Intended for healthcare professionals


Ecstasy and the antecedents of illicit drug use

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 06 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:803
  1. Kari Poikolainen, research director (
  1. Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, PO Box 220, FIN-00531, Helsinki, Finland

    Anxiety and depression may be risk factors for using ecstasy

    Ecstasy (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It is neurotoxic for animals and a health risk for humans.1 Most users are young, and use has increased in most European countries where annual survey data are available, now exceeding amphetamine use in some. In Europe recent lifetime experience rates range from 0.4% to 13% among 15-24-year olds; in the United States the rate is 14.8% among 18-25 year olds.2 However, surveys probably underestimate the number of users.3 Ecstasy users often use other illicit drugs,4 raising the question why young people take addictive drugs.

    To become addicted to something, you must first be able to obtain it; then you have to try it, you must instantly like …

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