Ecstasy Use Tied to Sleep Apnea

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December 3, 2009

Prior use of the drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine, known as ecstasy, could increase the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published in the journal Neurology. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine studied 71 recreational ecstasy users who were otherwise medically healthy and 62 non-users. Study participants were observed during an all-night sleep study in a controlled setting, and researchers found recreational users who had been drug free for at least two weeks had a significantly higher risk of sleep apnea compared with non-users. According to the study, the severity of apnea was found to be related to lifetime exposure to ecstasy. The researchers concluded that ecstasy's effect on serotonin, a hormone involved in sleep, could lend support to the notion that serotonin plays a role in the physiological processes associated with sleep apnea.