The Dangers of Drugs at Music Festivals

You could think you’re a superhero and then go on to really hurt yourself. Not to mention the obvious post-traumatic stress effects on mental health. An occasional tipple is fine but if you’re going to go all Oli Reed on the booze you’re looking at several scenarios. Best case being that you’ll wake up with a hangover that’ll range from a mild sense of irritating nausea to the type of brain pain that’ll have you searching the Yellow Pages for an exorcist. Worst case scenario is you get permanent brain damage, mental health problems and a full on alcohol dependency. Withdrawal symptoms from even a few days of heavy drinking can include anxiety, depression, sweating, tremors, sleep problems, heart palpitations and more.

The risk of addiction is often overlooked by young people who can see it as something that happens to older people. By chasing the first euphoric high during a summer of freedom it can be a slippery slope before a person finds themselves at risk of losing everything. Whilst the most commonly used drug is marijuana, these numbers also include ecstasy , cocaine, and ketamine, amongst others. The effects these drugs have on the body can vary vastly, but they can all lead to long-term physical and psychological problems. And for what it’s worth, she tells us, there have been plenty more positive experiences with drugs, some of which have formed some of her best memories at festivals. Of the 1229 participants, 372 said they used or planned to use drugs at the festival.

Meanwhile, drugs purchased online through the 'dark web' are increasing in purity, being up to twice as strong as those a person may have bought and used previously, as the BBC found. Many young people will finish their exams and the relief brings a rush of exhilaration - but then the nervous energy comes in waiting for results. All of this creates a state in which young people may lose sight of the consequences of drug-taking.

The Australian study, led by researchers at the University of NSW, surveyed festivalgoers at six music festivals in New South Wales that took place between November 2019 and March 2020. Your life will slowly turn upside down, you’ll be stuck in a constant state of lethargy, you’ll be constipated, you’ll be itchy, dizzy and all in all you’ll probably not be a very fun person to be with. Plus there’s the constant risk of overdose and depending on how you’re taking it you could be at risk of other infections. You can’t really tell how strong DMT is until you’ve taken it, which makes it tricky to assess your intake and then once your trip has started there’s no way to stop it. It’s like getting on a long-haul flight when you’ve got a fear of flying, you’re not getting off. Aside from the usual mental health effects, you’re also likely to vomit and feel nauseous, coupled with raised blood pressure and heart palpitations.


The advice is often to try things in small doses in private environments with trusted people. While some of Chloe’s friends will forgo them, the majority will engage, so among them it’s normalised behaviour. Obviously bad trip rules still apply and it could definitely go horribly wrong. Here’s the lowdown on the most popular drugs, where they’re getting taken and exactly how much you'll probably regret taking them.

A new study has found that the presence of police at music festivals can lead some attendees to “panic overdose”, consuming all their drugs prior to entering the site. We can help you to withdraw safely and comfortably from the effects of excessive alcohol or drug consumption with a medical detox. Followed by intensive one-to-one counselling and group therapy to understand your motivations and triggers. We will find the best methods to help you live life free from alcohol or drugs.

  • ‘I’d say the freedom of being away from normal life for five days definitely is a factor in this, but it’s not the only one.
  • A leading addiction psychiatrist at the Priory has spoken out during the festival season about the dangers of drugs – and the risk of fatality or conditions such as psychosis and panic disorders.
  • It would be an oversight not to mention the most ubiquitous festival drug - alcohol.

One study revealed that the majority of those transported to hospital from outdoor music festivals were young people who had consumed alcohol to excess . Security measures are there to help keep festival goers safe, but it is acknowledged that some people will still try and bring drugs to events. If you choose to take drugs at a festival, it is important to understand what you are taking and eco sober house boston the effects that these drugs could have on your body so that you can make your own informed decision and try to reduce potential harm. Even if you don’t take drugs but think your friends might, read our harm reduction guide so you are clued up on how you can look after each other. It’s not just the illegal drugs, many festivals have beer tents which are open throughout the entire festival.

