The role of an international nightlife resort in the proliferation of recreational drugs

Addiction. 2003 Dec;98(12):1713-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2003.00554.x.


Aims: The study compares types, frequencies and quantities of substances used by young people while holidaying in the international dance resort of Ibiza (Spain) with their patterns of use in the United Kingdom. It measures changes in substance use at both locations between 1999 and 2002 and examines the role of dance resorts in recruiting individuals into using new substances.

Design: Data were collected from visitors to Ibiza in 1999 (n = 846) and 2002 (n = 868). Information on drug use was surveyed through a short anonymous questionnaire.

Setting: Individuals were sampled at Ibiza airport just prior to returning to the UK.

Findings: Most individuals visiting Ibiza used illicit drugs in the United Kingdom (57.4% in 2002), with nearly all users continuing to use in Ibiza. Use of most drugs in Ibiza was characterized by binge behaviour, with many individuals using drugs 5 or more nights per week. Proportions using cocaine, ecstasy and GHB have risen significantly (1999-2002) in both locations, as have numbers of ecstasy tablets taken on a usual night. Substance use was associated positively with number of previous visits to Ibiza and new users were recruited into use while abroad (17.4 and 33.1 per 1000 people were introduced to cocaine and ecstasy use, respectively, in Ibiza).

Conclusions: The emergence of international nightlife resorts increasingly links drug use abroad with that in individuals' countries of origin. Our results indicate that resorts such as Ibiza offer tourists the opportunity to increase levels of drug consumption and try different substances in an atmosphere conducive to experimentation. Patterns of recreational drug use in leading international resorts may help predict developments in drug use elsewhere and as such be an important tool in planning appropriate interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens
  • Holidays*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • Male
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transients and Migrants
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Hallucinogens
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine