Self-reported use of novel psychoactive substances among attendees of electronic dance music venues

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016 Nov;42(6):624-632. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2016.1181179. Epub 2016 Jun 17.


Background: Novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) continue to emerge in the United States and worldwide. Few epidemiological studies have examined the prevalence and correlates of use.

Objective: We examined the extent of NPS use in a high-risk population-attendees of electronic dance music (EDM) parties at nightclubs and festivals.

Methods: We surveyed 682 adults (age 18-25) entering EDM events at nightclubs and festivals in New York City (NYC) in 2015. A variation of time-space sampling was used. We examined the prevalence of self-reported use of 196 NPS and correlates of any NPS use.

Results: Over a third (35.1%) of participants reported lifetime use of any NPS. Self-reported use of synthetic cannabinoids was most prevalent (16.3%), followed by psychedelic phenethylamines (14.7%; 2C series: 10.3%, 2-(4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-N-[(2-methoxyphenyl)methyl]ethanamine [NBOMe] series: 9.0%, Dox series: 3.5%), synthetic cathinones ("bath salts", 6.9%), other psychedelics (6.6%), tryptamines (5.1%), and dissociatives (4.3%). 2C-I was the most prevalent 2C series drug (5.1%); methylone was the most prevalent synthetic cathinone (3.3%), 2-MeO-ketamine was the most prevalent dissociative (3.7%), and 1P-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (2.9%) was the most prevalent non-phenethylamine psychedelic. Risk factors for NPS use included Ecstasy/MDMA/Molly, LSD, and ketamine use; identifying as bisexual (compared to heterosexual), reporting higher frequency of nightclub/festival attendance, and being surveyed outside of a festival (compared to those surveyed outside of nightclubs).

Discussion: NPS use is prevalent in the nightclub and festival scenes in NYC. Since individuals in these scenes-especially frequent attendees-are at high risk for use, prevention and harm reduction services need to be geared toward this population.

Keywords: Novel psychoactive substances; nightclubs; synthetic cannabinoids; synthetic cathinones; young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality
  • Dancing
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Music
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Space-Time Clustering
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Psychotropic Drugs