Shifting awareness among electronic dance music party attendees that drugs may contain fentanyl or other adulterants

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Nov;97:103353. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103353. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Background: Drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, and counterfeit prescription pills can contain fentanyl. We examined knowledge about potential adulteration/contamination of such drugs among people attending electronic dance music (EDM) parties.

Methods: Adults in New York City were surveyed entering randomly selected EDM parties during the summers of 2018 (n=1,029) and 2019 (n=559). Surveys assessed perceptions that: 1) ecstasy/Molly can contain adulterants more dangerous than MDMA, 2) cocaine can contain fentanyl, and 3) prescription pills from non-pharmacy sources can contain fentanyl. We compared prevalence of perceptions between 2018 and 2019.

Results: Prevalence of agreeing that cocaine can contain fentanyl increased from 42.1% to 58.6%, a 39.2% increase (p=.003). Increases in agreement were not significant regarding ecstasy potentially containing adulterants (55.0% vs. 59.0%) and non-pharmacy prescription drugs potentially containing fentanyl (46.8% vs. 52.9%). Those reporting past-year ecstasy use in particular reported increased agreement that ecstasy can be adulterated (from 52.9% to 80.0%, a 51.2% increase; p<.001) and those reporting past-year cocaine use reported increased agreement that cocaine can be adulterated (from 48.2% to 70.7%, a 46.7% increase; p=.016).

Conclusions: Knowledge of potential adulteration or contamination of commonly used drugs in this high-risk scene is increasing. Continued education about possible drug contents is needed.

Keywords: Adulteration; Cocaine; Ecstasy; Fentanyl; Prescription drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dancing*
  • Electronics
  • Fentanyl
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Music*
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Fentanyl