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Assistant Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police, Andy Battle, said the police “can never condone the use of illegal drugs”, but added that it had to “adapt” its approach “in the interests of public safety”. This year, Bestival has said that although it "strongly advises festivalgoers to avoid taking any illegal substances", it will allow testing by The Loop to give people "the opportunity to make informed choices". Drugs campaign group The Loop has previously tested the contents of substances seized by police and security at events but wants more festivalgoers to be allowed to have samples tested themselves. The freedom creates a sense of invincibility, and the atmosphere at festivals lends itself toward prolonged partying. Young people continue to push themselves to dangerous levels to keep going in the hopes of creating what they believe will be the best memories with their friends. This invincibility is worsened by drugs like ecstasy which can cause over-confidence.

Young people who buy drugs on-site from an unknown festival dealer to minimise the risk of police detection inadvertently face the risk of consuming a different substance to the one they believe they purchased, the study highlights. In complete honesty no one truly knows the exact long term effects of these drugs, owing in part to the amount of awful things it’s typically cut with. What we do know is that between 1996 and 2012 it was linked to just shy of 600 deaths and is known to cause heart, liver and kidney problems.

The influence of these adulterants on the EPs of the drugs in the binary mixtures (Fig. S3†) is assessed based on the change in potential of the characteristic drug peaks (Table S3†) they cause. Importantly, these findings lead to the definition of potential intervals for each peak. For example, if the presence of the adulterants of a drug tends to cause a positive shift in the peak potential of that drug, then the interval is made larger on that side of the peak.

  • Find out where they are located when you arrive and feel confident about accessing this service, you won’t get into trouble.
  • 2, which contains the EP of the four target drugs, measured in the previously mentioned pH7F and pH12 measuring conditions.
  • In my research over the last six years at UK festivals, anything up to a third of festival goers have reported taking illegal drugs, depending on the type of festival, of course.
  • If neither the conditions for ACK detection are fulfilled nor those of MDMA, then the result of the measurement is negative.

This is mainly the case in pH7F, as these measuring conditions have an enriching effect on the EPs of not only drugs but all compounds containing primary or secondary amines. The proximity of all these signals again highlights the necessity of combining multiple measuring conditions to obtain differentiation. When multiple target compounds have to be detected by the same single sensor, this strategy becomes cumbersome due to potentially overlapping peaks. 2, which contains the EP of the four target drugs, measured in the previously mentioned pH7F and pH12 measuring conditions. Blindly denying the presence of drugs at festivals is naïve, and ideological opposition to harm reduction through drug testing is counterproductive.


Young people need to know that they will have no idea what’s in the substance – powder, pill, capsule – they are being offered or sold. In Switzerland there have been no ‘party drug’ deaths in the last six years, which the authorities believe is due to drug checking. Indeed in Zurich, drug related problems are considerably lower than elsewhere in Switzerland, which has less drug checking, whereas the reverse might be expected given that Zurich has the most clubs, parties and consumption of ‘party drugs’. The Loop, which has said people who do use drugs should take only a small amount to test how it affects them, also issues alerts via social media about potentially dangerous adulterated or high-strength batches they have identified. In May two young adults died at the Mutiny dance music festival in Portsmouth, after organisers issued an alert about the availability of dangerous drugs at the site.

Outside the capital cities and the coastal fringes, the towns and people of rural and regional Australia have had to be inventive to get through the tough times. Music festivals tend to be geared toward young audiences, and may constitute the site of sexual harassment and assault against younger women. If you have any questions you should contact the organisers of the event that you are going to. After a year of no festivals and a lengthy break from partying, it's even more important to pace yourself and be aware that your tolerance levels may have greatly reduced.

Taking stronger drugs in higher doses without realising leaves young people open to developing a dependence and eventually can result in drug addiction. If you’re concerned about young people and drugs, there is help available. Pre-processed voltammograms of lidocaine and amphetamine in pH7F and in pH12.


After a festival, young people may want to start drinking to excess again to get rid of these unpleasant symptoms, which is where the cycle of alcohol addiction begins. Optimizing the choice of interval limits is a gradual process and eco sober house price the more samples are analyzed, the more accurate these become. Therefore, this outcome is promising as further optimization on relevant drug samples will filter out these few false identifications and thereby improve the performance.

