Researching Youth – Methods Seminar Series

Does your research involve working with young people? Are you interested in youth-led, creative or culturally-responsive methodologies?

The British Educational Research Association (BERA) special interest group for Youth Studies & Informal Education, is working in collaboration with the British Sociological Association (BSA)’s Youth Study Group and the Political Studies Association (PSA)’s Young People’s Politics Specialist Group to bring you a series of online methods seminars for Summer 2022.

Supporting cross-disciplinary dialogue in Youth Studies, these seminars will incorporate methods from Education, Sociology and Politics research with young people. Seminar topics include Talking and Listening approaches with young people, Creative Methods, Co-Production, Co-Design and Co-Authorship, Placemaking, exploring spaces and places with young people, Ethnography and Focus Groups. Whilst these seminars focus predominantly on qualitative methods, they will explore the application of several of these methods online.

There will also be a specialist seminar for PGRs and ECRs on adaptability, resilience, and career transitions. These seminars will follow an informal format, where following two or three short presentations, there will be space for event attendees to share questions, ideas and their own approaches.

These events are free for BERA, BSA or PSA members and £10 for non-members.

For more details, please visit:

Listening & Talking to Young People Who Use Drugs

Please find below the recording of my presentation for the first in our BERA/BSA/PSA Researching Youth seminar series, details here:

What a fabulous event, I can’t wait for the rest of the series, we have 8 online sessions in total, get involved!

Recording: Listening and Talking to Young People Who Use Drugs (YPWUDs)

A Deep Dive into Afterparties, with Dr Lisa Williams and Dr Giulia Zampini, hosted by Dr James Morgan, and supported by Drug Science, March 2022

Please find the flyer, video and slides for my “Where’s the Afters?” presentation for “A Deep Dive into Afterparties” March 2022

Watch our deep dive into Afterparties here

Details of the Afterparties event, the first of its kind in the world.

Safer Partying: Building evidence-based public safety and drug harm reduction policies and practices

Animals partying at home

Please click here to complete our Safer Partying Survey!

Safer Partying Ethics Documents

Brief project description

Exciting news about my research on drug use at parties at home! Recently I received funding from the QR Policy Fund for a brief policy-orientated research project on encouraging and supporting safer partying among young adults. As you will know I have long been thinking about partying ‘at home’ in domestic/private settings, with a particular interest in after-parties, a profoundly under-researched aspect of dance music cultures. I am very excited to be working on this. Watch this space for forthcoming events and outputs!

Safer Partying is a timely and significant study on ‘recreational’ drug use in leisure settings. It will produce and translate knowledge on young adult’s substance use at parties in private/domestic settings to policymakers, harm reduction and drug policy organisations, and party-goers themselves.

Project information

Safer Partying is a multi-method research and policy study that aims to illuminate substance use practices, meanings and motivations among young adults within ‘private’ or domestic ‘hidden’ spaces. It is timely given the prominent focus on recreational drug use in leisure settings in the recent 2021 UK Drug Strategy, coupled with the fact that the pandemic has reduced young people’s engagement with the night-time economy (NTE) and increased the use of private/domestic spaces to party. The pandemic has also reduced access to safe spaces for leisure for those experiencing intersections of multiple disadvantage (Woodrow and Moore 2021, Moore et al 2021).

Safer Partying will build a much-needed evidence base and expert network around substance use upon which public health and criminal justice policy responses can be developed. The focus is on translating findings on young adult’s alcohol and ‘recreational’ drug use in private/domestic settings to key stakeholders (local and national policymakers, harm reduction and drug policy organisations, and young adults). Currently, scholarly and policy attention in this area has focused on the NTE and music festivals, resulting in a knowledge gap in young adult’s substance use at parties in private/domestic spaces; including the longstanding practice within dance music cultures of ‘after-partying’, the continuation of substance use in private/domestic spaces after a main social event such as a club night or festival.

