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Proportion of ecstasy/MDMA users with a college degree increased by over 100% between 2007 and 2014

A recent study examined trends in ecstasy/MDMA use among 12- to 34-year-olds (N = 332,560) from 2007-2014. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative, cross-sectional study, were analyzed. Measures included self-reported past-year substance use and demographic characteristics, including education level, gender, and race/ethnicity. The authors collapsed years into pairs (e.g., 2011/12) to increase power to detect linear trends and estimated the prevalence of ecstasy/MDMA use. Demographic and other substance use characteristics were analyzed among the subsample of self-reported ecstasy/MDMA users and linear trends were examined over time using Taylor series estimation methods. Results showed the annual prevalence of self-reported ecstasy/MDMA use ranged from 2.2% to 2.6% and did not significantly change over time. The majority of ecstasy/MDMA users identified as non-Hispanic White. Among ecstasy/MDMA users (N = 7,979), the most common age group was 18 to 25 –year-olds; this also remained consistent over time. The proportion of users aged 12-17 years increased decreased by 42.9% between 2007/08 and 2013/14 (p < 0.001), while the proportion of users aged 26-34 years increased by 31.5% (p = 0.027). The proportion of users with a college degree increased by 113.0% among the latter age group, from 11.5% in 2007/08 to 24.5% in 2013/14 (ps < 0.001). Nearly all (94.6%) ecstasy/MDMA users reported using at least one other substance in the past year. The proportion of users who also disclosed nonmedical opioid use decreased significantly between 2007/08 and 2013/14 (p < 0.001), while the proportion of users who disclosed past-year DMT/AMT/Foxy use increased significantly (p < 0.001) during the same period. The authors postulate the availability of ecstasy/MDMA may be increasing among college students; however, perceived availability of this substance was not assessed in this study.

Take away: Although the prevalence of self-reported ecstasy/MDMA use remained stable and relatively low from 2007-2014 (about 2.5%), the proportion of users with college educations increased by 113%. Polysubstance use was common among ecstasy/MDMA users.

Citation: Palamar JJ, Mauro PM, Han BH, et al. (2017). Shifting characteristics of ecstasy users ages 12–34 in the United States, 2007–2014 [published online ahead of print October 6 2017], Drug and Alcohol Dependence doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.09.011

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