Raves are giving new meaning to night life.  According to Abadinsky (2014,) they became very popular in the late 1980’s, where they originated in the UK and shortly after their popularity spread all over Europe.  The FBI (2010) defines raves as “high energy, all night dances that feature hard pounding techno-music and flashing laser lights.  They can be a ton of fun and a form of expression, but they can also be extremely dangerous.  Drugs run rampant at these overcrowded parties and it is easy for your child to get pushed into using, as the excitement and peer pressure builds throughout the nightly event.   This paper will identify the types of drugs that are used at raves, why it is difficult for law enforcement to identify these events, and what should happen when law enforcement arrives on the scene at one of these parties.

Raves take place at a permanent dwelling, usually a club.  It is advertised that there will be no alcohol or drugs at the event and light security is provided.  Parents of young people that are actively involved in this scene must remain aware what is advertised is a cover up for the limitless drugs that liven up the party.  Raves are the most popular venue for club drugs to be sold and distributed.  The FBI (2010) report the most common club drugs include MDMA (Ecstasy,) GHB and Rohypnol (date rape drugs,) Ketamine, Methamphetamine, and LSD.  These drugs are easy to distribute without being detected as they are odorless and tasteless.  MDMA’s are popular among many ravers.  This drug can last up to three hours and gives the individual the ability to dance the night away without taking many breaks.  It also increases the chance for dehydration, increased body temperature, and liver failure.  Date rape drugs are very common and are usually slipped into the victim’s drink causing amnesia in order for the assailant to commit a sexual assault.  Ketamine and Methamphetamine are snorted and smoked by the user.  Ketamine will cause the user to hallucinate while impairing memory function. Methamphetamine causes the user to become aggressive, violent, and paranoid.  Many ravers choose to use LSD which causes the user to hallucinate, sweat profusely, and increase heart rate.   These drugs are extremely dangerous and have many adverse reactions including, but not limited to: insomnia, dehydration, impaired speech, drowsiness, confusion, and nausea. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012)

Law enforcement agencies are challenged with identifying a rave.  Raves can take place in an ordinary night club and drugs can easily go undetected creating a mask for the real event.  Ravers will also set up an event in a desolate area that is low key in order to hide from cops.  It is seldom that undercover agents can obtain information on an upcoming rave on social media. According to The National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) ravers do not promote details to the public, but advertise on flyers found only at record stores, clothing shops, and other rave parties.  Following tradition the location of the rave is kept secret in order to protect those in attendance.  The fliers will advertise a phone number and the city in which the rave is going to be held, more details are provided after calling.  In some occurrences a promoter may provide only a location which is called a map point where ravers can go and retrieve the actual party location.  Due to the extreme efforts in protecting the location of the rave party, law enforcement is typically a step behind.

When a law enforcement team arrives at a rave there isn’t much they can do Gill (2009) reports.  If there has been a noise complaint, officers can test the sound with a decibel meter and if the noise is too loud they can request the dj to quiet the music.  If no legal activity can be seen, officers do not have much control.   Retired Sergeant Juan Flores of the Chicago City Police Department (2015) concurs with Gills argument.  Flores (2015) reflects on his career with Chicago City Police, he stated that when an officer arrives on scene of a rave there is a checklist that is followed before any action can be taken.  First and foremost an officer should check with the facility for a license permitting them to host such an event of such sort.  It is also important to observe the environment; taking note of any signs of intoxication or signs of anyone under the influence of drugs.  In Chicago anyone under the age of 16 is not legally permitted to be out doors past 11:00pm.   It is important to adhere to the curfew and depending on the time, make sure there are no young people attending the rave.  Officers will also observe for any disturbance to the public, illegal substances or alcohol beings served to minors, and occupancy.  If the facility has maxed out on occupancy it is the duty of the officer to notify the fire chief to have the party shut down.  If there is any illegal activity an officer can apprehend offenders.

Law enforcement officers work round the clock to protect our community.  It can be difficult at times to identify the location of a rave, but once found the officer will do all that he is permitted by law to do.  Enforcing the law and safety is of utmost concern.  In order to crack down on rave activity policing agencies are getting the word out to parents and young people.  Informing the public of the dangers that lurk behind the hidden truths is the only way to shut down the dangers inevitably.  Raves are high energy and can be a great time, but they are also where predators hunt for sexual prey.  Overcrowding and the use of illegal substances are a breeding ground for danger.  The only way to ensure your safety is to know the dangers and stay away.


Tips for Parents: The Truth About Club Drugs. (2010, March 17). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

Gill, J. (2009, March 17). Police respond to all-night rave at Pharaoh’s Lost Kingdom. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Information Bulletin: Raves. (2001, April 1). National Drug Intelligence Center. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

Club Drugs. (2012, December 1). National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

Flores, J. (2015, April 11). Law Enforcement and Raves [Personal interview].

Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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