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Deadly Dancing: Drug Use Among Teen “Ravers” Considerably Higher

Even though it might just seem like innocent young fun, your teenager’s dancing shoes can lead them down a much darker road.

Music is often considered to be a “universal language”, connecting people with the emotions and ideas that are portrayed in its melodies and lyrics. Among many young people judging their peers and potential friendships, the genre of music that one listens to will usually be associated with the type of personality that they have. Teenagers will dress like their favorite rock stars, rappers, singers or performers, and you can see groups of them walking through the school halls or your local shopping mall, almost indistinguishable from one another in appearance. Many of these kids will do whatever it takes to fit in, even if their “friends” are doing things that are dangerous, harmful or illegal.

For decades, music concerts and nightclub parties have been associated with drug and alcohol use. From the marijuana and LSD of the Woodstock music festival in 1969 and the cocaine of the Discos in the 70’s, people gathering together and getting high while enjoying music has been going on for a long time. Add alcohol to this list, and a vast majority of music events are often hot spots of complete intoxication. There are, of course, plenty of people who don’t drink or use drugs at concerts. However, ask any person who goes to concerts regularly and it seems like those abstainers are few and far between.

Today, there is one group of music lovers who participates in some even riskier practices. Electronic Dance Music (EDM), also known as Techno music, seems to attract a younger crowd, and a more dangerous list of drugs. Ecstasy, Ketamine (a tranquilizer), GHB (also known as the “date-rape” drug for it’s ability to render people completely unconscious within a matter of minutes), LSD and Methamphetamine are the most popular drugs at an EDM party, also known as a “rave”. These raves are often held in nightclubs, where age limits might be able to help keep your underage child away from these dangerous elements. However, these raves are also held wherever they can fit a DJ and some speakers, such as abandoned warehouses, basements, even out in the middle of a field, far from any potentially necessary medical attention. And these parties don’t have any bouncers at the door checking IDs or patting people down for illegal substances. These are the parties that your kids might be attending.

I promise. We’re not doing anything bad.

And that is quite possibly true. A lot of the kids at these raves aren’t doing any drugs or drinking. However, according to a recent study by New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, a staggering number of them are, regardless of what your kids might tell you. Using data from “Monitoring the Future” (MTF), an ongoing nationwide study of the behavior and values demonstrated by American high school students, NYU’s researchers came to some rather dark conclusions.

Of the over 7,000 students surveyed by MTF between 2011-2013, around 20% of them reported ever having been to a rave, and 7.7% reported going to one at least once a month. High school seniors that live in metropolitan areas, and those with higher income, were more likely to go to these parties, but no demographic was found to not have attended a rave. Perhaps most shockingly, the study found that ravers were 20% more likely to use drugs other than marijuana or alcohol. The frequency of drug use increased with those who regularly attended these EDM parties.

Of 18 drugs assessed, each one was over twice as likely to be used by rave attendees than by non-attendees, with LSD, Ketamine, GHB and Methamphetamine being reported in even higher amounts. While the study did not include MDMA (also known as Ecstasy or “Molly”), one can only assume that, as it is an extremely popular drug among the rave scene, it also is used in increasing frequency at these parties. At any rate, the EDM scene is an environment where exposure to dangerous drugs is commonplace. The risks associated with these substances are increased exponentially when these parties are thrown without any safety precautions, like security or access to medical attention. The parties that most high school seniors are going to.

Is Your Teenager a “Raver”? – What To Look For

teen raves are a deadly combinationNot every young person who goes to a rave is going there to use drugs. Two-thirds of the kids surveyed for this study reported never using any drugs other than marijuana, a problem in its own right, but with considerably less physical risk associated than with “club” drugs. This study should not be used to label all music lovers or even EDM fans as “druggies” or “stoners”. But it does highlight a rising trend, as this music has become increasingly popular in the past couple of decades. Just because your teenager is going out to a dance party with some friends does not necessarily mean that he or she is going to be doing anything dangerous. But, it is best to be aware of the possibility, and educate yourself on what to watch out for.

Kids are always going to look for ways to hide certain things from their parents. It’s is a part of growing up and discovering their own personal identity. As parents, some of these things really shouldn’t concern us too much. But, when it comes to drug and alcohol use, we should most certainly be very actively concerned.

The best tool we have as parents is maintaining open lines of communication with our kids. They have to know that they can come to us with any problems that they might be having, without fear of angering us or “getting into trouble”. And, if they haven’t been engaging in any dangerous activities, we should allow them to talk with us without getting angry or wanting to punish them. The most important thing is that we actually listen to them and hear what they are telling us – giving them the respect that we want in return.

If your child wants to hide something from you, they are going to do their best to do so. If you think that they might be hiding drug use from you, checking their text messages for a few key words might not be a bad idea.

  • The Music – It is important to note that the music and the performers aren’t necessarily the bad guys in this equation. Some may promote the use of drugs, but a majority will tell you that their performances are about their talent, and would rather have people see them without the influence of mind-altering substances. That being said, look for words like dub, dubstep, trance, acid house, DJ, remix, drum ‘n’ bass, or trap.
  • The Party – That “all-nighter” your teenager was talking about might not be a late study session. Usually called a rave, you might hear something about a warehouse party, a forest party, a field party, a basement or a rager. Again, your child might not be participating in substance abuse a rave, but you can be sure that the chances of those dangerous “club” drugs showing up are much higher at these kinds of parties.
  • The Drugs – As usually, people have all manner of code words for drugs so that they can openly communicate with others about them without fear of getting caught. Here are some examples:
    • MDMA – Molly, ecstasy, E, Candy, Bean, Skittles, Rolls. The act of using MDMA also has some slang terms like rolling, flipping or candy flipping (when used together with LSD), being E-tarded, or raving.
    • LSD – Acid, trip, Captain Tripps, doses, tabs, or when in liquid form, droppers. Usage terms include tripping, dosing, dropping acid.
    • GHB – G, Georgia Home Boy, Liquid Ecstasy, Scoop. It can be found in liquid, powder or pill form. This is often known as a “date-rape” drug.
    • Ketamine – K, Special K, Vitamin K, Super Acid. Usage terms might include “getting lost in the K-Hole” or “going down the rabbit hole”, which refers to a user who has been physically incapacitated, but is still feeling the intense effects of this drug. For this reason, Ketamine has also been used as a date-rape drug.

This is just a small sampling of the many types of drugs that could find their way into your teenager’s hands. The best thing you can do to help your child to avoid these potential dangers is to educate them on these risks, and to help build the sense of self-confidence they need to stay on a healthy and more positive path. However, if you feel that your child might be experimenting with these dangerous substances, don’t hesitate. Seek professional help immediately. Every day that you wait is another chance that tomorrow will never come.

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