Hug Drug or Thug Drug? Ecstasy Use and Aggressive Behavior

Department of Sociology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.
Violence and Victims (Impact Factor: 1.28). 02/2007; 22(1):104-19. DOI: 10.1891/088667007780482892
Source: PubMed


While clinical studies have established a link between aggression and ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymeth-amphetamine [MDMA]), no research has attempted to explore how this link manifests itself in behavioral outcomes. In this research we examine the effects of ecstasy on aggressive and violent behavior in a sample of active users. Data were collected from 260 ecstasy users in Atlanta, Georgia. Data analysis included ordered logit regression to examine the likelihood of engaging in aggressive behavior, controlling for key predictors of aggression independent of ecstasy use. Our results indicate that those with a higher prevalence of lifetime ecstasy use exhibit higher levels of aggressive and violent behavior. However, the effect of lifetime ecstasy use differs by levels of low self-control as a measure of propensity for aggression. Those who exhibit low self-control are more affected by ecstasy use than those who do not in terms of aggression. Our findings add an important dimension to our current knowledge about the relationship between aggression and ecstasy.

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    • "For some empirical descriptions of aggression induced by MDMA, see the ecstasy/MDMA review article entitled " Hug Drug or Thug Drug " by Reid et al. (2007). Other similar articles are listed in Parrott (2013b), including a psychiatric study by Rugani et al. (2012), who reported: " Psychosis with a high level of aggressiveness and violence constitutes an important 'side-effect' that surely runs counter to the expected entactogenic actions of ecstasy. "
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    ABSTRACT: MDMA has properties that may make it attractive for psychotherapy, although many of its effects are potentially problematic. These contrasting effects will be critically reviewed in order to assess whether MDMA could be safe for clinical usage. Early studies from the 1980s noted that MDMA was an entactogen, engendering feelings of love and warmth. However, negative experiences can also occur with MDMA since it is not selective in the thoughts or emotions it releases. This unpredictability in the psychological material released is similar to another serotonergic drug, LSD. Acute MDMA has powerful neurohormonal effects, increasing cortisol, oxytocin, testosterone, and other hormone levels. The release of oxytocin may facilitate psychotherapy, whereas cortisol may increase stress and be counterproductive. MDMA administration is followed by a period of neurochemical recovery, when low serotonin levels are often accompanied by lethargy and depression. Regular usage can also lead to serotonergic neurotoxicity, memory problems, and other psychobiological problems. Proponents of MDMA-assisted therapy state that it should only be used for reactive disorders (such as PTSD) since it can exacerbate distress in those with a prior psychiatric history. Overall, many issues need to be considered when debating the relative benefits and dangers of using MDMA for psychotherapy.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of psychoactive drugs
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    • "Curran et al. (2004) reported increased feelings of aggression and behavioural aggression, in the days following MDMA. Their article was entitled 'Empathy and aggression: two faces of ecstasy?' Reid et al. (2007) wrote a literature review entitled 'Hug drug or thug drug? Ecstasy use and aggressive behaviour.' "
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    ABSTRACT: Human Psychopharmacology recently published my review into the increase in empirical knowledge about the human psychobiology of MDMA over the past 25 years (Parrott, 2013a). Deficits have been demonstrated in retrospective memory, prospective memory, higher cognition, complex visual processing, sleep architecture, sleep apnoea, pain, neurohormonal activity, and psychiatric status. Neuroimaging studies have shown serotonergic deficits, which are associated with lifetime Ecstasy/MDMA usage, and degree of neurocognitive impairment. Basic psychological skills remain intact. Ecstasy/MDMA use by pregnant mothers leads to psychomotor impairments in the children. Hence, the damaging effects of Ecstasy/MDMA were far more widespread than was realized a few years ago. In their critique of my review, Doblin et al. (2014) argued that my review contained misstatements, omitted contrary findings, and recited dated misconceptions. In this reply, I have answered all the points they raised. I have been able to refute each of their criticisms by citing the relevant empirical data, since many of their points were based on inaccurate summaries of the actual research findings. Doblin and colleagues are proponents of the use of MDMA for drug-assisted psychotherapy, and their strongest criticisms were focused on my concerns about this proposal. However, again all the issues I raised were based on sound empirical evidence or theoretical understanding. Indeed I would recommend potentially far safer co-drugs such as D-cycloserine or oxytocin. In summary, MDMA can induce a wide range of neuropsychobiological changes, many of which are damaging to humans. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Human Psychopharmacology Clinical and Experimental
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    • "Other youths in the Bay Area seem to concur with this estimation of the effects of " pills. " For a writing workshop in the Alameda County juvenile justice system that serves the city of Oakland, one youth wrote, " Whatever mood you in, the pill gives you more of that feeling/So if you mad and violent then you might go start killin' " (Reid et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: The drug "Ecstasy" has been most commonly associated with raves, or electronic music dance events, and attributed with sexual disinhibition. In an ethnographic investigation of drug use among second-generation Southeast Asian youth in Northern California (2003), respondents described little use of or interest in using Ecstasy; yet in a second study, Ecstasy was the fourth most commonly-used substance. This paper investigates the social contexts for this change in use patterns. Respondents were second-generation Southeast Asian youths and young adults between the ages of 15 and 26 who were currently or recently drug-involved. We compared qualitative data from the two studies and found emerging patterns of meaning and context related to the observed change in use patterns. Ecstasy use among co-resident African American youth within the context of the local "hyphy" hip-hop music subculture had influenced Southeast Asian youths' uptake of the drug, known as "thizz." Respondents referred to the effects of the drug as "thizzin'," described as energizing, disinhibiting, numbing, and emotion enhancing. Reported consequences of "thizzin'" included violence and aggression as well as fun, while sexual disinhibition was rarely mentioned. The meanings assigned to drugs, including the effects ascribed to them, may be relative to the social contexts within which users are exposed to and consume drugs. The findings indicate the susceptibility of youths to local trends in drug use, particularly associated with popular cultural movements and music. Second-generation youths may be particularly susceptible relative to the conditions of their immigration and processes of identity formation unique to them.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Addiction Research and Theory
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