The project will work at both a local and national level. Research activities include focus groups with young adults in Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh; expert interviews with individuals at a range of organisations concerned with youth leisure and the health/wellbeing of young adults more generally; and a nationwide online targeted population survey on partying practices, including substance use. Project partners include Professor Rob Ralphs, Director of Greater Manchester: Testing and Research on Emergent and New Drugs (GMTRENDs) for Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Kira Weir, Nightlife and Harm Reduction Co-ordinator of Crew 2000, a Scottish drug and alcohol charity based in Edinburgh.

More to come…!

If you would like to be involved, please email me at

Long time no post

This is my first post in two years, and a positive one it is too. Today sees the launch of my co-authored report commissioned by The Beckley Foundation, and written with Hattie Wells and Amanda Feilding.

Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA is an innovative report mapping how a strictly regulated legal market for MDMA products would work for both clinical and recreational use. It draws on decades of scientific evidence to closely details the risks and harms associated with MDMA use in the context of prohibition, whilst setting out the benefits of alternative policies for a safer future.

You can download Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA here

Hope it gives you food for thought.

Rave safe,


Podcast Heaven with Social Science Bites: Discussing Dance Culture

As many of you will know (cue groan!), I am a huge fan of all things BBC Radio Four, particularly The Archers Omnibus which brightens up my world every Sunday!

Given my appreciation of the power of listening, I was honoured to be asked by the great David Edmonds of Philosophy Bites fame to discuss ‘dance culture’ in a booth in the Sage Publications London office one evening last summer.

If you’d like to hear some social scientists talking about their research and teaching passions, please visit Social Science Bites.

If you would like to hear me doing that too, please visit here.

Stay safe


News: Europe Launches UK Web Survey on Drugs

The UK’s relationship with our European neighbours is the topic of increasingly heated debate as Thursday 23rd of June looms. The UK “referendum on Europe” is at times even usurping our enduring preoccupation with the weather.

Whatever the outcome, I am sure we as drug researchers, practitioners and concerned others will continue to find ways to work collaboratively around shared concerns which transgress national borders and boundaries, such as the health and wellbeing of all.

In this positive spirit, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) today launches a new web survey for the UK.

The European Web Survey on Drugs: The United Kingdom

The EMCDDA is developing estimates of the size of drug markets across the European Union based on data provided by National Focal Points, which in the UK is Public Health England. One way of estimating market size is to collect survey data on quantities of substances used by different groups of people who take drugs. The EMCDDA’s European Web Survey on Drugs focuses on seven countries across Europe, namely Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Latvia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Please spread the word, get involved, and make your views and experiences heard.


Sociology Lancaster

Researching ‘Futures’ in the Past

In honour of the recent establishment of the Institute of Social Futures, Lancaster University, I revisited my PhD thesis: Versions of the Future in Relation to Mobile Technologies, awarded in July 2004!

Twelve years on, it is immense fun to read an ‘old’ future imagined by the young people who participated in my focus groups with much humour and hubris at the beginning of the heady decade that was the 2000s. These youngsters will be hitting their thirties right about now.

They imagined a future where mobile phones had video cameras and (pre-social media as we know it now) ‘life recording’ devices that would capture all one’s memories for posterity.

Far more prescient than I had ever imagined!



Versions of the Future PhD thesis

NPS: The malevolent genie out of the global drug prohibition bottle

I have been reflecting on the debates surrounding the recent passing of a new drug law onto the British statute books which comes into effect from 1st April 2016. This new law, which will act in parallel to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, effectively bans all substances (with the exception of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine) with a ‘psychoactive effect’ on ‘normal brain functioning’. It criminalises possession with intent to supply, with no clear boundaries (as there are not with social dealing of ‘traditional’ street drugs’) as to what will be ‘simple’ possession as opposed to possession with intent to supply. You know my opinion on novel psychoactive substances (NPS), cheap and nasty drugs producing potential acute/chronic harm. But that doesn’t mean I think a blanket ban of ALL psychoactive substances is a good idea, or that it will work any better than our current ‘creaky’ drug ‘control’ system.

