Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use Among African Americans Who Use MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): Implications for Risk Reduction

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Opioids, Stimulants, Benzodiazepines, MDMA, Ecstasy/molly, African Americans

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Recent data suggest that both nonmedical prescription drug and MDMA (ecstasy/molly) use have risen among African Americans. However, studies investigating these two forms of drug use among African Americans are rare. As a result, very little is known about African-American MDMA users and their nonmedical use of prescription medications. The primary goal of this study, therefore, was to describe patterns of nonmedical prescription drug use among African Americans who use MDMA. We also assessed alcohol and illicit drug use among the sample. Surveys (n = 100) and in-depth interviews (n = 15) were conducted with African-American young adults in Southwest Florida between August 2014 and November 2015. Survey results show that a significant proportion of the sample used MDMA in conjunction with prescription medications (benzodiazepines = 59%; opioids = 35%; stimulants = 13%). Qualitative findings suggest that benzodiazepine medications were used to alleviate MDMA comedown symptoms, opioids were used to achieve a different quality high, and stimulants were used to provide added energy throughout the night. These results suggest that treatment practitioners and harm reduction professionals should pay particular attention to informing users of the potential hazards of combining MDMA with prescription medications. Although additional research is clearly needed, these findings are an important first step towards understanding both nonmedical prescription drug and MDMA use among African Americans, and could be used to tailor treatment and risk reduction interventions to this population.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Addictive Behaviors, v. 79, p, 159-165