Recent-Onset Ecstasy Use: Association With Deviant Behaviors and Psychiatric Comorbidity

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Abstract

Background

Despite increases in ecstasy (MDMA) use in the United States, little is known about characteristics linked with recent-onset ecstasy use, especially psychiatric symptoms and deviant behaviors.

Aims

To test whether individuals with high levels of other drug use are more likely to be recent-onset ecstasy users; to test whether psychiatric symptoms in adults are associated with recent-onset ecstasy use; to explore the association between recent-onset ecstasy use and concomitant deviant behaviors in adolescents and adults.

Methods

Data from the 2001 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Findings

Recent-onset ecstasy use was significantly more likely to occur among adolescents and adults (18–34 years old) who engaged in deviant behaviors during the past year as compared with those who did not engage in deviant behaviors during the past year. Higher levels of deviancy indicated a higher likelihood of being a recent-onset ecstasy user, and associations were strongest with nonviolent deviant behaviors such as selling illegal drugs and stealing. Associations between deviant behaviors and recent-onset ecstasy use were similar in strength to associations between deviant behaviors and recent-onset cocaine and marijuana use, respectively. Adults who had past-year psychiatric symptoms (both depressive and panic symptoms) were twice as likely to be recent-onset ecstasy users as compared with those without past-year psychiatric symptoms. Greater levels of drug involvement increased the odds of being a recent-onset ecstasy user.

Conclusion

Recent-onset ecstasy use seems to be associated with a range of other behavioral problems and may reflect one aspect of a larger problem behavior syndrome.

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