Teens at Raves Using Bevy of Drugs
“Rave” is the common term for dance parties centered on a form of music known as electronic dance music or EDM. Unfortunately, significant numbers of rave attendees use the dangerous, potentially addictive drug MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly) as part of their partygoing experience. In a study published in 2015 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from New York University and NYU-affiliated Langone Medical Center used data from an annual, nationwide project called Monitoring the Future to assess how often 12th graders attending raves consume drugs other than MDMA or marijuana.
High School Seniors and Drug Use
Monitoring the Future is a National Institute on Drug Abuse-sponsored survey that examines substance use trends among U.S. teenagers enrolled in eighth grade, 10th grade and 12th grade. Figures from the 2014 version of this survey indicate that roughly 39% of all American teens enrolled in 12th grade consume an illicit/illegal drug or a makeshift inhalant drug at least once a year. This rate of substance intake is significantly higher than the rate found among adolescents in 10th or eighth grade. By a wide margin, marijuana ranks as the most popular drug among high school seniors. However, roughly 16% of seniors consume a drug other than marijuana.
In descending order of use, other relatively popular illegal/illicit substances among 12th graders include Adderall and other stimulant medications used to treat ADHD, Vicodin and other opioid painkillers, synthetic marijuana, sedative-hypnotic medications classified as tranquilizers or sedatives, dextromethorphan-containing cough/cold medications, LSD and other hallucinogens, MDMA and cocaine. Overall, the rate of drug intake fell by a small margin between 2013 and 2014. Specific substances with a reduced level of intake among high school seniors in this timeframe include marijuana, synthetic marijuana, non-LSD hallucinogens, inhalants, prescription stimulants, opioid painkillers and MDMA.
The term “rave” applies broadly to any large party or gathering devoted to some sort of dance music. The origins of rave culture extend back to the late 1980s. Traditionally, this culture was largely populated by teenagers too young to gain entrance to establishments serving alcohol. For this and other reasons, rave events were often held in unsanctioned or unauthorized locations, rather than in nightclubs or other controlled environments. However, while teenagers still attend modern-day raves centered on electronic dance music, older adults now make up a larger percentage of the culture and events now often take place in regulated settings. MDMA use is heavily associated with rave attendance; however, MDMA intake among American teens has fallen considerably since the early 2000s.
Raves and the Use of Other Drugs
In the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the NYU and NYU Langone Medical Center researchers used data from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 versions of Monitoring the Future to determine how many American 12th graders have a current or past history of rave attendance. They used the same data to determine how often seniors with such a history consume 18 drugs other than marijuana and MDMA. The list of substances under consideration included LSD, methamphetamine and the “club drugs” GHB and ketamine. Altogether, 7,373 high school seniors submitted information to the project.
The researchers found that roughly 20% of the 12th graders attend raves now or attended raves in the past. Almost 8% of seniors were regular past or current rave participants and attended an event a minimum of once a month. Compared to their counterparts who did not attend raves, the participating group consumed an illicit/illegal drug roughly 20% more frequently. The rave-attending group had a higher rate of intake for each of the 18 included substances; in addition, they had a greater tendency to qualify as frequent users of each of the 18 substances.
The study’s authors concluded that an increased rate of illicit/illegal drug use is especially associated with regular rave attendance. Regular attendees also have the highest chances of consuming “club drugs,” also sometimes known as “date rape” drugs for their ability to produce incapacitation and defenselessness. Subgroups of 12th graders most likely to attend raves include city dwellers, people of Hispanic/Latino descent and people with access to disposable income.