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Hair MDMA Samples Are Consistent with Reported Ecstasy Use: Findings from a Study Investigating Effects of Ecstasy on Mood and Memory

Scholey A.B.a · Owen L.a · Gates J.a · Rodgers J.b · Buchanan T.d · Ling J.e · Heffernan T.c · Swan P.a · Stough C.a · Parrott A.C.f
aBrain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia; bNewcastle University and cNorthumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, dWestminster University, London, eKeele University, Keele, and fSwansea University, Swansea, UK Neuropsychobiology 2011;63:15–21 (DOI:10.1159/000321833)


Aims: Our group has conducted several Internet investigations into the biobehavioural effects of self-reported recreational use of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or Ecstasy) and other psychosocial drugs. Here we report a new study examining the relationship between self-reported Ecstasy use and traces of MDMA found in hair samples. Methods: In a laboratory setting, 49 undergraduate volunteers performed an Internet-based assessment which included mood scales and the University of East London Drug Use Questionnaire, which asks for history and current drug use. They also provided a hair sample for determination of exposure to MDMA over the previous month. Results: Self-report of Ecstasy use and presence in hair samples were consistent (p < 0.00001). Both subjective and objective measures predicted lower self-reported ratings of happiness and higher self-reported stress. Self-reported Ecstasy use, but not presence in hair, was also associated with decreased tension. Conclusion: Different psychoactive drugs can influence long-term mood and cognition in complex and dynamically interactive ways. Here we have shown a good correspondence between self-report and objective assessment of exposure to MDMA. These data suggest that the Internet has potentially high utility as a useful medium to complement traditional laboratory studies into the sequelae of recreational drug use.


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