A row has erupted after three experts suggested that Ecstasy may not be dangerous and that people are being misled about the drug.
The psychologists have strongly criticized animal and human studies which say the drug causes long-term brain damage and mental problems. But other scientists insist the harmful effects of Ecstasy are undeniable.
Writing in the magazine The Psychologist, published by the British Psychological Society, the researchers say the drug's reported adverse effects may even be imagined because of the belief that the drug causes long-term harm.
Two of the experts challenging the scientific establishment on Ecstasy are from the University of Liverpool. Dr Jon Cole is a Reader in Addictive Behavior, and Harry Sumnall is a postdoctoral researcher at the university.
The third author is Professor Charles Grob, Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California.
However, three other Ecstasy experts writing in The Psychologist dismissed the notion that symptoms of long-term Ecstasy use were all in the mind.
One of them, Dr Michael Morgan, senior lecturer in experimental psychology at the University of Sussex, Brighton, said he had found "overwhelming evidence" that regular Ecstasy use causes impulsive behavior and impaired verbal memory.
Surveys indicate that about 10% of young UK adults aged 15 to 29 have tried Ecstasy. That figure jumps to about 90% for young people who regularly attend outdoor raves or nightclubs.
Between 1993 and 1997 some 72 deaths in the UK attributed to Ecstasy, where as 158 people lost their lives as a result of taking amphetamines or "speed", another popular dance drug.
Ecstasy achieved notoriety with the death of Leah Betts in November 1995. She had taken one tablet of the drug on her 18th birthday and died after drinking too much water to counteract overheating - a side effects of the drug.
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