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2, the oxidation potentials of the C1, A1, M2 and K1 peaks in pH7F are all located in a narrow potential zone (0.98–1.03 V). While MDMA can be selectively detected by utilizing the M1 peak, differentiation between the other three drugs is complicated. Music festivals, including Glastonbury and Bestival, have used their websites to warn festival-goers about the dangers of legal high drugs. This stance – a lack of political permission – may lead to the preventable deaths of more young Australians. It is time for our politicians and police to adopt measures to support the health of young people.

  • If you choose to take drugs at a festival, it is important to understand what you are taking and the effects that these drugs could have on your body so that you can make your own informed decision and try to reduce potential harm.
  • It’s ineffective to use drug dogs at festivals and in public places because they’re much more likely to catch small-time users than suppliers.
  • Full-time as an NHS healthcare assistant – a physically demanding, but poorly-paid job – prior to her imprisonment.
  • Information to make informed decisions about the effects of alcohol on your life and lifestyle.
  • If you are having a bad time or struggling but don’t feel you need medical attention, visit the welfare team.

The flowchart method uses the additional electrochemical information provided by follow-up measurements to improve performance. Application of this method to the voltammograms obtained for the 40 confiscated samples in pH7F and pH12 (Fig. S5 and Table S5†) leads to a correct identification in 80.0% of the cases . The main source of wrongful classifications is the series of ketamine samples, with 6 out of 10 classed as MDMA (Table S5†). It appears that a shoulder on the K1-peak of ketamine arises at high concentrations in pH7F, which is separated into a peak by the pre-processing step and which activates the M1 interval of MDMA (Fig. S5 and Table S5†).

People under the age of 25 are more aware of peer pressure and more likely to drink more than they should to keep up appearances. It’s also common for young people to plan their festival drinking ahead of time, pre-loading before the event and saving up money so they can drink all day when they get there. As well as the obvious health risks, festival drinking over several days can build up a tolerance that is hard to manage when it’s time to come home. Music festivals not only provide an environment that makes drugs and alcohol more readily available, they’re also often the first time a young person has travelled independently or even stayed away from their parents overnight. Buoyed by the freedom of revelling with friends, it can be hard to resist the temptations surrounding them. Just as having a beer or glass of wine seems natural at parties, drug taking has become synonymous with festivals and is seen as a way of bonding and having fun.

If you are found in possession of drugs you may be arrested and are liable to prosecution and/or may not be allowed to go into the festival. If you are found with drugs once on site, you may be ejected and/or arrested. Young people attend music festivals throughout the summer in their droves but can be exposed to drug-taking in an environment that normalises it. In many cases, they then go on to university in the autumn and experience increasing peer pressure alongside added freedom. Examined the overdose deaths of five young people at local music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019. The human brain continues to develop until the age of 25, so any excessive drug or alcohol use can have devastating long-term effects and over-exposure at festivals could be the catalyst for a lifelong habit.

Drug charities cautioned against using the figures as an indicator about general drug use, suggesting that seizures depend on many other variables, ranging from police priorities to the weather. The biggest proportional increase saw confiscations of piperazine, or BZP, increase in value tenfold over the same period, though last year's total still amounted to less than half of those for each of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. Just over £21,000 worth of cocaine was seized last year, compared to £88,000 in 2009, while the street value of confiscated cannabis last year was also down more than 75%. Police forces will reportedly continue to arrest drug dealers but not the drug users visiting the tents. It called on Ministers to act now by providing a safety net for live events scheduled to take place after June 21 by introducing a time-limited insurance scheme. MPs called on the Government to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to enable drug checking services to operate lawfully, such as those operated by The Loop, co-founded by Prof Measham, which conducted testing at the Boomtown festival in Hampshire.

Many of the same bits of advice that apply with illegal drugs apply to alcohol. It is easy to find you’ve been drinking all day particularly if it’s been sunny and you might be thirsty. In the case of alcohol you need to avoid dehydration so we would advise making sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. At least alcohol should have the strength on the cask or bottle but take note of it. You may be used to drinking standard strength cider or beer at home but it is all too easy to end up supping much stronger scrumpy or ale than you’re used to.

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