Calculating the risk: recreational drug use among clubbers in the South East of England.

Deehan, Anne & Saville, Esther.
Home Office: Building a safe, just and tolerant society


This report presents the key findings from a research study exploring recreational drug and alcohol use among young people who attend mainstream commercial nightclubs. Illicit drugs have been associated with the dance and ‘rave’ culture since its emergence in the late 1980s, but with the expansion of the nightclub industry and the resulting commercialisation of the dance ‘scene’ it has been suggested that more young people are now experimenting with illicit drugs. While researchers have studied patterns of illicit drug use amongst young clubbers (Measham et al, 2000; O’Hagan, 1999; Crew 2000; Brannigan, 1997 and Release 1996) very little nformation is available about alcohol use.

This study specifically focuses on those who attend mainstream nightclubs to assess to what extent these club-goers use illicit drugs, the role of drugs in the ‘dance’ culture and the strategies drug-using club-goers use to minimise the risks associated with drugs. Although, the focus is on the use of illicit drugs the report also examines alcohol and, to a lesser extent, tobacco use among this sub-group.

Key findings
The study combined a quantitative interview survey of 760 club-goers in six venues (eight events) across the South East of England with in-depth interviews with 26 drug-using club-goers.