A sample of drug users ( n = 158) were contacted and interviewed in non-clinical community settings about their use of Ecstasy, cocaine powder, and amphetamines and the adverse effects of these drugs. Subjects reported a wide range of adverse effects including anxiety problems, depression, mood swings, feelings of paranoia, and panic attacks. Sleep and appetite disturbances were the most commonly reported problems. About half of all subjects reported depression and paranoid feelings associated with their stimulant use. Many of those reporting problems stated that these were mild. However, for all drugs, a substantial minority of users reported adverse effects which they rated as ‘severe’. Between 30 and 55% of the sample reported having had at least one ‘severe’ adverse effect (30% cocaine, 35% Ecstasy and 55% amphetamine). There were clear differences between the different drugs in the likelihood and reported severity of adverse effects. Amphetamine use was associated with significantly more adverse effects and with more severe adverse effects than Ecstasy or cocaine. Cocaine powder was associated with the least severe adverse effects. A common pattern of drug use involved the use of depressant drugs such as opiates and benzodiazepines in addition to stimulants. The stimulant and depressant users were more likely than the stimulants-only users to use stimulants by injection and more likely to report adverse effects associated with stimulant use. The stimulant and depressant users were also more likely to have been treated for a drug problem. Approximately a quarter of the sample stated that they had stopped using stimulants up to the point of interview as a result of their bad experiences.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence – Elsevier
Published: Mar 14, 1997
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