Club Drugs, Dance Events and Asian American Youth

Principal Investigator: Geoffrey Hunt
Co-Principal Investigator: Karen Joe-Laidler
Supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA014317)

Our second project on club drug use in the San Francisco Bay Area, “Club Drugs, Dance Events and Asian American Youth,” was a continuation of our work from “The Social World of Club Drugs.” Our primary aim for this project was to identify the settings in which Asian American youths use club drugs, and develop contact with and interview 250 Asian American club drug users.  In a continuation of our work from the first club drugs project, we used both an in-depth qualitative interview instrument, and a pre-coded, quantitative interview schedule to collect information on the social, gender and ethnic subgroup characteristics of young Asian American club drug users, and the types and combinations of club drugs currently used. While the emphasis on the meanings and beliefs about drug use from the first club drugs project carried over into our work on “Club Drugs, Dance Events and Asian American Youth,” a significant portion of the project was also dedicated to exploring notions of identity and how Asian Americans of varying backgrounds, ages, ethnic groups, and immigration status, conceptualize and negotiate their own sense of ethnic identity and “Asian-ness” in general.

Our aim was to explore not only the patterns of drug use among Asian American youths in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the meanings of drug use as it relates to our respondents’ sense of ethnic identity and experiences in the broader Asian American community. For some of our respondents, their understanding of their ethnic identity had little to do with their drug use. Others, however, took pride in the fact that their drug use set them apart from “typical” Asian American youth, while still others viewed their drug use as a means of coping with the difficulties of living “in between” Asian and American culture. Respondents were equally varied in their feelings of attachment to the Asian dance scene. However, underlying all of our analysis for this project was the notion that ethnicity is not a fixed or unitary notion, but instead a fluid, changing sense of identity that is constructed and negotiated differently across differently settings and within different groups.

Papers from the Club Drugs, Dance Events and Asian American Youth Project:

  • Joe-Laidler, K., and Hunt, G. (2008). “Sit Down to Float”: The Cultural Meaning of Ketamine Use in Hong Kong. Addiction, Theory and Research, 16(3): 259-271.
  • Moloney, M., Hunt, G., and Evans, K. (2008). “Asian American identity and drug consumption: From acculturation to normalization.” Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 7 (4): 376-403.
  • Hunt, G., Moloney, M., and Evans, K. (In Press-2010). “How Asian Am I? Asian American Youth Cultures, Drug Use and Ethnic Identity Construction.” Youth & Society.
  • Fazio, A. Joe-Laidler, K., Moloney, M., and Hunt, G. (Forthcoming-2010). “Gender, sexuality, and ethnicity as factors of club drug use among Asian Americans.” Journal of Drug Issues.