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Predicting Ecstasy Use Among Young People at Risk: A Prospective Study of Initially Ecstasy-Naive Subjects

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Education Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: 2008 Pages: 131-146
Hylke K.E. Vervaeke; Wim Van Den Brink; Dirk J. Korf; Annemieke Benschop
Date Published
16 pages
This Dutch study identified predictors of first-time ecstasy use in a prospective study among youth at risk.
Consistent with the literature (Zimmermann et al., 2005), this study found that cannabis use was a predictor of first-time ecstasy use. Findings also support intention as a key element in first-time ecstasy use. A desire to take the drug proved to be a critical factor in later ecstasy initiation. Low education also emerged as a predictor for ecstasy initiation. Peer group ecstasy use at baseline did not predict ecstasy initiation, a remarkable finding given the findings of the international literature. One possible explanation for this finding is that ecstasy use among peers did not become a differentiating factor for initiation until a point in time that was closer to their first use of ecstasy. The findings suggest that prevention activities that target individuals at risk of taking “club drugs” should focus on those with strong intentions to take the drug, especially if they are regular cannabis smokers. It is also important to target low-skilled youth, given the disproportionate involvement in first-time ecstasy use by youth with low education. As part of the multidisciplinary Netherlands XTC Toxicity Study (NeXT), the current study monitored 188 youth 18 years old and younger who had not used ecstasy at baseline, but seemed likely to begin using it in the near future. After an 11-26-month followup, 160 respondents were available for reinterviewing. At this time, the average age of the respondents was 21 years old; 58.1 percent of the followup sample was female. At baseline and four times during followup, respondents completed self-report questionnaires. Cox regression analysis was used to examine the effects of baseline respondent characteristics on incident ecstasy use in the followup period. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 44 references