May 20, 2015
2 min read

Use of drugs at music festivals, raves high among teens

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Despite overall drug use decreasing in the U.S., high school seniors who attend raves or music festivals, even sporadically, had a much higher likelihood of using illicit drugs, compared with those who never attended these events, according to recently published study results in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Use of each illicit drug other than marijuana was at least twice as prevalent among rave attendees, and the common ‘club drugs’ ketamine and GHB were both almost six-times more prevalent among attendees. Higher frequency of rave attendance was consistently associated with higher odds for reporting recent use of each of the drugs assessed,” Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, department of public health at New York University Langone Medical Center, said in a press release.

Palamar and colleagues used data from the Monitoring the Future study to assess the correlation between rave attendance and illicit drug use among high school seniors. In addition to assess students frequency of attending raves and music festivals, researchers evaluated student’s use of alcohol, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, LSD, non-LSD hallucinogens, salvia divinorum, powder cocaine, crack, ketamine, GHB, bath salts, methamphetamine, Rohypnol, heroin and recreational opioids.

Among the 7,373 participants, 19.8% had ever attended a rave, with 7.7% attending monthly.

Boys and non-religious students were more likely to attend raves, compared with girls and highly-religious students. Hispanic students were significantly more likely to attend raves than black or white students, as were students who lived in cities and students who reported going out multiple times per week.

Overall, illicit drug use, other than marijuana, was significantly higher among rave attendees, compared with non-attendees (P < .0001). Moreover, rave-attendees were at greater risk for use of all assessed drugs and were more likely to be frequent users (P < .0001). Students who attended raves at least once a month had increased odds of using assessed drugs (P < .0001).

Individuals who are at high-risk for drug use may benefit from better drug education, which would allow them to make more informed decisions regarding usage. Additionally, Palamar and colleagues also believe that drug testing services, either inside or outside of raves, may help to prevent drug use and help combat drug poisonings.

“These findings should not be used to pathologize or stereotype the growing popularity of rave attendance. Results should instead inform our prevention and much needed harm reduction efforts,” Palamar and colleagues wrote. – by Casey Hower

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.