Parents often worry about their children, using the music they hear pumping through their teen’s bedroom door as a barometer for trouble. While the lyrics in the music may not be understandable, the type of music may bring to mind certain behaviors.
A recent situation has called attention to the connection between club music and ecstasy use. While performing at a music festival, Madonna called out the crowd, asking how many of her fans had “seen Molly.” The phrase is slang for ecstasy, and Madonna was heavily criticized by her perceived promotion of the drug.
A study conducted in 2011 sought to explore the connection between certain types of music and drug use (Van Havere, Vanderplasschen, Lammertyn, Broekaert & Bellis). The researchers documented the drug use of those who attended European events focused on dance, club and rock music.
The study authors recruited 1,406 visitors to nighttime music events held in Belgium. The events were all in 2007 and held in three clubs. Included were two dance events and two rock events. Of the recruited visitors, 775 completed a questionnaire that took between five and ten minutes. The survey included questions about demographics, music preferences, nightlife, and drug use.
Of the respondents, 62 percent were male and there was a mean age of 22.7 years.
The researchers found that there were several patterns found among certain music types. Age was a predictor for certain types of music, and respondents at clubs were significantly younger than respondents recruited at rock and dance events.
About 92 percent of the participants said that they had used alcohol in the past year and nearly 52 percent had used illegal drugs in the past year. They were most likely to have used marijuana, followed by ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines.
The researchers conducted regression analyses to determine associations between music preferences and drug use frequency. There were patterns found to be associated with certain types of music preference. Other factors, however, also impacted an association with drug use, such as gender, nightlife habits, venue, and age.
The authors note that certain limitations may be associated with the findings. For instance, the authors could not be certain that the findings are generalizable, given the recruitment methods used in the study. Also, the study was not designed to determine causation, with no evidence provided that certain music types cause drug use.
The findings also could not clearly determine whether music or other characteristics were responsible for the associations found about music and drug use.
Madonna’s reference to ecstasy use did not help to diminish the perception of a connection between club music and drug use. The study does confirm that there may be a connection between certain types of music preference and drug use; however, it does not establish any evidence of a causal relationship.