It's time to talk about drugs… Again. We're not going to sugarcoat this and pretend that people aren't doing drugs at music festivals with their "zero tolerance" policies. That might sound great at a city council hearing, but the bottom line is it is not reality- not at a festival, and not in life.
Let's face the raw facts- people like to get high - this has been happening since forever. And many music fans (all types of music- not just EDM) are going to festivals to get high and lose themselves to their favorite artists. No law, music ban, or P.S.A. is going stop this. It hasn't stopped drug use in the past, and won't stop it tomorrow.
Drugs are a significant part of music culture. They are widely available and they are frequently ingested at events with lots of lights and party vibes, this is no secret. When you purchase a ticket to a music event, you pretty much acknowledge the silent disclaimer, 'You will be exposed to a rainbow of drugs and drug use. Discretion is advised.' Playing the oblivious, innocent, naive card is NOT the responsible thing to do, and your party privileges should be revoked instantly.
So we are calling it like it is. You don't like it? TOO BAD. Someone needs to address this issue realistically, because nobody else will. We're not saying we have the solution, but we are sure as hell going to make an effort to stop people from dying. So, yes a lot people are high at music festivals. Now that we've established that- here are some other things to remember:
1.There's a chunk of people running around festivals who have no idea what they're taking, how it's affecting them OR what to do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation. These are the ones who frequently believe that Molly is pure MDMA , and that the guy that sold it to them in the 7-11 parking lot was like, totally cool and nice.
2. There's another chunk of people who have no idea what to do if they see an overdose, heat stroke, or other adverse reaction at a festival, which doesn't help the situation, and may potentially make it even worse.
3. Unfortunately, there is another large chunk of people at a festival who "DGAF, because YOLO bro." I mean, for sure! These people do not know their limits- or are unfamiliar with how drugs work and what they do to human physiology. Food For Thought: You only DIE once. So throw that yolo crap out of the window and let's take some responsibility for our actions, ok? OK. Moving on. #YODO
When you take drugs, whether legal or not so legal, there are effects. These effects can be stimulating, exciting and wonderful, or they can bring out darkness, cause sickness or permanent cellular damage and threaten your life. It all comes down to the user. It comes down to health, preexisting conditions, and responsibility. Oooh, the big scary grown-up "R" word. Responsibility is the number one thing we forget because we're at a PARTY! We want to have fun. Unfortunately, due to the inherent danger of drug use, multiplied by the questionable quality of street drugs and the increasing number of uneducated users, omitting responsibility is not an option.
If you and your friends are choosing to use drugs, it is a good idea to have a plan in place in case something goes wrong- start with selecting someone who can stay sober and be a point of contact- much like a designated driver. And remember, the first thing to always do is to know the location of authorized medical or security personnel who can take control of the situation.
Below is a list of a what to do if you notice something out of the ordinary, no matter how small. This is not medical advice. However, these are a few steps that anyone can do that might make the difference between life and death.
My friend took a party drug and I think she's in trouble, what do I do?
Determine what it is your friend took. Was it a stimulant, a depressant or a hallucinogen? Better yet, know what he or she is taking before hand. Find out how long ago was the drug ingested and if your friend has been hydrating properly. Also note what has changed in the behavior that makes you think there is an emergency. This is important information that is vital for medical personnel to know.
DO NOT wait to "see if it wears off." It won't. If you think your friend is in trouble, he or she likely is, and it is up to you at this point to ensure their safety. Will you get in trouble? NO, you will not. Here's what to do:
On your way to the medical tent (yes, we're going there.):
- Remove your friend from the loud, crowded environment and let them know you're going for a "walk".
- Give your friend small sips of water, do not let them gulp - if they're experiencing an overdose this can make it much worse.
- If your friend cannot move, send someone to get help immediately.
- Walk together at a comfortable speed, offering balance. Do not try to rush, and take short breaks if needed.
- Keep your friend conscious, talk to them and ask them about things that are surrounding them.
- Maintain a light and airy attitude, if you're freaking out it puts their mental state at risk for erratic behavior.
- Respect them. If they need to sit, allow them to take a break. If they need water, shell out the $5. If they need to cry, let them. Do not force them to walk fast, drink fast, or yell at them. Be kind, but stay mindful of your friend's condition. If it's getting worse, send someone for help.
Once you get to the medical tent, tell the staff everything you know from what your friend took, how much, how long ago and what their behavior has been like since they ingested. Every little bit of information helps.
I think someone is overdosing, should I help them? What if it's just heat stroke?
YES! Please do not overlook someone who is suffering from any type of medical emergency! Remember that overdoses are frequently confused with a heat stroke. Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, or by doing physical activity in heated conditions. You are considered to have heat stroke if your body reaches 104F or higher. Generally, heat stroke is recognized by intense cramps, forcing you to cool down. If you don't cool down - symptoms such as heavy sweating, nausea, lightheadedness and faintness are bound to take over. If someone is showing the signs of heatstroke emergency treatment is needed. If untreated heatstroke can cause damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles and may result in death.
