Music Festivals | 5 Tips to Reduce Drug Harm & Stay Safe

Tip #1 – Know The Landscape, Tip #2 – Educate Yourself, Tip #3 – Drink Water and Lots of It, Tip #4 – Know When to Relax and Refuel, Tip #5 – Bring a Friend and Stay Close. More on safe festival going fun.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Drugs and alcohol are part of festivals. This article presents five practical tips to reduce risk of harm, injury, or overdose.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: Less than 10 minutes.

Table of Contents:

Why Do People Abuse Drugs at Festivals?

The simple answer is simple: to keep the party going.

In fact, people are looking to experience something apart from the every day. Often, they associate a good time with a sense of euphoria, preferably one that lasts for a long period of time. The body can’t naturally produce this kind of sensation on its own and, therefore, people turn to drugs to give it an extra boost. However, there’s more to it than just that.

Peer pressure must also be considered. Admittedly, the festival scene has a lot of drug abusers within its culture. Recent studies have shown that the majority of festival attendees aged 18–30 report a history of illicit drug use. In addition to friend groups that normalize drug use, there’s also the pressure of the festival atmosphere itself. Particularly, if everyone around you is taking drugs, then there’s a group mind that makes it easier to join the crowd.

To top it off, it’s not uncommon for people struggling with addiction to find themselves at these festivals. A common trait of addiction is compulsive behavior which leads individuals to places where a large amount of drugs can be obtained. There are multiple reasons for why a person facing addiction will want to obtain drugs at a festival, but a big one is they can get a hold of large quantities of drugs at one moment and, therefore, have a supply which lasts a long period of time.

What Drugs Do People Abuse at Festivals?

When observing drug trends amongst festival goers, the first thing you’ll notice is that most of them are taking or seeking out stimulants. It’s very unlikely someone at a festival will want a downer or central nervous depressant, as the mood of the scene is “up” and full of energy. A list of common stimulant drugs found at music festivals include:

Adderall. Normally, Adderall is abused by college students looking to cram an entire week’s homework in just one night. However, this amphetamine medication has found popularity within the festival scene as well. When people are high on the drug, it gives them a boost of energy which lasts for a long period of time. This is perfect to keep the party going considering festivals go on for a long period of time and, often, the acts people want to see are one after another.

Alcohol. When we drink, we tend to be much more relaxed and social due to its disinhibiting effects. It comes to no surprise that people in large, social environments are attracted to this substance. By letting the drink “get them loose”, they feel more likely to participate in festival’s various activities, namely dancing. The unfortunate truth is that festival goers are vulnerable to poisoning, especially when they mix alcohol with other drugs.

Cocaine, Crack. Generally, people who take cocaine and/or crack will feel an intense euphoria and increased energy. In a festival setting, this might seem ideal considering the fact that music festivals go on for hours upon hours at a time. With that in mind, it can’t be forgotten that these stimulants don’t necessarily last that long in their high. Therefore, as a means of avoiding a crash, users tend to “binge” and take dose after dose in order to stay high.

Hallucinogens, LSD (acid), Mushrooms, or Research Chemicals. Ever since the 1960s, hallucinogens have been a popular choice for festival goers. The prime reason for this is it changes the way in which the person perceives and witnesses the entire experience. Furthermore, hallucinogens are known for giving those who take them a great amount of energy for a long period of time. This is why psychodellic drugs are billed as an “ideal high” for those who want to stay up all day and night. However, hallucinogens can trigger mental illnesses in people who hadn’t previously experienced mental health complications.

Marijuana. Unlike the other drugs on this list, marijuana is a central nervous system depressant – though effects vary by individual. Though marijuana isn’t as dangerous as the other drugs we’ve listed, it can onset mental complications and cause extreme anxiety.

MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly. This is one of the most popular drugs within the festival and club scene and also one of the most dangerous when taken frequently. The thing about MDMA, ecstasy, and Molly are they’re highly stimulating drugs with very euphoric effects. Therefore, young people tend to overlook the bad and further seek out the thrill they bring to a festival atmosphere. Still, not only can these substances cause brain damage over time, but with too much of a dose, people can experience panic attacks or seizures. Dehydration is also a risk when taking these drugs.

With all this in mind, we’ve laid out some tips for people who want to enjoy the music festival’s have to offer and avoid drugs. The purpose of these tips is not only to educate you on how to stay away from drugs during your time at the festival, but how to keep your body healthily going in order to fully enjoy the festival experience.

Tip #1 – Know the Landscape

Furthermore, it’s in your best interest to get oriented with the festival itself. This includes locations of specific areas of interest, such as medical tents or where to find help, if necessary. Know where to find First Aid. Also, check out whether or not the festival offers free drug testing. These services will take samples of drugs and run laboratory checks for substances like
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA)

You’ll want to get an idea of the area itself and how to navigate through it. This way, when large crowds begin to form (and they will), you won’t have as much difficulty getting from one point to the next. And you’ll be keen on where to find medical aid if you or a friend needs it.

