Repeated ecstasy (MDMA) use is reported to impair cognition and cause increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Yet, many relevant studies have failed to control for use of drugs other than MDMA, especially marijuana (THC). To address these confounding effects we compared behavioural performance of 11 MDMA/THC users, 15 THC users and 15 non-drug users matched for age and intellect. We tested the hypothesis that reported feelings of depression and anxiety and cognitive impairment (memory, executive function and decision making) are more severe in MDMA/THC users than in THC users. MDMA/THC users reported more intense feelings of depression and anxiety than THC users and non-drug users. Memory function was impaired in both groups of drug users. MDMA/THC users showed slower psychomotor speed and less mental flexibility than non-drug users. THC users exhibited less mental flexibility and performed worse on the decision making task compared to non-drug users but these functions were similar to those in MDMA/THC users. It was concluded that MDMA use is associated with increased feelings of depression and anxiety compared to THC users and non-drug users. THC users were impaired in some cognitive abilities to the same degree as MDMA/THC users, suggesting that some cognitive impairment attributed to MDMA is more likely due to concurrent THC use.
Lamers, C. T. J., Bechara, A., Rizzo, M., & Ramaekers, J. G. (2006). Cognitive function and mood in MDMA/THC users, THC users and non-drug using controls. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 20(2), 302-311. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881106059495