According to research carried out by Ramo et al., (2013), individuals who have experienced childhood emotional neglect, as well as physical neglect and abuse are significantly more likely to become users of ecstasy (MDMA) than those fortunate enough to have experienced relatively stable and loving childhoods. Many users report using ecstasy (MDMA) to reduce feelings of depression, ameliorate worries and ‘mentally escape.‘
It is not surprising, therefore, that the use of ecstasy (MDMA) is also associated with anxiety and depressive conditions and research (e.g. Scott et al., 2013)suggests that, in order to reduce the use of ecstasy (MDMA) in such individuals, it is important to address their motives for taking the drug such as for self-medication and for a way of trying to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression deriving from stressful life events. One way, the researchers suggest, to address this problem is by providing those young people affected with coping skills training for managing stressful life events.
Other researchers have come to similar conclusions. For example, Carliner et al., 2016, suggest that in order to reduce the risk that adolescents who have suffered traumatic experiences using ecstasy as a way of coping they should be provided with trauma-focused therapy which includes helping them to healthily process traumatic memories.
Finally, research conducted by Singer et al., 2003, found that older adolescent MDMA users (with an average age of 20 years) were more likely to have experienced adverse childhood experiences such as physical abuse, emotional neglect and/or physical neglect. Furthermore, they were at increased risk of taking other substances, indulged in more risky sexual behaviours and showed more symptoms of psychological distress than non-MDMA users.
Carliner H, Keyes KM, McLaughlin KA, Meyers JL, Dunn EC, Martins SS. Childhood Trauma and Illicit Drug Use in Adolescence: A Population-Based National Comorbidity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement Study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016;55(8):701-708. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2016.05.010