- If they are conscious, ask them if they've taken anything or drank. If they answer yes -- get them to medical ASAP.
- If they are unconscious, they need to get medical attention immediately.
- Are their pupils dilated?
- Has their skin become discolored (tinged with blue, or paled)?
- Is there vomit/foam present?
If yes, this is likely drug-related. Grab a ground control rep or security guard and have them help you.
I want to try drugs for the first time, what can I do to keep myself safe?
Let's be clear, we do not promote or condone the use of drugs. They are illegal and dangerous. But if you find yourself thinking about making this decision, there are some things to be conscious of...
- Are you on any herbal or prescription drugs? If you are, please just stay away from illegal ones. The chances of you having an adverse reaction are much, much higher and pose a greater risk of fatality. If you really want to try them- consult your doctor.
- Take care of yourself before hand. Prepare your body for what's coming by eating well, refraining from alcohol and keeping yourself hydrated and well supplemented before you drop bombs. Maintaining optimal health is crucial and may be a life saver. Do not party for days straight and then decide to become a pill popping animal. You will not come out of it with a happy ending.
- Do not do notdo not mix your substances. A cake walk isn't as fun as it sounds. You are not Kurt Cobain, do not fistful your party drugs into your system all at once. Moderation is key and simplicity is the only choice. Mixing substances (drugs, alcohol, other drugs) can cause your body to overload and shut down.
- Be in a comfortable environment. This is especially true with hallucinogens. Once you take those, there's no going back. You are on a 12 hour ride, ruled by the drug.
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated, but don't over do it. Over consumption of water can make you sick.
- Honor your body. If you need a break, take it. If you need to rest, listen to your body and have enough respect for yourself to calm down.
- Get away from "Team No Sleep." Seriously, they're stupid and probably lost half of their brain cells. SLEEP. This is especially true during multi-day festivals. If you're taking drugs, drinking, dancing and partying - make sure you're also getting adequate sleep. Over exhaustion leads to critical immune functions shutting down and becoming less responsive.
Someone I know is tripping way too hard, what can I do to help them?
First of all, be careful. If someone you know is under the influence of hallucinogens, it is not always them you are talking to, but the drugs instead. Hallucinogens have the ability to completely take over the brain of the user and manipulate thoughts, senses and actions. An overdose on hallucinogens is called A Psychedelic Crisis. This experience can be extremely complex and difficult to understand as generally there are many working parts involved in the crisis. For an in depth explanation, please CLICK HERE.
The best thing to do is to seek medical help immediately.
SIGNS OF A DRUG OVERDOSE
Depressants - Heroin, Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Valium, Xanax, Diazepam (Opiates & Benzodiazepines)
Dissociative Drugs- Ketamine, PCP, Salvia, Dextromethorphan
- Shallow Breathing or not breathing at all
- Snoring or gurgling sounds
- Blue lips or fingertips
- Floppy arms and legs
- No response to stimulants
Alcohol Overdose (Poisoning)
- Loss of coordination
- Irregular or slowed breathing
- Blue-tinged or pale skin
- Stupor (conscious but unresponsive)
Stimulants - Cocaine, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, GHB
- Chest Pain
- Severe Headache
- High Temperature (overheating but not sweating)
- Difficulty Breathing
- Agitation or paranoia
Understanding Your Tolerance & "Half Life"
When a person uses a drug regularly they develop tolerance to it. This means they need to use more to get the same effect. Similarly, if a person hasn’t been using regularly – or if they’ve not been able to get drugs – their tolerance will drop. When people take their usual amount of drugs after a break from using, it could be too much for the body to cope with and lead to an overdose. This is why high-risk situations for drug overdose include post-release from prison, detoxification and rehabilitation. Someone on naltrexone can also be at risk if they use soon after stopping oral medication, or skipped a dose, or when the effects of a naltrexone implant have ceased.
Half-life” refers to the time it takes for a drug to drop to half the strength of its original dose. Some drugs have a long half-life, for example some benzodiazepines. If a person has used yesterday, they may still have enough in their system today to overdose if they use more. Diazepam (Valium) has one of about 24 hours, so if you took 20mg yesterday you would still have approximately 10mg of diazepam active in your system today. If you were then to use heroin or morphine, you would have an increased risk of overdose as you would be using the opioids in addition to that 10mg of diazepam."
Ok cool. So we read through this all and this where we all say P.L.U.R.R and kumbaya and send everyone on their merry way? Nope. You're not done. Re-read this, share it with your friends, do your own research. Stop rationalizing your own drug use and realize the realities of what you are putting in your own body. Go to Dancesafe.org and get a testing kit, and then test whatever you plan on taking. Check PillReports.com for any suspected adulterated pills. And remember, the best way to avoid any of these scenarios is to stay sober.
It is up to you to stop these tragedies from happening. It starts with you right now.