Dance Club Scene Rife With Opioid Abuse

Dance Club Scene Rife With Opioid Abuse

Ecstasy and molly have other deadly company on the club drug scene. A new study finds odds of opioid misuse are higher than average among electronic dance music devotees.

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Of almost 1,000 EDM partygoers questioned in New York City last summer, about 1 in 10 said they had misused opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin and heroin in the previous year.

"We've always known that electronic dance music party attendees are at high risk for use of club drugs such as ecstasy or molly, but we wanted to know the extent of opioid use in this population," said study author Joseph Palamar. He's an associate professor of population health at New York University School of Medicine.

OxyContin (oxycodone) was the most widely used opioid painkiller among the 19- to 40-year-olds, followed by Vicodin (hydrocodone), Percocet, codeine and purple drank, which is typically a codeine-laced cough syrup (other names include sizzurp and lean).

The 10 percent rate of past-year opioid misuse is more than twice the national rate of 4 percent among Americans 18 and older, the researchers noted.

Study participants were surveyed as they entered electronic dance music parties at nightclubs and dance festivals. Nearly 24 percent reported opioid misuse in their lifetime, about 10 percent in the past year, and 5 percent in the past month.

Fifteen percent said they had snorted and 11 percent said they had injected opioids in the past year. Both methods increase the risk of addiction and abuse, the researchers said.

The study also found that past-month opioid use was more likely for cigarette smokers and those who used other drugs, including amphetamines, methamphetamine and cocaine. And partygoers who'd previously sampled opioids were much more likely to do so again if offered them in the future, according to the study.

With the United States in the midst of an opioid epidemic, the findings show that opioid prevention programs must target EDM partyers, the researchers said.

"This population of experienced drug users needs to be reached to prevent initiation and continued use [of opioids]," Palamar said in a university news release. If opioids are combined with other drugs, the risk of overdose increases, he added.

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In 2016, approximately 11.5 million Americans had misused prescription opioids, and 1.8 million met the criteria for addiction or abuse, the researchers pointed out.

The study was published online March 27 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on the opioid epidemic.


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