Tip #2 – Educate Yourself

One of the greatest things you can do before considering any psychoactive drug is to inform yourself on how the drug works and its dangers. Evaluate the risks. Be honest with yourself about the effects. What can possibly go wrong? How might you mitigate a “bad trip”, for example? Or, how does the drug interact with other drugs – even pharmaceuticals – that you’re currently taking?

Much of the time, people who attend music festivals are unaware of the potential side effects of drug use. Often, you might spontanesouly decide to use based on curiosity or even compulsion. Risk taking might also be a part of the decision. By teaching yourself the reality of drug use, you won’t be curious. Instead, you’ll be fully aware of whatever a dealer has to offer and the dangers involved.

If you’re looking for resources in which to inform yourself about the effects of psychoactive drugs, you can check out the following websites:

Tip #3 – Drink Water and Lots of It

A festival is bound to drain your energy – with or without drugs. You can look at going to a festival very similarly to doing a work out. You’re going to be sweating a lot, you’re going to need to push your body beyond its normal functioning, and you’re going naturally drain yourself. Water is a natural source of energy to provide yourself with.

So, it’s important to stay hydrated. Though not every festival offers it, but some will have water stations. Know where these places are. Or, pack your water in by the gallons.

It also helps if you plan out how much water you’re going to drink throughout a day. Some drugs impair your thirst reflex. But drinking too much water can increase the risk of electrolyte imbalance or brain swelling. Some drugs like MDMA causes the body to retain water. With this knowledge, coordinate how much water your body receives – which is vital for when you plan to use up a lot of energy.

Tip #4 – Know When to Relax and Refuel

The fierce party environment of a festival may propel you in to hyper mode. Festivals are set up in so people can enjoy themselves when they want to. Some people prefer seeing a live show in the afternoon while others do at night. With that in mind, it’s important not to drain yourself to see every act the festival has to offer.

You’re going to drain yourself regardless. So, with that in mind, avoid trying to keep the party continuously going. If you don’t want stop and let the body’s naturally refuel, you will crash. Not only is this behavior unhealthy, it can lead to terrible consequences, especially if you drive home when the festival is over.

For example, don’t be afraid to take breaks from dancing. We know you don’t want to step away from the music, but it’s vital you do it every now and again. By giving your body a chance to regenerate, you’re making a huge difference. You’re taking the time to allow your body to gain the energy it needs again to get back into the dancing groove. Additionally, fuel up with healthy food many times a day.

Tip #5 – Bring a Friend and Stick Close

By having a friend along for the festival experience, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to stay safe no matter what arises. A friend will not only always be there if things become unsafe, but s/he can support sobriety, if that’s what you’re aiming for. In fact, with someone else by your side who’s also drug-free, you’re less likely to give into peer pressure which spawns drug use.

There’s always the chance you may accidentally separate from your friend during the festival. If this happens, you can always set up a spot to meet. So, scout out the festival’s environment at the beginning. By having a comprehensive idea of what the layout is, you and your friend can be sure never to get lost and know where to go if things go wrong.

It’s Okay to Enjoy Yourself Without Drugs

While at a music festival, you’re going to see a lot of people on drugs. The truth is, you’re also going to see a lot of people enjoying themselves on drugs. You may get the notion that you’re missing out on something. That maybe a hit or two of something isn’t so bad and can really give you the buzz you need to enjoy yourself.

This is anything but true. You don’t need drugs to enjoy your time at a music festival!

The consequences can outweigh the fun. Some of the risks include:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Dehydration
  • Dysphoria, or an extreme depression during a crash
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lack of consciousness
  • Overdose
  • Panic Attacks
  • Risky sexual behavior

When it comes to music festivals, people don’t often consider the long-term effects of their drug use. Rather, they focus solely on the moment and how much they can enjoy their time within this festival.

You don’t have to be that person. You can have fun without drugs. You can find the energy to dance along to the music and be happy without taking drugs. You can be in a drug environment and stay drug free.

This is especially important to people who have struggled with addiction in the part. When it comes to recovery, one of the biggest concerns most have is that of relapse. Relapse can happen at any point in life. Just because you’re in an environment where people use drugs to enjoy themselves doesn’t mean you have to as well. You know what addiction is like and you quit using for specific reasons.

Stick to that reason, prepare for what’s in front of you, and be sure that you’re in a good place before you consider attending a festival.

Your Questions

We hope to have sincerely helped you plan for staying safe during a music festival. However, you might have a pressing question.

If you have any further questions pertaining to how to stay safe and drug free during a festival, we invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any advice to give to others on this topic, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to get back to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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