The Music Scene Has a Drugging Problem

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

Recently, famous musicians like Dr. Luke, CeeLo Green, and the Gaslamp Killer have been publicly accused of using date rape drugs. But it’s important to remember that drugging occurs at all levels of the music industry, as The Fader notes in its report on the horrifyingly common practice of drugging in the music community.


Writer Ruth Saxelby interviews several women in the industry who say they were drugged and assaulted by artists, managers, people in the clubs they were DJing at and more. Most women who are drugged do not report their experiences to the police because of how difficult it can be to prove you were drugged, and to recount the details of an assault you cannot even remember.

Drugging someone without their knowledge is obviously a violation of their consent and in some states, like New York, it’s classified as assault in the second degree. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of research on the subject despite how common it can be. The Fader spoke with Dr. Suzanne Swan, a psychology professor at the University of South Carolina, who conducted a study of nearly 6,000 students at three American universities, the results of which estimated that 1 in 13 college students report “experiencing at least one incident in which they know or suspect someone put a drug in their drink without their knowledge.”

And in certain music circles, where doing pills recreationally is just part of the culture, people can take advantage of that freewheeling vibe to abuse people. “In fact, the music industry has much in common with a college campus environment: excessive drinking and drug-taking is encouraged; socializing takes place late at night; and there are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable young people all trying to find their place,” Saxelby writes.

We see this often with music festivals which frequently face issues of underage drug use and sexual assault, but drugging can also reach the “safe spaces” of DIY communities. As the music industry continues to deal with its demons regarding sexual assault and harassment, whether at shows or behind closed doors, it may have to start dealing with its drug problem too.

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.



Really good article. I saw the headline and at first thought it was about all the drugs I enjoyed ingesting voluntarily when I was at concerts.

It also led me to think about the older phenomenon of “dosing” people. In the 1960s, 70s, and 1980s it wasn’t uncommon to hear people talk abbot, and carry out, the idea that giving people LSD without their knowledge was a Good Thing, since it would open their minds. I very much enjoyed an occasional dose or two, but the idea of that horrified me. It horrified me that *I* could be dosed without my consent, and I enjoyed the stuff.