Project Description

Urban Lifestyles: Club Drugs, Resource Inequities and Health Risks in Urban Youth:

Through the combined use of ethnographic, network and epidemiological research, this cutting-edge study examined the mechanisms through which potentially dangerous new club, dance-related and prescription drugs (often referred to as “designer drugs”) were diffusing into an urban environment. The study weighs the contribution of psychological, social, economic and contextual factors in the decision to distribute and use new drugs and determines the sexual risk impact associated with these decisions. The study included three, simultaneous components that, combined, helped to understand the nature of the emerging club and designer drug market amongst urban youth in Hartford. The first component was studying (through direct observation and informal interviews) the role of clubs, house parties, raves, and other social events as environments where club drugs are diffused, marketed and used. The second component was a series of in-depth interviews with sixty individuals who sold or used club drugs, or who regularly attended or worked at clubs, raves or other social events where the club drugs were used and distributed. The final component was a survey of 500 individuals (one-third club drug users and two-third non-users), ages 16-30 administered twice (eight months apart) to track change in drug use over time. Through a partnership with urban youth, agencies and site gatekeepers, the study was also designed to identify and assess potential prevention intervention approaches to reduce the health and social risks associated with the introduction of these new drugs in the urban youth environment.

Additional Information:

Jean J. Schensul, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Raul Pino, M.D.,
Co-Principal Investigator

Gary Burkholder, Ph.D.,
Co-Investigator/ Quantitative Data Analyst

Margaret R. Weeks, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator

William Disch, Ph.D.
Quantitative Data Analyst

Sarah Diamond, Ph.D.
Ethnographic Data Analyst

Orlando Velazco, B.A.
Ethnographic Community Researcher

Alessandro Bermudez, B.A.
Ethnographic Community Researcher

Regina Blake
Ethnographic Community Researcher

Club, dance-related and prescription drugs (often referred to as “designer drugs”) are rapidly being diffused into unprepared urban networks and neighborhoods, creating new social, health and sexual risks for youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 30 in Hartford, CT. Through the combined use of ethnographic, network and epidemiological research, this cutting-edge study examines the mechanisms through which potentially dangerous new drugs are diffused into an urban environment, weighs the contribution of psychological, social, economic and contextual factors in the decision to distribute and use new drugs, and determines the sexual risk impact associated with these decisions. Through a partnership with urban youth, agencies and site gatekeepers, the study will also identify and assess potential prevention intervention approaches to reduce the health and social risks associated with the introduction of these new drugs in the urban youth environment.
The project aims to:

Describe the role of clubs, raves, after-hours parties and other social events on the marketing and distribution of club and designer drugs into urban youth neighborhoods.

Examine the psychological, social, cultural and other factors that contribute to or inhibit the use of club and designer drugs.

Examine the change over time in the use of club and designer drugs amongst the urban youth population (ages 16-30) in Hartford, CT.

Use the information gathered during the study to develop an intervention program to reduce the health and social risks associated with club drug use.