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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: Underreported Ketamine Exposure Among EDM Party-goers

A study co-authored by Dr. Joseph Palamar, an affiliated researcher at the Center for Drug Use and human immunodeficincy virus (HIV) / Hepatitis C virus (HCV) Research at the New York University School of Global Public Health, was published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine titled “Extensive Underreported Exposure to Ketamine Among Electronic Dance Music Attendees.” 

Individuals who attend electronic dance music (EDM) parties report high levels of synthetic drug use compared to the general population, and are at a high risk for experiencing adverse effects. Unknown exposure to various drugs which appear as adulterants in drugs such as ecstasy is common; however, unknown exposure to ketamine — a controlled dissociative anesthetic — is understudied. Given increasing public discourse about ketamine, both known exposure (through recreational use) and unknown exposure (through use of adulterated drugs) may increase.

Findings detected extensive underreporting of ketamine use in EDM party-goers with prevalence of use nearly tripling when considering both self-report and detection in hair samples. Underreporting in this population is higher than expected considering self-reported use of synthetic drugs was common. Since it is unlikely that a participant would report use of drugs such as ecstasy and intentionally underreport ketamine use, many cases of positive detection may be due to unknown exposure through use of adulterated drugs. Testing positive for MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or “Ecstasy”) was a risk factor for testing positive for ketamine after not reporting use. Racial/ethnic minorities were also more likely to provide a discordant report. More research is needed to determine whether these individuals are intentionally underreporting use or whether they are at a higher risk for unknown exposure to ketamine.

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