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Scand J Public Health. 2019 Jan 11:1403494818821481. doi: 10.1177/1403494818821481. [Epub ahead of print]

Illegal substance use among 1,309 music festival attendees: An investigation using oral fluid sample drug tests, breathalysers and questionnaires.

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1 Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway.
2 Department of Forensic Sciences, Oslo University Hospital, Norway.



Illegal substance use at music festivals is less documented than it is in nightlife and electronic dance music settings. This study investigated such use through questionnaires, breathalysers and oral fluid drug testing. We also examined the associations between testing positive for illegal substances and demographics, self-reported substance use and measured blood alcohol concentration levels.


A cross-sectional study of 1,309 festival attendees from six Norwegian music festivals taking place between July and August 2016. Logistic regression models estimated the likelihood of a positive oral fluid drug test. Covariates were male, age, education, employment, smoking status, early age for alcohol intoxication, alcohol intoxication ⩾2 times a week, past-month and past-year illegal substance use, blood alcohol concentration levels and festivals.


Overall, 12% reported illegal substance use in the past 30 days and 11% tested positive for illegal substances. Cannabis (6%), cocaine (3%) and MDMA/ecstasy (2%) were most commonly detected. One-third had a blood alcohol concentration ⩾0.10%. Of those with a positive test result ( n=146), 95% had detectable alcohol levels and 41% had a blood alcohol concentration above 0.10%. Those studying or working part-time were less likely to test positive compared to those who were not employed. Furthermore, those reporting daily smoking and past-year cannabis or MDMA/ecstasy use were more likely to test positive, compared to those not reporting such use.


Illegal substance use was less prevalent than in previous nightlife and electronic dance music studies. Almost all those testing positive for illegal substances had detectable alcohol levels and 41% had a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.10%, possibly indicating combined use.


Recreational drug use; blood alcohol concentration; breathalysers; electronic dance music; electronic dance music festival; illegal substance use; illicit substance use; music festival; music festival attendees; oral fluid samples; substance use


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