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

Joseph J. Palamar, Patricia Acosta, Scott Sherman, Danielle C. Ompad, Charles M. Cleland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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/MD.MA/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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-632
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Novel psychoactive substances
  • nightclubs
  • synthetic cannabinoids
  • synthetic cathinones
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-reported use of novel psychoactive substances among attendees of electronic dance music venues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this