Introduction and Aims.
A significant proportion of young Australians engage in risky alcohol consumption, and an increasing minority are regular ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) users. Risky alcohol use, alone or in combination with ecstasy, is associated with a range of acute and chronic health risks.
The aim of this study was to document the incidence and some health-related correlates of alcohol use, and concurrent alcohol and ecstasy use, among a large, national sample of regular ecstasy users (REU) in Australia.
Design and Methods.
National, cross-sectional surveys of REU in Australia 2003-2008. Among REU in 2008 (n = 678) usual alcohol use, psychological distress and health-related quality of life were measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and Short Form-8 Survey respectively.
Among REU in 2008, 36% reported high-risk patterns of usual alcohol consumption, 62% reported usually consuming more than five standard drinks with ecstasy, and 24% reported currently experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress.
Controlling for age and education, high-risk drinking among REU was associated with higher levels of psychological distress and poorer health-related functioning; however, the associations between concurrent alcohol and ecstasy use, and health outcomes, were not significant (P > 0.05).
Discussion and Conclusions.
A large and increasing proportion of REU in Australia engage in high-risk patterns of alcohol consumption, including in combination with ecstasy.
High-risk alcohol consumption among this group is associated with adverse health-related outcomes. Prevention and harm reduction interventions for REU should incorporate messages about the risks associated with alcohol use.
There is an ongoing need for youth-specific, coordinated alcohol and other drug and mental health services.