Exploring the subjective experience of rave party participants in Israel who consume psychedelic drugs: a qualitative inquiry

Yula Milshteyn, Moshe Bensimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rave music parties (RMP) are a world-wide socio-cultural phenomenon, where people listen to rave music while frequently consuming psychedelic drugs. Epidemiological studies have emphasized the hazardous consequences following the consumption of psychedelic drugs at RMP, and qualitative studies have shown social and psycho-spiritual experiences. Yet, phenomenological inquiry into subjective experiences of attendees is scant. This study aimed to examine physical, emotional, perceptual and social experiences of RMP participants in Israel, and their view on Israel’s policy toward rave events. In addition, the study aimed to contribute useful information for policymakers and society on rave music and psychedelic drugs experiences at RMP. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze transcriptions of semi-structured interviews with 27 individuals attending RMP regularly and consume psychedelic drugs. Results: Analysis revealed four significant themes: the first theme, the impact of Israel’s drug policy on participants’ sense of safety, relates to participants’ sense of insecurity and anxiety at Israeli RMP due to government drug ban policy. The second theme, the stigma on rave culture, relates to participants’ perception regarding the stigma on rave culture in law enforcement agencies and in society in general. The third theme, negative experiences, describes short-term experiences after consuming psychedelics at RMP, including hallucinations and disorientation. The fourth theme, positive experiences, describes positive sensory, emotional and self/world attitudinal aspects after consuming psychedelics at RMP. Sensory experiences included intensified auditory, visual and tactile experiences; emotional experiences included positive feelings toward others, reduced stress and ability to vent difficult emotions; self/world attitudinal aspects included self-acceptance, higher appreciation of life and connectedness to nature. Conclusions: The study highlights RMP participants’ sense of insecurity due to Israel’s strict drug policy and absence of harm reduction strategies at rave scenes. The study also notes participants’ experience of stigmatization as drug addicts by society and law enforcement agencies. Reducing police presence and adopting harm reduction policies at rave scenes in Israel may increase participants’ sense of security, reduce stigmatization and decrease overdose risk. Hence, the findings may contribute to new knowledge useful for policymakers and society concerning RMP and the use of psychedelics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number176
JournalHarm Reduction Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Drug policy
  • Harm reduction
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Psychedelic drugs
  • Rave music
  • Rave parties
  • Stigma


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