Ecstasy/MDMA attributed problems reported by novice, moderate and heavy recreational users

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2002 Aug;17(6):309-12. doi: 10.1002/hup.415.


Rationale: The recreational use of MDMA/Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is associated with many psychobiological problems, but there is a paucity of data on how these relate to the level of past use.

Objectives: to assess the incidence of Ecstasy-attributed problems as reported by novice, moderate and heavy users.

Methods: 763 unpaid volunteers took part in a WWW study of recreational drug use. This report is based on the 282 Ecstasy users from that sample, who comprised 109 novice users (1-9 occasions), 136 moderate users (10-99 occasions), and 36 heavy users (+100 occasions). Yes/no responses were automatically recorded to a series of questions covering psychobiological problems experienced when drug-free, which were attributed by the respondents to their Ecstasy use.

Results: Depression, memory problems, anxiety, mood fluctuation, poor concentration, infections, tremors/twitches and weight loss, were all significantly associated with the extent of Ecstasy use. Thus memory problems attributed to Ecstasy were reported by 19% of novice users, 52% of heavy users and 73% of heavy users (chi-square 42.74, df=2, p<0.001); many of the other variables showed similar trends.

Conclusions: The incidence of problems attributed to Ecstasy use, is directly related to the number of occasions it has been used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Depression / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Internet
  • Memory Disorders / chemically induced
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Illicit Drugs
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine