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Harmful or Therapeutic? Debating the Recreational Drug, Ecstasy

Posted on April 18, 2005

Dr. Stephen Kish will be the guest speaker at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s monthly Symposium on April 21, 2005. Dr. Kish’s presentation, “The Recreational Drug Ecstasy (MDMA): Brain Neurotoxin or Therapeutic”, will review the “science” of ecstasy, and assess the strength of the evidence of neurotoxicity in humans and the possibility that the drug might be helpful in the treatment of patients with some anxiety disorders.

It is not uncommon for family physicians to encounter young patients with a wide range of psychiatric complaints, who suggest that their condition is a direct consequence of repeated exposure to ecstasy. Dr. Kish will discuss this illicit recreational drug that continues to be controversial. Expert opinions differ on ecstasy’s long-term harm effects, and whether ecstasy has some clinical use in psychiatry.

Dr. Kish is Head of the Human Neuro Chemical Pathology Laboratory at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is presently leading a team of scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Studies on the behavior and brains of young users of ecstasy. To date, he remains the only researcher who has published postmortem brain Neuro chemical findings on people who chronically used these amphetamine derivatives.

The Symposium will be broadcast from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, East campus, Willet Green Miller Centre, 8th Floor, Laurentian University, Sudbury from 12 to 1:30 pm, Eastern time. It can be viewed via videoconference at the School’s West campus located at Advanced Technology & Academic Centre, 6th floor, Room 6022, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay. Limited seating is available at each site. Please contact Sherry Carlucci at (705) 662-7257 to reserve a spot.

Health professionals may participate in the Symposium at NORTH Network sites throughout the region. Individuals may view the live webcast from their computers by going to for web cast setup and details.