Publications & Reports

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

Kinner SA, George J, Johnston J, Dunn M, Degenhardt L
Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia National Drug Research


Introduction and Aims. 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.

Design and Methods. 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.

Results. 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).

Discussion and Conclusions. 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.


  • Journal: Drug and Alcohol Review
  • Published: 01/05/2012
  • Volume: 31
  • Issue: 3
  • Pagination: 273-280