Where has this Psychoactive Substances law come from? We need to decipher its emergence if we wish to understand how we have arrived at this slightly ridiculous but also highly problematic situation. It is worth reflecting on the emergence of so called ‘legal highs’, or what are now referred to as ‘novel psychoactive substances’ (NPS) by the scientific community. Drug histories are always useful in understanding drug presents and futures.

In 2009 we first heard talk of ‘mephedrone’ or ‘M-Cat’ in clubs and at afterparties (Measham et al 2010). At that time there was growing user disillusionment with purity of illegal drugs. In the UK in 2009 there was, as one of our interviewees put it, “a dire drug drought” characterised by low purity MDMA tablets (Smith et al 2009). The mean mg of MDMA per ecstasy tablet decreased from 52mg in 2007 to 33mg in 2008. To put this figure in perspective, around 80mg of MDMA is considered to be an ‘active dose’ whilst extremely potent 320mg MDMA pills are now available via the dark web. Moreover from 2007-2009, fake pills containing already banned substance BZP were rife, and cocaine purity had dropped to less than 10% (FSS 2010).

Given this situation, by 2009 dance club-goers were among the first to add mephedrone or ‘M-cat’ to their polydrug repertoires, especially among those in the gay club scene in South London (Measham et al 2011). Those dance drug-takers that could afford it switched from ecstasy pills to ‘purer’ MDMA crystal/powder (Smith et al 2010). Although mephedrone was banned in 2010 by the UK government, its use continues, and many more ‘legal highs’, notably potent ‘herbal smoking mixtures’ and other unknown white powders with stimulant effects, are available in headshops, online, and from street dealers (Measham et al 2011a). NPS are the nasty genie that prohibition let out of the bottle, and one which the UK government, in the passing of this new law, are desperately trying to stuff back inside.

The UK government need to learn one crucial lesson from the emergence of so-called ‘legal highs’. Their emergence is directly related to global prohibition and the war on drugs we have been fighting for over 100 years, some would argue unsuccessfully. Whilst the global prohibition regime may have had some successes in supply reduction, it is less successful by other measures, and crucially extremely unsuccessful in terms of harmful ‘unintended consequences’ of prohibiting psychoactive substances.

So what will the consequences of this new UK law be? It is hard to judge. My hope is that those that wish to take drugs will (re)turn to those we know a lot more about, such as cannabis, MDMA and cocaine. Purity and availability of these ‘traditional’ street drugs have returned to or exceeded pre-2007/2008 levels. At least we know about the effects of these more familiar substances, and can help people mitigate against risks and possible harms. What is clear is that the human desire for intoxication, sometimes at the cost of a person’s health, wealth and even liberty, endures. Without a recognition that demand for psychoactive substances will not go away, banning psychoactive substances will not ‘work’, as, simply put, it hasn’t in the past. Whilst the government pushes through an ill-thought out, clearly politically motivated law, there is little or no provision for resources to enforce it, nor additional resources for drug education, harm reduction, outreach, youth, and alcohol/drug services to help those who have got into trouble with psychoactive substances.

Stay safe,



 Forensic Science Service. Drugs Update: Drugs Intelligence Unit. Birmingham: Drugs Intelligence Unit. 2010; 50.
 Measham, F., Moore, K., Wood, D. and Dargan, P. (2011), The Rise in Legal Highs: Prevalence and patterns in the use of illegal drugs and first and second generation ‘legal highs’ on South London gay dance clubs, Journal of Substance Use, 16(4), pp.263-272.
 Measham, F., Moore, K. and Østergaard, J. (2011a), Mephedrone, “Bubble” and unidentified white powders: the contested identities of synthetic “legal highs”, Drugs and Alcohol Today, 11(3), pp.137-146.
 Measham, F., Moore, K., Newcombe, R. and Welch, Z. (2010), Tweaking, Bombing, Dabbing and Stockpiling: The emergence of mephedrone and the perversity of prohibition, Drugs and Alcohol Today, 10(1).
 Smith, Z, Measham, F and Moore, K. (2009), MDMA Powder, Pills and Crystal: The persistence of ecstasy and the poverty of policy, Drugs and Alcohol Today, 9(1): 13-19.