Is emotional intelligence impaired in ecstasy-polydrug users?

L Craig, J E Fisk, C Montgomery, P N Murphy, M Wareing
Journal of Psychopharmacology 2010, 24 (2): 221-31
Previous findings report use of the drug ecstasy (MDMA) to be associated with lower emotional intelligence (EI), and compromised functioning in brain areas responsible for emotion. This study explored the relationship between ecstasy use, EI, mood and parenting styles. Questionnaire measures of drug use, lifestyle, parenting style and EI were obtained, with separate IQ measures for fluid intelligence (Ravens matrices) and pre-morbid intelligence [National Adult Reading Test (NART)]. Current mood measures were obtained from an adjective checklist. The sample comprised 78 ecstasy/polydrug users, 38 cannabis only users and 34 non-drug users. Drug use was categorised at three levels (non-user, cannabis-only user and ecstasy-polydrug user). Factorial ANOVA using drug use as an independent variable showed no significant group effects in EI. EI showed significant correlations with current mood that were positive for arousal and negative for both anxiety and depression. EI was also significantly and positively correlated with the perceived degree of parental control. Regression analyses showed that these relationships remained significant after controlling for differences in IQ, age, gender, and ecstasy use. Adverse mood effects specifically associated with ecstasy use were significantly related to lower EI, and were independent of IQ, age and gender. Higher EI was significantly associated with ecstasy-related precautions used when taking this drug. Contrary to earlier findings, ecstasy-polydrug users did not differ from non-users on EI. However, self-reported ecstasy-related mood disturbances were related to lower EI, with the compromising of orbitofrontal cortical functioning being possible here.


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