Linking the pharmacological content of ecstasy tablets to the subjective experiences of drug users
- First Online:
- 550 Downloads
Most studies on the subjective effects of ecstasy are based on the assumption that the substance that was taken is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). However, many tablets sold as ecstasy contain other substances and MDMA in varying doses. So far, few attempts have been made to take this into account while assessing subjective effects.
This study aims to link the pharmacological content of tablets sold as ecstasy to the subjective experiences reported by ecstasy users.
Self-reported effects on ecstasy tablets were available from 5,786 drug users who handed in their tablets for chemical analysis at the Drug Information and Monitoring System (DIMS) in the Netherlands. Logistic regression was employed to link the pharmacological content of ecstasy tablets to the self-reported subjective effects and compare effects with MDMA to other substances present.
MDMA showed a strong association with desirable subjective effects, unparalleled by any other psychoactive substance. However, the association of MDMA was dose-dependent, with higher doses (>120 mg/tablet) likely to evoke more adverse effects. The novel psychostimulants mephedrone and p-fluoroamphetamine were considered relatively desirable, whereas meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP) and p-methoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) were strongly associated with adverse subjective effects. Also, 3,4-methylene-dioxyamphetamine (MDA) and benzylpiperazine (BZP) were not appreciated as replacement for MDMA.
Linking the pharmacological content of ecstasy sold on the street to subjective experiences contributes to a better understanding of the wide range of subjective effects ascribed to ecstasy and provides a strong rationale for the prolonged endurance of MDMA as the key ingredient of the ecstasy market.
Keywords3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) Ecstasy Subjective effects Desirable Adverse Dose
- Baylen CA, Rosenberg H (2006) A review of the acute subjective effects of MDMA/ecstasy. Addiction 101:933–947Google Scholar
- Brunt TM, Poortman A, Niesink RJ, van den Brink W (2010) Instability of the ecstasy market and a new kid on the block: mephedrone. J Psychopharmacol. doi:10.1177/0269881110378370
- Carhart-Harris RL, King LA, Nutt DJ (2011) A web-based survey on mephedrone. Drug Alcohol Depend. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.02.011
- EMCDDA (2003–2011) European information system and database on new drugs, EWS final reports 2003–2011, http://ednd.emcdda.europa.eu/
- EMCDDA (2010) European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Annual Report 2010, http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_120104_EN_EMCDDA_AR2010_EN.pdf
- Erowid (2006) Erowid 4-Fluoroamphetamine (para-Fluoroamphetamine) Vault, http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/4_fluoroamphetamine/
- Erowid (2010) Erowid Experience Vaults: 4-Methylmethcathinone Reports, http://www.erowid.org/experiences/subs/exp_4Methylmethcathinone.shtml
- Europol-EMCDDA (2010) Annual Report on the implementation of Council Decision 2005/387/JHA,http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_132857_EN_EMCDDA-Europol%20Annual%20Report%202010A.pdf
- Gouzoulis-Mayfrank E, Thelen B, Habermeyer E, Kunert HJ, Kovar KA, Lindenblatt H, Hermle L, Spitzer M, Sass H (1999) Psychopathological, neuroendocrine and autonomic effects of 3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE), psilocybin and d-methamphetamine in healthy volunteers. Results of an experimental double-blind placebo-controlled study. Psychopharmacology Berl 142:41–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Parrott AC, Rodgers J, Buchanan T, Ling J, Heffernan T, Scholey AB (2006) Dancing hot on Ecstasy: physical activity and thermal comfort ratings are associated with the memory and other psychobiological problems reported by recreational MDMA users. Hum Psychopharmacol 21:285–298PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schifano F, Albanese A, Fergus S, Stair JL, Deluca P, Corazza O, Davey Z, Corkery J, Siemann H, Scherbaum N, Farré M, Torrens M, Demetrovics Z, Ghodse AH, Psychonaut Web Mapping; ReDNet Research Groups (2011) Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone; ‘meow meow’): chemical, pharmacological and clinical issues. Psychopharmacology Berl 214:593–602PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Staack RF, Maurer HH (2003) Piperazine-derived designer drug 1-(3-chlorophenyl)piperazine (mCPP): GC-MS studies on its metabolism and its toxicological detection in rat urine including analytical differentiation from its precursor drugs trazodone and nefazodone. J Anal Toxicol 27:560–568PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Thompson I, Williams G, Caldwell B, Aldington S, Dickson S, Lucas N, McDowall J, Weatherall M, Robinson G, Beasley R (2010) Randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the effects of the ‘party pills’ BZP/TFMPP alone and in combination with alcohol. J Psychopharmacol 24:1299–1308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- UNODC (2010) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2010, http://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr/WDR_2010/World_Drug_Report_2010_lo-res.pdf