We haven’t had a silly season recreational drugs are really dangerous story yet but there’s still plenty of time. So here’s a quick summary of some research from the Netherlands that will help put the question into some kind of context.

In a study of 3.8 million attendees to 249 raves over 12 years, researchers found that almost 27,897 people visited a first aid station. Among 10,100 substance-related cases, 515 required professional medical care, and 16 of these cases were life threatening. Most (66.7%) substance-related problems were associated with ecstasy, alcohol, or both. People using GHB most often required professional medical care, although the authors found no evidence for life-threatening, acute effects of the drug.

The study, Substance-Related Health Problems During Rave Parties in the Netherlands (1997-2008) by Krul J, Blankers M, Girbes is published in the on-line journal PLoS ONE.

In their conclusions the authors say:

Approximately one-third of all rave-party visitors who sought first aid reported having a substance-related problem. Visitors with substance-related problems stayed longer at first aid stations than those without a substance-use problem. Altogether, 515 of 10,100 substance-related incidents were classified as serious, and 16 of these were life-threatening. Most substance-related incidents were associated with ecstasy or alcohol use or both. It is noteworthy, however, that in the Netherlands alcohol use is relatively common, but ecstasy use is not. It is possible that the willingness of rave-party visitors to present themselves at a first aid station with health-related complaints was related to the drug that they used. For example, ecstasy users’  need for social contact might have prompted them to seek assistance with minor health-related problems more readily than users of other substances. Additionally, readiness to report one’s substance use might have varied according to the social acceptability of using particular illicit drugs.

Unlike what most other recent studies from various countries have found, the occurrence of acute substance-related health problems found in this study was relatively infrequent and the problems were not severe.