ISLAMABAD-People have traded in nightclubs and dance festivals for virtual raves and Zoom happy hours as a result of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic–yet, many are using drugs in these socially distanced settings, according to a new study by researchers. The study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, is the first to examine drug use during virtual raves and happy hours. “We explored whether stay-at-home orders changed how people use drugs–and it appears that drug use during virtual gatherings is somewhat prevalent among the party-going population we studied,” said Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of population health. 

With government regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19 temporarily closing nightclubs and canceling large electronic dance music (EDM) festivals, some forms of nightlife have shifted to online platforms. At virtual raves, attendees experience live DJ performances broadcasted to thousands or even millions of people.