Is ecstasy (MDMA) use associated with symptoms of anxiety or depression among incarcerated juvenile offenders?

Michael G. Vaughn, Matthew O. Howard, Mary P. Curtis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Adolescent ecstasy (MDMA) use in the U.S. has increased more than 230 percent over the past decade. Results from animal studies indicating that ecstasy is damaging to serotonin-releasing neurons and anecdotal reports describing persistent anxiety among heavy adult ecstasy users have led to growing concerns about the role ecstasy use may play in adolescent anxiety and depressive disorders. This study examined the prevalence of ecstasy use among 104 incarcerated youth and the associations of lifetime frequency of ecstasy use with various measures of current psychopathology. A total of 43 (41.3%) youth reported lifetime ecstasy use. Lifetime frequency of ecstasy use was significantly positively (r =.25, p <.05) associated with current severity of anxiety symptoms. Multiple linear regression models controlling for polydrug use revealed that ecstasy use might not be as uniquely harmful as initial animal, case, and media reports have suggested. Study limitations, practice implications, and future research directions relevant to ecstasy use among juvenile offenders are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJuvenile Offenders and Mental Illness
Subtitle of host publicationI Know Why the Caged Bird Cries
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317824879
ISBN (Print)0789030365, 9780789030368
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005 by Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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