EDM & Drug Use: Does It Have to Go Together?


Drugs & Music: It’s not a new concept

In the 70’s, it was Pink Floyd.  In the 90’s, it was the rave scene.  Today, it’s Electronic Dance Music (EDM).  EDM is one of the most popular genres of music today and it’s extremely popular with young music fans. Approximately 147 million EDM festival tickets are sold annually.

Unfortunately, drug use has become synonymous with going to an EDM concert.  The EDM scene has embraced this by including mind-blowing light shows to enhance the drug/music combination.  If you haven’t seen what one of these EDM light shows look like, watch this clip.  Drugs like “molly” (MDMA), “acid” (LSD), “shrooms” (psilocybin), “coke” (cocaine), and marijuana are regularly taken at these shows.


As a therapist, I have seen the after-math of party drug use. The above-mentioned drugs affect the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels, making the clients feel high.  Unfortunately, for days and weeks after, the brain is recovering from this unnatural dopamine dump.  After the concert/drug use, users often report feeling extremely depressed (sometimes suicidal), anxious, irritable, and report experiencing severe mood swings.

As I said at the beginning, combining drugs and music is nothing new.  What concerns me is the frequency of drug use and the types of drugs being used in the EDM scene.  Many fans are going to 3-10 EDM concerts per month and consuming drugs at almost every show.  The use of hardcore drugs on a regular basis is debilitating to these EDM fans.  Their mental health deteriorates, they have trouble keeping jobs, and healthy relationships suffer.  It’s a crisis that I’ve seen spike in over the past few years.

Friends and EDM

Unfortunately, the EDM culture of drug use makes it very difficult to be sober at a concert.  Sometimes EDM fans will plan to stop consuming drugs at concerts but give into temptation once at the shows.  I often hear from for EDM frequenters that the concerts just aren’t nearly as enjoyable if they are sober.  Typically, their friends are all high and they want to be high with them.  For many, they feel like they have to choose between staying home alone and losing their friends or going out to party their brains out with their friends.  The short-term perceived benefits win out over their long-term suffering.

EDM music isn’t the problem.  It’s the rampant drug culture that is the problem.  I was happy to read an article in the Westword , written by local Denver DJ, Amberdehn.   As someone who truly loves music in its purest form, she worries about how drug use negatively affects the EDM scene.  Amberdehn frets, “They need an excuse to do [drugs], and the culture has created that….It affects you negatively.”  You can read the article here.

Finding the Balance

One of biggest problems avid EDM concert goers face is figuring out how to slow down their drug use. They want to keep enjoying the music and they want to keep hanging out with their friends.  Often fans are unable to enjoy concert without being on drugs.  The fans that have discussions with their friends about their desire to stop using drugs at concerts are more likely to be successful in reducing their drug use.  Sometimes they have to find different friends (a positive support system) that will encourage them to hit their goal, instead of tempting them.

Finding additional positive areas for entertainment and happiness also prove to be helpful.  These areas have include doing outdoor activities, taking their dog for a walk, playing recreational sports, and creating art themselves.  This may include making their own music.  In addition to new recreational activities, many will also need to work on repairing the relationships harmed by their drug use and work on learning coping tools to help them when they’re bored, anxious, and/or depressed.

EDM music is full of talented artists and experiencing an EDM concert is often lots of fun.  The problem is the frequent use of party drugs that harms the music scene and user’s quality of life. It is possible to be into the EDM music scene and a live a happy life without the frequent use of party drugs.

If you or someone you care about is having difficulties due to heavy drug use at concerts and would like to talk to a professional about it, please feel free to contact Christopher John Counseling to schedule a free consultation.

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