British Clubbers Go Blind After Taking 'Brain' Drug

By McCarton Ackerman 01/07/14

The incident highlights a disturbingly growing trend of teenagers not taking seriously the dangers of club drugs.

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A group of four party-goers in North Wales went temporarily blind after taking a dangerous new club drug known as “Brain.” The drug, which contains speed and is taken in liquid form, can also cause limb numbness, palpitations, and increased pulse rates. Doctors are still trying to save the vision of the adult man and three other teenagers, but it is expected that they will fully recover their sight.

A University of Florida research study also confirmed that most club drugs, including Ecstasy and Molly, can inflict damage in users that is similar to a traumatic brain injury. "We found that a lot of brain cells are being injured by these drugs. That's alarming to society now,” said Firas Kobeissy, a postdoctoral associate in the College of Medicine department of psychiatry. “People don't seem to take club drugs as seriously as drugs such as heroin or cocaine."

A 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that over 1.3 million people over the age of 12 reported using methamphetamine the previous month. Molly is arguably the most popular drug now because users commonly believe that it’s a “cleaner” form of MDMA with less chance for any physical harm. But the researchers confirmed this is not the case.

"These data and the previous four years of data suggest some drugs, especially methamphetamine, cause changes that are not readily reversible,”said  Dr. Mark Gold, chief of the division of addiction medicine at UF's McKnight Brain Institute. "Future research is necessary for us to determine when or if methamphetamine-related brain changes reverse themselves."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.