A newly published report has found that some long-term users of the drug ecstasy may be most likely to reconsider their use of the drug after six years. The report, by a team of psychologists shows that this is the time when reported negative effects of the drug reach a peak, whilst reported positive effects reach their lowest point.

The researchers, Dr. Philip Murphy of Edge Hill, Dr. Michelle Wareing of Liverpool John Moores University, and Dr. John Fisk of the University of Central Lancashire, gathered detailed data from 328 ecstasy users regarding the positive and negative effects they experienced from using the drug.

Edge Hill?s Dr. Murphy commented: “It is apparent that many regular ecstasy users engage in a trade off with regard to the positive and negative effects of the drug so that, for example, depression in the come-down period after use is weighed against the immediate pleasure that its use brings. Only people who had used the drug for less than three years reported that positive effects clearly outweighed the negative effects, indicating an apparent ‘honeymoon period? of enjoyment.”

The authors believe that their findings could provide valuable assistance to those trying to help ecstasy users give up the drug.

Dr. Murphy added: “An understanding of the issues which users consider, regarding what they see as the benefits and risks of using ecstasy will hopefully be helpful to those counselling users, or devising health education material for users or prospective users.”

The report also highlights that those who use the drug rely heavily on their friends for information about the effects and dangers of it, with this being especially the case with women. Health education initiatives which work through peer groups may, therefore, be especially useful.

The study, which is published in the May issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology, concludes that there is an acceptance of risk by users that those tasked with communicating the dangers of ecstasy use need to take into account. In particular, users are aware of the potential damage the drug may cause to their mental processes.

Dr. Murphy concluded: “There is much evidence to suggest a link between ecstasy use and deficits in memory and other cognitive processes. We have a longitudinal study in progress here at Edge Hill looking at changes in memory performance in ecstasy and cannabis users over a two-year period. This will hopefully give us a better idea of the long-term pattern for deficits associated with these drugs. We hope to have the findings ready in two to three years time.”

This report may be accessed through http://jop.sagepub.com
The bibliographic details for this report are shown below.

Murphy, P.N., Wareing, M. and Fisk J.E. (2006). Users? perceptions of the risks and effects of taking MDMA (Ecstasy). Journal of Psychopharmacology, 20, 447-455.