Substance Use and Attendance Motives of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Event Attendees: A Survey Study

EDM event attendees are a high-risk population for substance use and associated adverse effects. The aim of this study was to examine substance use at EDM events, focusing on associations between attendance motives and substance use. Sociodemographic characteristics, event specifics, past-year use, and attendance motives were assessed through an online survey. Participants were 1345 Belgian EDM event attendees (69.44% male, Mage = 22.63, SDage = 4.03). Ecstasy/MDMA/Molly (52.28%), other synthetic hallucinogens (53.68%), ketamine (42.13%), amphetamines (40.45%), and alkyl nitrites (poppers) (32.76%) were most frequently used at festivals/outdoor parties/raves. In nightclubs, cocaine (32.29%) was shown to be prevalent as well, while other synthetic hallucinogens (15.79%) were less often consumed. At events with a more private character, cannabis (68.88%) and magic mushrooms (66.44%) were most frequently used. Aside from alcohol (47.76%), substance use in pubs/bars was negligible. Overall enjoyment was demonstrated to be the key attendance motive, which was succeeded by those relating to music and socialization. A wide range of motives proved to be more important to users (e.g., dance, exploration, escapism, excitement, alcohol, drugs) than non-users, while some were associated with the use of particular substances. The prevalence of substance use was shown to be dependent on the specifics of the setting. Moreover, the idea of a three-dimensional classification of the most principal motives for music event attendance was supported. Finally, correlations were estimated between attendance motives and substance use as well as specific substances. Results could enable more tailored approaches in prevention and harm reduction efforts as well as event management strategies.


EDM; attendance motives; drugs; electronic dance music; motivation; nightlife; substance use.

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