Opioids are becoming increasingly popular among people in electronic dance music clubs, a new study warns.
Nearly 10 percent of them used opioids in the past year, which is more than double the national average of about four percent.
Researchers said, since the opioid crisis has made the drugs more accessible, it may seem logical that these addictive painkillers would spread into the EDM party scene.
The study, conducted by researchers at New York University, suggests that while night clubs and parties are already common sites for drug taking, this recent surge is a dangerous trend that shouldn’t be ignored.
Researchers said EDM partygoers have an increased risk of misusing opioid drugs
An estimated 11.5 million Americans have misused prescription opioids – such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, fentanyl, and heroin – in 2016, with 1.8 million meeting the criteria for dependence or abuse.
‘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 researcher Dr Joseph Palamar, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of population health at NYU School of Medicine.
For the study, researchers surveyed 954 people between the ages of 18 and 40 who were about to enter EDM parties at nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City.
They were asked about their recreational use of prescription opioids.
Their findings revealed that almost a quarter of EDM party attendees have used opioids nonmedically in their lifetime and one out of 10 (9.8 percent) did so in the past year, which is higher than the national prevalence of past-year use of approximately four percent of adults 18 and older. Meanwhile, five percent of respondents reported misusing opioids in the past month.
The most popular prescription opioid reported in this scene was OxyContin, which, like many prescription opioids, is used to relieve pain. Recreationally, it is abused for its euphoric effects, inducing relaxation and happiness.
This was followed by Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, and Purple Drank, also known as Sizzurp or Lean – which typically contains codeine syrup.
Meanwhile, about 15 percent of users also snorted and 11 percent have injected them in the past year, which increases the risk for overdose and dependence.
‘This population of experienced drug users needs to be reached to prevent initiation and continued use, which can lead to riskier and more frequent use, dependence, and deleterious outcomes such as overdose – particularly if opioids are combined with other drugs,’ Dr Palamar said.
Researchers also found that people who smoked cigarettes or used other drugs were more susceptible to opioid use.
People who smoke cigarettes or use other drugs, like amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine, were more likely to report misusing opioids in the past month.
‘Many individuals in this population are experienced with drugs such as ecstasy, but due to their experience with various drugs, they may underestimate the addictive potential of opioids, which are typically not used as “club” drugs,’ Dr Palamar added.
The US is in the midst of an overdose epidemic, and this study shows that it’s far from waning.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse more than 115 Americans die every day from opioid use.
Researchers of the current study also revealed that previous opioid use predicted the likelihood of someone reporting willingness to use if offered in the future.
Among non-users, 5.7 percent reported that they would take opioids if offered by a friend in the next month. However, among those who had taken the drugs in the past year, about 74 percent said they were willing to use it again.
Researchers are calling on people to pay attention to opioid use in this scene if they want to curb the crisis.
‘The population in general needs better education about opioids,’ Dr Palamar told Daily Mail Online. ‘Taking opioid pills is much different from taking ecstasy and it needs to be understood that opioids are not party drugs.’