Increasing alarm is shown regarding patterns of polydrug use among young people, particularly regarding recreational drugs. Prevalence of recreational drug usage in Europe is not clearly defined, varying for ecstasy, from 0.2% (Finland, 1995) to 9.2% (UK, 1995) and suggesting a tendency to increase in the last years. The aim of this study is to present patterns of polydrug use among a sample of the general population of young males in Piedmont (Northern Italy), focusing particularly on ecstasy consumption. A cross sectional study was carried out between September and November 1998 on a continuous sample of 3274 18-year-old conscripts. A self-administered anonymous questionnaire on socio–demographic characteristics and substances use was submitted during routine tests. Results showed that the overall lifetime prevalence of drug use is 36.6%; prevalence of polydrug use is 30% and the more frequently associated drugs are LSD, cocaine, inhalants and ecstasy. One hundred and forty five (4.6%) subjects reported having taken ecstasy at least once in their life; 20 of the 145 (13.8%) suffered from negative effects and three (2%) presented to a hospital or to a physician. The risk of ever taking ecstasy is inversely related to father's education, with a trend that is quite similar to that of heroin consumption but that is different from the trend for cannabis. In conclusion the four major results of this study are: (i) a prevalence of drug consumption similar to other European estimates, with a clear tendency to polydrug use; (ii) for ecstasy, a very high association rate with other substances; (iii) the moderately high prevalence of self-reported symptoms, and (iv) a social distribution of use similar to the one observed for heroin. This last consideration suggests that a high level of attention and further research should be addressed to the natural history of ecstasy use.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2001
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