Pubdate: Tue, 10 Dec 2002
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Reuters Limited
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


BERLIN (Reuters Health) - A large German study shows that mental problems
often exist before use of the club drug Ecstasy, and researchers suggest
caution in interpreting the reported association between the drug and brain
cell damage.

The study, conducted by the Max Plank Institute for Psychiatry and the
Technical University in Dresden, suggests that psychological problems are
more likely to predate drug use rather than necessarily being a consequence
of it.

Professor Hans-Ulrich Wittchen and colleagues published their findings in
the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, based on information from nearly
2,500 people aged between 14 and 24.

The participants were questioned twice, with a 3-1/2 year gap between the
interviews. Overall, 9% had taken ecstasy at least once by the end of the
study and 69% of those had psychiatric disturbances as defined by the DSM-IV

Overall, nearly 69% of Ecstasy users had one or more non-substance abuse
mental disorder, significantly higher than for non-users (44.5%) and users
of other illicit drugs (55.5%), the researchers found.

But 88% of the people who took Ecstasy and had psychiatric problems reported
that those problems had arisen before they first took the party drug.

"The first use of ecstasy was secondary to the onset of DSM-IV mental
disorders in the majority of cases," the researchers note. "Subjects with
mental disorders at baseline also showed a significantly increased risk for
initiation of Ecstasy use during the 4-year follow-up period."

"Care should be taken in cross-sectional studies in interpreting mental
disorder signs and symptoms merely as a consequence of Ecstasy use, as
Ecstasy use might be associated with the use of multiple substances," they
write. "Onset of mental disorder is more likely to precede rather than to
follow use of Ecstasy and related substances."

SOURCE: Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2002;68:195.
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