What is the prevalence of MDMA toxicity in the US?

Updated: May 30, 2020
  • Author: In-Hei Hahn, MD, FACEP, FACMT; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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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. 

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that from 2015 to 2017, lifetime MDMA use declined in those aged 12 to 17 years (from 1.4% to 1.0%) and in those 18 to 25 years old (from 13.1% to 12%), and increased in those 26 years and older (from 6.5% to 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%). [17]

The 2015–2018 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs) managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported an estimated 1.6 million U.S. adults aged ≥18 years reported past-year methamphetamine use; 52.9% had a methamphetamine use disorder, and 22.3% reported injecting methamphetamine within the past year. [18]

The 2018 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System reported 183 fatalies were attributed to MDMA. [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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