What is the prevalence of MDMA toxicity in the US?

Updated: Dec 20, 2017
  • Author: In-Hei Hahn, MD, FACEP, FACMT; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

Although various estimates have been given on the extent of current illicit MDMA use in the United States and western Europe, the exact prevalence remains unknown. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.9% of those aged 12 years and older had reported using MDMA at least once in their lifetimes. [16]

Estimates by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) showed a steady increase in emergency department (ED) visits related to MDMA abuse: 421 ED visits in 1995; 4,026 in 2002; 10,752 in 2005; and 22,498 in 2011. [17] These numbers were collected from participating hospitals in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States and reflect trends of drug abuse and not national numbers. [18]

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that from 2015 to 2016, lifetime MDMA use declined in those aged 12 to 17 years (from 1.4% to 1.2%) and in those 18 to 25 years old (from 13.1% to 11.6%), and increased in those 26 years and older (from 6.5% to 6.7%). [16] However, a review of 2014 NIDA data by Palamar et al suggested that MDMA use by high school students may have been underreported, because of failure to include the term "Molly" on some survey forms. The surveys that included "Molly" in the definition of MDMA returned significantly higher rates of lifetime use (8.0% vs. 5.5%) and 12-month use (5.1% vs. 3.6%). [19]

In a survey conducted at a large university in the mid-Atlantic United States and published in 2006, 9% of students reported lifetime MDMA use; in addition, MDMA users were more likely than marijuana users to have used inhalants, LSD, cocaine, and heroin in the past year. [20]


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