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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2012 May;31(3):273-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2011.00348.x. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Pills and pints: risky drinking and alcohol-related harms among regular ecstasy users in Australia.

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Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia.



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.


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).


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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