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Parrott AC, Milani RM, Parmar R, Turner JD. 
“Recreational ecstasy/MDMA and other drug users from the UK and Italy: psychiatric symptoms and psychobiological problems”. 
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;159(1):77-82..

RATIONALE: Recreational drug use is increasingly widespread amongst young people, but there are concerns that psychoactive drugs may be associated with psychiatric symptoms or psychobiological problems.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the psychiatric health status of a large, non- clinical sample of young adults from Italy and the UK, and relate it to their use of ecstasy/MDMA and other recreational drugs.

METHODS: The UEL Recreational Drug Use Questionnaire was completed by 768 young people (mean age 21.7 years) from four European cities. The subjects comprised 150 non-drug users, 185 alcohol/tobacco users, 97 cannabis and alcohol/tobacco users, 102 illicit polydrug but not ecstasy users, 115 light (< 20 times) ecstasy polydrug users, and 119 heavy (>20 times) ecstasy polydrug users. The unpaid volunteers completed the SCL-90 self- rating inventory for psychiatric symptoms when off drug, with 30 additional questions covering positive moods and life experiences.

RESULTS: Heavy ecstasy polydrug users reported significantly higher scores than non-drug users on several SCL-90 factors, including phobic anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, anxiety, psychoticism, somatisation, and significantly higher rates of 'loss of sex interest or pleasure'. Self-rated symptom scores increased in line with greater drug use, so that polydrug users who had never taken ecstasy also reported a variety of psychobiological impairments. In contrast, positive moods and life experiences were broadly similar across subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: The recreational use of ecstasy/MDMA is associated with a range of psychiatric symptoms and psychobiological problems. However, these problems are not specific to ecstasy users but are also evident in other recreational polydrug users.
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