The use of drugs has grown to become synonymous with music festivals and their culture. The Sherp dissects the concerns of the growing phenomenon.
“Dealer Caught Smuggling Drugs In Return For A Festival Ticket Jailed”
“Is Drug Testing More Useful Than Banning Drugs At A Music Festival?”
“Drugs Worth £70,000 Were Recovered At Bestival This Year”
“Here Are The Most Mentioned Festivals And Their Drugs On Instagram”
These are just few of the top running drug-prevalent headlines on our website alone. It doesn’t take a wisecrack to figure that drug consumption at music festivals is at an all time high. Socially speaking, the presence of drugs seems to warrant ‘music festival success’; it has become intrinsic for substances to be present to guarantee a music festival vibe. While this idea contradicts the innate idea that music, and that alone will secure a brilliant festival experience, that hasn’t deterred vapid drug consumption.
Often, drugs consumed in the hysterical surroundings of music festivals lead to unfortunate incidents, with the rise in deaths on festival grounds being a clear consequence of the same. But the comprehension of terminology is at major play here. Can consumption of drugs be termed substance abuse, itself? Not necessarily. Most experienced drug users often get out of music festivals, unharmed. It’s a personal choice of choosing to not be sober at music festivals. The cause of concern is with inexperienced, often first-time users who then consume substances resulting in dysfunctional situations.
Peer pressure often plays an important role. Surrounded by peers drunk and high out of their minds, reveling in their inebriated behaviour can often act as encouragement to many first time user who believe drugs to be essential to “having fun”. But without quite understanding what comes of the drug they’re consuming, they often end up taking copious amounts leading to counterproductive effects.
In as succinct a manner as we possibly can, we round up the most popular drugs consumed at festivals, and the effects they’re likely to produce. Read this, bearing in mind, that the actual effect can be either be more overwhelming, giving the propensity of the actual substance itself.
Weed or Marijuana is an organic drug that is popularly attributed with medicinal properties, rightly so. The symbol of the hippie movement, the weed plant might be the least dangerous of other drugs, if and only if consumed in small proportions.
However, for virgin smokers, weed can often prove detrimental. The short term effects include rapid heart palpitations, disoriented bodily functions, sleepiness, lowered reaction time and depression (often misjudged due to palpitations). While stoners do get away with smoking several joints in a row without any negative effects, a first time user can often encounter a ‘bad trip’, especially when the drug is consumed at as chaotic a place as music festivals can be. Rapid usage of the drug can often lead to heart attacks.
During a ‘bad trip’ panic attacks and anxiety attacks are common, and when encountered at a music festival, the feeling can feel escalated many times over.
Hash or Hashish is a drug that comes from the residue of marijuana buds, and is an extremely potent substance. The effects are pretty much the same as that of marijuana, despite a few innate differences experienced best when smoked. It causes a relaxed and drowsy sensation similar to weed.
But again, when consumed first time at a music festival, the gift of its ‘composure’ can often produce adverse effects amidst festival atmosphere.
MDMA, or Molly or Ecstasy as it more popularly known, is often credited with being the party drug. The immediate effects of the drug might seem positive – heightened energy and euphoria, emotional warmth toward one and all, empathy, and emotional relevancy.
What often goes undiscussed are the side effects of the drug that includes dehydration, food and sleep deprivation, muscle cramping, teeth grinding, high blood pressure often leading to heart attacks, seizures and even, in some unfortunate cases, death. In addiction, anxiety, irritability, aggression, sadness, lack of appetite and fatigue often follow once the drug’s effects have worn out. More commonly referred to as the downer, these effects can last as long as up to one week after the drug has been consumed. In fact, many users keep returning to the drug to get rid of the post-usage slump, thereby becoming addicted to it.
Part of the methamphetamine family like MDMA, Cocaine produces similar short-lived feelings of intensed happiness leading to depression and grief post use, thereby increasing its addictive value. Cocaine overdose has been one of the primary concerns of festival related deaths.
Psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms produce a hallucinatory feeling in an individual. A sort of loopy repetition, leading to distorted mental and visual images. This makes it difficult for an individual to differentiate between fantasy and reality, which in turn can lead to intense emotional breakdowns. This state of mind makes for a dangerous situation when at a music festival.
LSD or Acid is one of the most powerful hallucinogens, eponymous with the counterculture movement of the ‘70s. The drug is relegated to spiritual awakenings, and while that may be true for some; at a festival, its ability to distort reality can often prove dangerous and even fatal to inexperienced users.
The inability to make sense of visual and aural elements can often drive a person to delusionary and dangerous situations.
Most people are familiar with crack lips, the kind that grow to be with smoking hot crack pipes. While crack cocaine attempts to create the same effects as cocaine, its addictive and dangerous effects harm not just the body, but also a person’s psychological well-being.
Most music festivals strictly disallow drug consumption of any kind. Some music festivals, if held in states where marijuana is legal, allow weed consumption, limiting it to just that. Often, this strictness in security, causes people to consume copious amount of drugs before entering the music festival leading to rampant overdoses.
‘Don’t Use Drugs’ is a warning that stands not well with independent adults, often leading to rebellious acts of validation, that cause unforeseen incidents. Besides, at music festivals that command numbers in copious amounts, drug checking can often prove futile.
What festivals can do
Experts have argued since several years now that banning drug consumption completely leads to young people finding more and more creative ways to consume and smuggle it. As mentioned, the over-consumption to avoid getting caught with drugs proves the easiest way to an overdose. So, what can festival organisers do?
Regular drug checkups on festival grounds prove a more effective way to combat overdosing patients. Festivals must also include medicinal kits veritable enough to help patients experiencing drug reactions of the extreme kind, as large festival grounds make it impossible to reach them to a nearby hospital on time.
Moreover, festival organisers should take part in drug-related discussions. To know and understand more about the effects drugs can have, and what can be legalised to account for a better, and safer environment.
Our word for you
Music Festivals are expansive, chaotically crowded places of action. With so much going around, it’s impossible to keep your mental and physical balance intact. Taking drugs, in addition to that, is a risky responsibility that not everyone must undertake.
If you are an experienced drug user, you’re more likely to be aware of the adverse effects of each drug, so exercise caution. Do not ever coerce a first timer into doing a drug they might be hesitant to try. If you’re a first timer, curious to want do drugs, a music festival might not be the best place for your first experience. Be fearful enough to back out, if you must.
With legalities in place, we advice you to know everything about the substance rules at a festival. Drug-related offences lead to major punishments undeserving for a twenty-something adult.