Do recreational drugs make us fail to remember?

Everyday and prospective memory deficits in ecstasy/polydrug users

From Journal of Psychopharmacology

Have you ever forgotten to post an important letter or let an appointment slip your mind? A new study from UK researchers suggests that for those who regularly use ecstasy or other recreational drugs, this kind of memory lapse is more common.  The study used a group of students, a mix of men and women, drug users and non users and set a number of memory tasks. The results indicate a link between these recreational drugs and an impairment of prospective memory – remembering to remember to do tasks.

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The impact of ecstasy/polydrug use on real-world memory (i.e. everyday memory, cognitive failures and prospective memory [PM]) was investigated in a sample of 42 ecstasy/polydrug users and 31 non-ecstasy users. Laboratory-based PM tasks were administered along with self-reported measures of PM to test whether any ecstasy/polydrug-related impairment on the different aspects of PM was present. Self-reported measures of everyday memory and cognitive failures were also administered. Ecstasy/polydrug associated deficits were observed on both laboratory and self-reported measures of PM and everyday memory. The present study extends previous research by demonstrating that deficits in PM are real and cannot be simply attributed to self-misperceptions. The deficits observed reflect some general capacity underpinning both time- and event-based PM contexts and are not task specific. Among this group of ecstasy/polydrug users recreational use of cocaine was also prominently associated with PM deficits. Further research might explore the differential effects of individual illicit drugs on real-world memory.

Read the article Article details:

Title: Everyday and prospective memory deficits in ecstasy/polydrug users
Authors: Florentia Hadjiefthyvoulou, John E Fisk, Catharine Montgomery and Nikola Bridges
DOI: 10.1177/0269881109359101
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