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A New Survey Reveals Drug Use at Live Music Events

Earlier this year we reported a survey breaking down which drugs were used the most at music festivals. Aside from some un-surprising details about EDM festivals, it gives a glimpse into modern drug culture. Now, according to a study by, ravers and metalheads might have more in common than they once thought.

A survey of 976 people focused on drug use at music festivals and found something surprising. Not the 67% of EDM fans likely to be intoxicated at shows. More surprising is that metalheads come second, with 62% saying they imbibe drugs and alcohol at concerts. They beat out alternative, indie rock and reggae fans who were around 60% each.

The survey gives some fairly standard information too, such as the dominance of alcohol. Over 90% of respondents use alcohol, which is way more than the nearly 40% who use cannabis. Drugs like hallucinogens, MDMA and cocaine were less than 10% and opioids and benzos were around 3%. But the real obvious figure here is that nearly 60% of respondents use alcohol or drugs at live music events.

It even outlines some specifics

Which substances are used at which events is another focus of the survey. Alcohol sees heavy use, by more than half or nearly 60% of respondents, at heavy metal/alternative/EDM events. Around 30% of respondents from reggae, hip-hop/rap and EDM events report using cannabis. MDMA sees the highest use at EDM events, sitting at more than 25% of respondents.

EDM fans sit in top three for substance use in nearly every category, including opioids, hallucinogens and cocaine.  The survey even goes into the ages people started using drugs and alcohol at concerts. EDM and heavy metal are the youngest (19-20), followed closely by classic rock, reggae, hip-hop/rap and alternative music. As one might expect, genres like jazz, blues and classical music come in latest between 24 and 25 years of age.

When it comes to the reasons why people use drugs at shows, EDM fans have variety. To enhance enjoyment (77%) and increase energy (41%) are the two biggest reasons, while connecting with the artist (31%) and experimenting (25%) sit as noteworthy reasons.

The survey ends with a note that it’s indeed possible to stay sober at music events. They report that in 2017 the number of deaths related to drugs rose from 63,632 in 2016 to 72,306. That’s nearly 10,000 more deaths in the span of a year. From these numbers, it seems drug use is fairly pervasive. If restricting drugs isn’t working, perhaps it’s time to start reducing the harm they cause.

What do you think of the survey? Do you think it reflects substance use at EDM events? Let us know on Twitter, @DanceMusicNW!

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