[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion Researcher Awarded $2.18 Million Grant to Study Club Drug Use

Xiushi Yang, professor and chair of the Old Dominion University Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, was recently awarded a $2.18 million grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse over five years to study causes and health consequences of synthetic drugs in urban China.

The research will serve to develop a conceptual model to better understand the causes of club drug use - such as ketamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy - as well as negative health outcomes related to abuse.

Yang, as the principal investigator, is working with a group of researchers, including partners from Eastern Virginia Medical School. The five-year grant will fund research in two cities on the east coast and southwest of China.

While the research is to be conducted in China, the findings may translate internationally, Yang said.

Unlike some drugs, which depress the nervous system, club drugs often stimulate sexual activity, which can lead to a surge in unsafe sexual practices and increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, according to Yang and his fellow researchers. Using interviews and questionnaires, researchers will study nearly 2,000 people, both drug users and non-drug users, between the ages of 18 and 39 in the Qingdao and Kunming areas of China.

"This project will take a first look at causes of why people abuse these emerging club drugs," Yang said. "Once the research is completed, we hope it will better inform the public in preventing the use of drugs."

The risk of disease transmission associated with club drugs is different from the risks associated with injection, which has been the dominant practice in drug communities in China and internationally, Yang said.

Most club drug users do not consume them intravenously. They often use the drugs in group settings, such as private parties/gatherings or entertainment venues. The stimulating effect of club drugs and the group settings can increase the likelihood of group sex and other unsafe sexual behaviors.

Findings could then be used to educate drug users on safe sex and minimize the sexual transmission of diseases, he said.

This work builds on Yang's previous research on demography and migrations, health risk drug use and sexual behavior, including HIV/AIDS prevention and studies of stigmatized populations, including female entertainers in China.

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.