MDMA and methamphetamine: some paradoxical negative and positive mood changes in an acute dose laboratory study

Abstract

Rationale

This study investigated the acute mood effects of oral MDMA, methamphetamine, and placebo in a double-blind laboratory study.

Methods

Fifty-two healthy participants comprised abstinent recreational users of stimulant drugs, 27 female and 25 male, mean age 24.8 years. Three test sessions involved acute 100 mg oral 3.4-methylendioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), 0.42 mg/kg oral methamphetamine, and matching placebo. Drug administration was counterbalanced, testing was double-blind, and medical supervision was present throughout. Car-driving performance on a laboratory simulator was assessed after 3 and 24 h, with the findings being presented elsewhere. Positive and negative moods (PANAS self-ratings) were completed before drug administration, 3, 4.5, and 24 h later. Blood samples were taken to monitor drug plasma levels.

Results

Following MDMA, there were no significant increases in positive moods, whereas negative moods were significantly higher than under placebo. Methamphetamine led to significant increases in both positive and negative moods. The MDMA findings contrast with the elated moods, typically noted by dance clubbers on Ecstasy. However, they are consistent with some previous laboratory findings, since a wide array of positive and negative mood changes have been demonstrated. One possible explanatory factor was the neutral environmental situation, particularly if a primary action of MDMA is to intensify ongoing psychological states. Other explanatory factors, such as dosage, gender, post-drug timing, neurohormonal aspects, and social factors, are also discussed.

Conclusions

In the laboratory, acute methamphetamine led to significantly higher positive moods. However, against expectations, MDMA did not generate a significant increase in positive moods.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Grant to Professors Con Stough, Papafotiou and Vic Ogden: grant DP0772762. Professor Andy Parrott was on sabbatical at the Brain Science Institute, Swinburne University, partially funded by NIDA grant DA-14910.

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Correspondence to Andrew C. Parrott.

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Parrott, A.C., Gibbs, A., Scholey, A.B. et al. MDMA and methamphetamine: some paradoxical negative and positive mood changes in an acute dose laboratory study. Psychopharmacology 215, 527–536 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-011-2184-9

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Keywords

  • MDMA
  • Ecstasy
  • Methamphetamine
  • Mood
  • Environment
  • PANAS
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine