Patterns of recreational drug use at dance events in Edinburgh, Scotland

Addiction. 2001 Jul;96(7):1035-47. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2001.967103513.x.


Aims: To describe the patterns of drug use at dance (rave) events in terms of prevalence, frequency, type of drugs used, patterns of use, access and risk-associated behaviours.

Design: Self-selecting participant-completed survey.

Setting: Three dance events in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Participants: One hundred and twenty-two drug users (57% males, 43% females), 90% of whom were in employment or education, with an age range of 16-47, 80% between 18 and 23 years.

Measurements: Participants who answered 'yes' to the question 'Have you used drugs for dance events in the past year' reported (i) the prevalence, types and frequency of drugs used; (ii) prevalence and contents of mixing drugs; (iii) accessing drugs; and (iv) engagement with drug-associated risk behaviours.

Findings: Over 80% of the participants had used ecstasy and amphetamine, over 30% cocaine and LSD; over 10% nitrites, psilocybin and ketamine and less than 5% had used crack or tranquillizers. Participants reported regular consumption of ecstasy and amphetamine (e.g. 35% used ecstasy and 25% amphetamine on a weekly basis) often taken in combination, with the occasional use of cocaine, LSD, ketamine and psilocybin. Poly- and mixing-drug behaviours were significantly more likely than monodrug usage. Drugs were accessed through friends than from any other source. Eighty-five per cent reported mixing drugs and/or alcohol, 35% driving on drugs, 36% having a bad experience on drugs; 30% unprotected sex; and 0.9% injecting drugs. Women in the sample reported higher consumption than men.

Conclusions: Dance-drug use has a characteristic pattern that has implications for health promotion and criminal policy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Illicit Drugs