NIH News Release
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Michelle Muth
(301) 443-6245

Scientific Conference Focuses on Ecstasy (MDMA)
International Experts Meet to Discuss the Latest Research and Emerging Trends
Scientists from around the world are meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, July 19 and 20, to discuss the latest research about the drug Ecstasy (MDMA — methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and its diverse effects on the brain and behavior.

"A number of the world's best monitoring mechanisms are detecting alarming increases in the popularity of Ecstasy among teens and young adults worldwide," said Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the NIH component that funds more than 85 percent of the world's research about the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. "The latest research shows that Ecstasy, despite its name, is not a harmless 'party' drug. In the short term, Ecstasy can cause dramatic changes in heart rate and blood pressure, dehydration, and a potentially life-threatening increase in body temperature. In the longer term, research shows that Ecstasy can cause lasting changes in the brain's chemical systems that control mood and memory. This conference provides us with an important opportunity to examine the latest scientific findings on Ecstasy and identify areas requiring additional research."

The conference will focus on Ecstasy-induced risk behaviors, long-term behavioral consequences, cardiovascular and brain toxicology, drug interactions, patterns of abuse, perceptions of risk, and implications for prevention and treatment research.

Note to reporters: An agenda for the meeting and more information is available on NIDA's website at To arrange interviews, please call the NIDA Press Office at 301-443-6245.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish through NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at