The drug ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy,” “molly”) is thought to produce prosocial effects and enhance social interaction. However, in most laboratory studies to date, the participants have been tested under nonsocial conditions, which may not simulate the effects the drug produces in more naturalistic social settings.Methods
Healthy experienced MDMA users participated in three laboratory sessions in which they receivedMDMA (0.5 or 1.0 mg/kg or placebo, double blind). They were randomly assigned to one of three social conditions, in which they were tested alone (solitary (SOL); N = 10), in the presence of a research assistant (research assistant present (RAP); N = 11) or in the presence of another participant who also received the drug (other participant present (OPP); N = 11).Results
As expected, MDMA increased heart rate and blood pressure and produced positive subjective effects in all the three groups. It also increased ratings of attractiveness of another person and increased social interaction in RAP and OPP. The social context affected certain responses to the drug. The effects of MDMA were greater in the OPP condition, compared to the SOL or RAP conditions, on measures of “feel drug,” “dizzy,” and on cardiovascular. But responses to the drug on other measures, including social behavior, did not differ across the conditions.Conclusions
These findings provide some support for the idea that drugs produce greater effects when they are used in the presence of other drug users. However, the influence of the social context was modest, and it remains to be determined whether other variables related to social context would substantially alter the effects of MDMA or other drugs.