated by the coroner go to antidepaware website here.
The benefits of using ecstasy has been described by some users as giving them a high and making them feel overwhelming empathy.
I recently wrote to both the British and European drug regulators (MHRA and EMA) and asked them to list the benefits of taking an SSRI. Once I get a response I will post on here.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with this - many a true word spoken in jest.