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Abstract

Aims. This paper aims to demonstrate whether a relationship exists between adolescent drug use and identification with styles of music linked to specific youth culture. Design. Survey data were collected by researchers, under exam conditions, from two contrasting samples of Scottish secondary schoolchildren. Setting. Fieldwork was conducted in five comprehensive schools in the city of Dundee in 1994 and five comprehensive schools in the rural area of Perth and Kinross District in 1996. Participants. Questionnaires were administered to two randomly selected mixed ability classes in each of the four compulsory school years (S1 to S4), at each participating school. The eventual sample (n= 1523) was approximately 10% of all children in these school years from the geographical areas surveyed. Measurements. Comparisons were made between life-time measures of legal and illegal drug use and current favourite style of music. Findings. Although few children in this study had ever taken the drug ecstasy (MDMA),‘fans’ of rave music were more likely to have used drugs than those who preferred other styles of music. This relationship held true across a range of drugs used, across two geographical areas, over time and controlling for age, gender and parental social class. Conclusions. The paper is one of the first to quantify a possible relationship between drug use and music style. On the basis of the evidence presented, a significant relationship was found between identification with rave music and life-time drug use.