INTRODUCTION: Individuals who visit nightclubs and electronic dance music (EDM) festivals tend to use psychoactive substances, often multiple substances, in this setting and are at risk of serious negative health effects. This paper aims to explore respondents’ experiences and perceptions in order to have a better understanding of patterns and motives related to psychoactive substance use and high-risk behaviours in EDM event attendees.
METHODS: In-depth and focus group interviews with 30 EDM event attendees who reported psychoactive substance use at nightlife events. The data was analysed using the Nvivo-v.10 software.
RESULTS: Mixing multiple substances to get the desired effects was common. Ecstasy was often combined with Jager (alcohol). Drug use in nightlife settings occurred in a group of friends and was perceived as an essential part of having a good time. Most participants reported that they did not use drugs outside nightlife settings. The dangerous synthetic hallucinogen NBOMe was still on the scene. The respondents had a very low level of knowledge about, and perception of, the risks associated with drug consumption. Knowledge about risk minimisation strategies was very low or non-existent.
CONCLUSIONS: Polydrug use and a lack of perceived harmful effects put drug-using nightlife attendees at increased risk of negative health consequences. Future research should focus on identifying strategies to raise the awareness of people who use drugs in nightlife settings and encourage them to employ health protection strategies. Using the social network infrastructure can be thought of as one potentially beneficial approach.