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.