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An investigation of the subacute effects of ecstasy on neuropsychological performance, sleep and mood in regular ecstasy users

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 18:23 authored by A Pirona, M J Morgan
The aim of this study was to differentiate the subacute from the chronic effects of ecstasy. Regular ecstasy users who subsequently chose to take ecstasy (experimental group: E, N = 16) were compared with regular ecstasy users who opted not to (control group: C, N = 16). Groups were assessed with neuropsychological and psychometric measures at drug-free baseline before ecstasy use and 1 and 4 days after use. Ecstasy users who consumed ecstasy (E) did not differ from those who did not (C) in relation to age, estimated IQ, personality or past substance use, including ecstasy. At baseline, E reported being more energetic, lively and cheerful whereas the day after ecstasy use they reported being more muddled, afraid, sad and dejected than C. However, this was not significant after controlling for sleep deprivation. Mood returned to baseline within 3 days and there were no group differences in Beck depression inventory scores at any of the three testing sessions. There were no subacute effects of ecstasy on working memory, story recall, impulsivity, or decision-making. However, at baseline and the day after use ecstasy users made poorer decisions, and were less sensitive to punishment, in the Somatic marker sensitivity test. These findings suggest that previous reports of marked subacute effects of ecstasy use may have been confounded by chronic polydrug use before use, co-substance use and sleep disturbances after use.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Psychopharmacology







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Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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