Trends in drug use among nightclub and festival attendees in New York City, 2017-2022


Drug use is prevalent among people who attend electronic dance music (EDM) parties at nightclubs or festivals. This population can serve as a sentinel population to monitor trends in use of party drugs and new psychoactive substances (NPS) that may diffuse through larger segments of the population.


We surveyed adults entering randomly selected EDM parties at nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City about their drug use in 2017 (n=954), 2018 (n=1,029), 2019 (n=606), 2021 (n=229), and 2022 (n=419). We estimated trends in past-year and past-month use of 22 drugs or drug classes based on self-report from 2017-2022 and examined whether there were shifts pre- vs. post-COVID (2017-2019 vs. 2021-2022).


Between 2017 and 2022, there were increases in past-year and past-month use of shrooms (psilocybin), ketamine, poppers (amyl/butyl nitrites), synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”), and novel psychedelics (lysergamides and DOx series), increases in past-year cannabis use, and increases in past-month use of 2C series drugs. Between 2017 and 2022, there were decreases in past-year heroin use and decreases in past-month cocaine use, novel stimulant use, and nonmedical benzodiazepine use. The odds of use of shrooms, poppers, and 2C series drugs significantly increased after COVID, and the odds of use of cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamine, novel stimulants, and prescription opioids (nonmedical use) decreased post-COVID.


We estimate shifts in prevalence of various drugs among this sentinel population, which can inform ongoing surveillance efforts and public health response in this and the general populations.


Club drugs; Epidemiology; Ketamine; Methamphetamine; New psychoactive substances.

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