Medical problems related to recreational drug use at nocturnal dance parties

Van Sassenbroeck DK, Calle PA, Rousseau FM, et al
European Journal of Emergency Medicine


During 'I love techno' (edition 2001), an indoor rave party attended by 37 000 people, data about medical problems (especially drug-related problems) were collected. To place these data in a wider perspective, a similar registration was done during 'De Nacht', a traditional New Year's Eve dance party held at the same location and attended by 12 000 people. Furthermore, a prospective study on the time course of the level of consciousness (Glasgow Coma Score) and blood concentrations of illicit drugs, especially gamma-hydroxybutyrate was set up. The results revealed that during 'I love techno' the incidence of medical problems was high (66.5/10 000 attendees), but not higher than during 'De Nacht' (70.0/10 000 attendees). At 'I love techno', however, mainly illicit drugs were used, more frequently leading to severe drug-related medical problems. The observations in patients with a drug-related medical problem who had taken gamma-hydroxybutyrate showed that for a given level of consciousness the gamma-hydroxybutyrate concentrations may show important differences, that the transition from coma (Glasgow Coma Score < or =7) to full recovery (Glasgow Coma Score 15) takes only 30-60 min (and only a small decrease in gamma-hydroxybutyrate concentrations), and that the time it takes before a comatose patient reaches the above-mentioned 'transition area' may be a few hours.