Users' perceptions of the risks and effects of taking ecstasy (MDMA): a questionnaire study

P. Murphy, M. Wareing, J. Fisk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This self-report questionnaire study examined ecstasy usersí perceptions of the risks associated with their use of ecstasy, their precautions against such risks, and its perceived effects on their lives. Gender differences in these areas were also explored. The sample comprised 328 ecstasy users (139 female, 187 male, one transsexual) with a mean age of 22.5 years (SD = 4.9 years). Questionnaires were completed either in hard copy or through a website concerned with ecstasy use. The results showed that friends were the most common source of information about ecstasy for the sample overall, although females were more likely to utilize this source than males. None of the .ve categories of perceived risk (e.g. psychiatric, physical) showed a signi.cant gender difference. Males were more likely to take rest breaks whilst females were more likely to limit consumption as a precaution against harm. Three factors emerged from a principal components analysis concerning perceived personal change since initiation of ecstasy use. Factor 1 (23.8% of the variance) concerned negative experiences (e.g. depression). Factor 2 (22.0% of the variance) concerned positive personal qualities (e.g. caring). Factor 3 (10.5% of the variance) concerned selective aspects of functioning (e.g. alertness). The pattern of Factor 1 and Factor 2 scores over time suggested that 6 years since initiation of ecstasy use might be a time when some long-term users may be open to reassess their use of the drug. Broader implications of the .ndings for health education initiatives aimed at ecstasy users are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-455
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


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