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Crime and Violence among MDMA Users in the United States

1 School of Social Work, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63103, United States;
2 School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, United States;
3 Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50013, United States;
4 School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States

The question of whether MDMA use is associated with increased crime and violence has not been adequately explored especially in nationally representative samples. This study used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to assess the association between MDMA use and violent and non-violent antisocial behavior while controlling for sociodemographic variables, lifetime psychiatric, alcohol and drug use disorders, and family history of antisocial behavior. MDMA users, both male and female, were involved in a number of crimes in acts of violence including drunk driving, shoplifting, theft, intimate partner violence, and fighting. Notably, female MDMA users were more antisocial than male non-MDMA users. Although adjusting the results for numerous confounds attenuated the relationships, MDMA users were still at significantly greater odds of engaging in violent and nonviolent crime than non-MDMA users. Although MDMA has been considered a facilitator of empathy and closeness, the current study suggests a dark side as MDMA is associated with a broad array of crimes and transgressions. Additional tests of the MDMA-crime link are needed to properly inform policy.
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