Heavy "ecstasy" use is associated with increased impulsivity

F. Gerard Moeller, Donald M. Dougherty, Joel L. Steinberg, Alan C. Swann, Peter B. Silverman, Pedro Ruiz, Ernest S. Barratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: Methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), known to the public as "ecstasy," decreases serotonin function in animals. There is also some evidence that MDMA decreases serotonin function in humans, and thereby may increase impulsivity in MDMA abusers. Methods: Sixteen current MDMA users and 20 non-drug-using controls were recruited and completed a behavioral laboratory measure of impulsivity, the IMT/DMT, and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, a self-report measure of impulsivity. Results: Heavy MDMA users (n = 8) were significantly more impulsive on both behavioral laboratory and self-report measures of impulsivity, compared with non-drug-using controls. MDMA users who used MDMA infrequently were not significantly more impulsive than controls. Within MDMA-using subjects in general, there was a significant positive correlation between the quantity of self-reported MDMA use and behavioral laboratory-measured impulsivity. Conclusions: Heavy MDMA users show increased impulsivity. Among MDMA users, the level of impulsivity as measured in the behavioral laboratory is positively correlated with the level of self-reported MDMA use. The increased impulsivity did not appear to be solely related to concomitant drug use. This study gives further support for the idea that heavy MDMA use leads to increased impulsivity in humans. Further research is needed on the long-term effects of MDMA in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Disorders and their Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Impulsivity
  • MDMA
  • Serotonin
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Heavy "ecstasy" use is associated with increased impulsivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this