Use of psychoactive substances by frequent nightclub goers in Georgia (country): results of online cross-sectional survey
Visitors of electronic dance music (EDM) events are under the increased risk of use of psychoactive drugs. Nightlife industry has been dynamically developing in Georgia. There has been no research investigating the scale and nature of drug consumption in local nightclub setting. The aim of the study was to assess the psychoactive drug use and related behaviour among frequent nightclub/festival goers in Georgia.
Online survey among EDM attendees was conducted in November-December 2018. Targeted recruitment was done through closed (ravers’) facebook groups. Structured questionnaire in Georgian language (18 items) covered socio demographics, drug use and club/festival attendance. Uni and bivariate analysis was done using SPSS.
The final analysis included 321 (175 male, 138 female, 4 other, 4 unknown) valid questionnaires. Mean age was 24.4 (SD 5.5). More than two-thirds visited clubs/festivals more than 5 times and about one third did so more than 20 times in the last year. Three quarters used illicit drugs in the last 12 months, out of that 80% reported using drugs in the last 30 days. Of those who used drugs in last month, 81.5% used cannabis, 70% used MDMA/ecstasy. Use of dissociative, hallucinogens, amphetamines and NPS was also reported. Main drugs used during the last episode in a club/festival setting were MDMA/ecstasy (66.7%), cannabis (53.9%) and ketamine (10.3%). The majority reported taking drugs prior to club/festival visit and/or bringing drugs with them during the last episode. One fifth (49/243) also reported obtaining drugs inside club/festival venue and only 12.2% (n=6) of them reported purchasing drugs, others reported receiving it for free from friends (77.6%; n=38) or from strangers (8.2%; n=4). Half of those who were under the influence of drugs in nightlife settings reported using alcohol as well. Of those, slightly more than half reported consuming alcohol to mix with a drug (for the desired effect) or to deal with drug hangover. About 10% of participants (25/243) who used drugs during the last year reported experiencing drug overdose in the last 12 months, and 61% claimed they know how to provide first aid. In a bivariate analysis males (p=.0) and frequent club goers (p=.0) were more likely to use drugs in the last 12 months. A frequency of attendance was associated with regular personal income (p=.001). Drug use in clubs was associated with using fewer different drugs if compared with using in other settings (p=.0).
The survey recruited a self-selected sample of mostly young frequent nightclub/festival visitors. Illicit drug use including in EDM setting was prevalent. Cannabis and MDMA/ecstasy were most often used drugs and were followed by dissociatives and hallucinogens, including new psychoactive substances. The majority used drugs prior to visiting clubs/festivals or brought the drug with them in club settings. One in five obtained drugs inside a club/festival venue. Mixing drugs with alcohol was prevalent. Results of the survey provide useful initial data related to psychoactive drug use among frequent club/festival goers in Georgia and suggest the need for in-depth investigation of risks associated with this phenomenon.