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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Overdosing on speed or Ecstasy is roughly the same as giving yourself a severe blow to the head, UF psychiatrists said in a recent study.

Researchers compared the brains of rats that had traumatic brain injuries with those that had been given overdoses of methamphetamine.

After a five-year study, scientists found that similar kinds of brain damage appear in both groups of rats.

Firas Kobeissy, a UF postdoctoral associate in the department of psychiatry, said physical head injury and the use of "club drugs" both kill brain cells, but in different ways.

A physical injury to the head from a car accident will kill many brain cells instantly and cut others off from receiving enough oxygen, Kobeissy said. The chemicals from Ecstasy or speed have a similar effect over a period of time, he said.

Both types of damage lead to decreased brain function, loss of memory and possibly permanent brain damage.

Kobeissy added that the negative effects of methamphetamines and Ecstasy emerge gradually.

A 2005 paper authored by Kobeissy and other members of the psychiatry department cited that 35 million Americans regularly use methamphetamine.

"This new type of abuse is an alarming thing, especially in Gainesville," Kobeissy said.

Kobeissy said it's possible to mistakenly take a high dose of Ecstasy or speed in a club.

"Sometimes, when you go to a club, what you're given is not like a pure pill. You don't know what you're given," Kobeissy said.

Matthew Warren, a graduate student, began this research with Mark Gold, chief doctor in the UF division of addictive medicine, more than five years ago.

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Warren said the message of this research is clear: Overdosing on club drugs can be lethal.

"People need to understand that an overdose of methamphetamine or ecstasy can be as damaging or worse than a head-on motor-vehicle collision," Warren said.

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