Drug Use and Abuse in the Brazilian Rave Culture

Steven P. Kurtz, Principal Investigator
James A. Inciardi, Co-Investigator
Hilary L. Surratt, Co- Investigator
Flavio Pechansky, Co-Investigator

Initiated: 2007

Funding Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Project Summary:

This study was funded as an extension of the South Beach Project, with the goal of examining the marked increase in ecstasy use that is now occurring in many parts of Brazil. Although ecstasy was first introduced in Brazil as early as 1994, by most accounts its use remained localized and sporadic until 2000-2001. Currently, ecstasy use has spread to most major cities in Brazil, and occurs primarily in rave and night-club settings. The handful of published studies on this topic in Brazil suggests that ecstasy users are often polydrug abusers, and have significantly higher rates of illicit and prescription drug abuse than do non-ecstasy users. Because of the young age of the vast majority of club drug users and their tendency to mix numerous drugs during their typical drug binges, club drug users tend to be a highly vulnerable population. However, there are few published scientific studies of the health and social consequences of club drug use in general, and none that have been conducted in Brazil.


Within this context, the aims of the study are to:

  • Recruit a sample of 200 out-of-treatment ecstasy users ages 18-39 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and at baseline assess their life histories of alcohol and drug abuse onset and progression (changes in quantity, frequency, and types), and extent of current alcohol, club, prescription, and other drug use;
  • at 6 and 12 months, assess changes in onset, progression, and extent of respondents’ alcohol and club, prescription, and other drug use;
  • at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months, investigate the impact of quantity, frequency, types and duration of drug abuse on the nature and extent of health and social consequences within this population, including: sexual risk-taking and coercion; drug interactions and overdose; chronic drug use; impairment of daily activities; physical problems; mental health problems; and legal problems; and,
  • examine the impact of gender on onset, progression, and extent of drug use and the nature and extent of health and social consequences.