Illicit drug use among rave attendees in a nationally representative sample of US high school seniors

Joseph J. Palamar, Marybec Griffin-Tomas, Danielle C. Ompad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The popularity of electronic dance music and rave parties such as dance festivals has increased in recent years. Targeted samples of party-goers suggest high rates of drug use among attendees, but few nationally representative studies have examined these associations. Methods: We examined sociodemographic correlates of rave attendance and relationships between rave attendance and recent (12-month) use of various drugs in a representative sample of US high school seniors (modal age: 18) from the Monitoring the Future study (2011-2013; Weighted N=7373). Results: One out of five students (19.8%) reported ever attending a rave, and 7.7% reported attending at least monthly. Females and highly religious students were less likely to attend raves, and Hispanics, students residing in cities, students with higher income and those who go out for fun multiple times per week were more likely to attend. Rave attendees were more likely than non-attendees to report use of an illicit drug other than marijuana (35.5% vs. 15.6%, p<. 0.0001). Attendees were more likely to report use of each of the 18 drugs assessed, and attendees were more likely to report more frequent use (≥6 times) of each drug (ps. <. 0.0001). Controlling for sociodemographic covariates, frequent attendance (monthly or more often) was associated with higher odds of use of each drug (ps. <. 0.0001). Frequent attendees were at highest risk for use of "club drugs.". Discussion: Findings from this study can help inform prevention and harm reduction among rave attendees at greatest risk for drug use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Adolescents
  • Club drugs
  • Dance festivals
  • Raves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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