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Dangers of Music Festival Drug Use

Music festivals can be a fun experience for many people who enjoy live bands playing electronic dance music, a lively crowd, and an alternative way to unwind during the summer.

Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, Summerfest, and Lollapalooza are some major festivals that have made their mark in the music festival world.

However, all music festivals have another thing in common:  drug use.

Drug use has been associated with music festivals since the debut of Woodstock in 1969.

Music festivals and drug use are common for those engaged in the culture.

Drug use is never safe, especially in the summer heat in the middle of a large crowd.

The heat can exacerbate the unpleasant side effects of drug use and can lead to a multitude of physical problems, including death.

Despite there being medical staff on-site, it can be difficult for personnel to know if an individual needs medical assistance in the large sea of people.

A commonly used drug at music festivals is 3-4Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), otherwise known as ecstasy and molly.

Other drugs used at music festivals include cannabis/marijuana; psychedelics such as mushrooms and lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD; and stimulants such as Adderall and cocaine.

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Commonly Used Drugs at Music Festivals


MDMA was made popular at rave clubs and parties.

It has since made waves at music festivals.

It is colloquially known as ecstasy and molly.

MDMA is a synthetic psychoactive drug that affects mood and perception.

It is taken orally or insufflated.

Ecstasy is usually in pill form, while molly is typically a powder or is crystallized.

They both produce an intense euphoria similar to stimulants and hallucinogens.

Ecstasy and molly also increase energy, pleasure, empathy, sexual arousal, and comfort in the surroundings.

Sensory and time perception are also altered.

The duration of the effects lasts from 3-6 hours, and the peak at around 90 minutes.

MDMA is not only dangerous on its own but also because it is an unregulated drug on the black market.

This means it is often cut with harmful fillers.

Some negative health effects include nausea, chills, sweating, muscle cramping, clenching jaw, headache, and impaired vision.

MDMA is easy to overdose on because many people continue to take dosages when the drug is not yet out of their system.

MDMA overdose symptoms include hyperthermia (this is especially true in music festivals where it is hot and there is a large crowd), fainting, high blood pressure, unconsciousness, panic attacks, seizures, and death.

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Psychedelics have long been a popular choice among music festival attendees. They have been associated with the “hippie” counterculture of the 1960s. This does not mean these drugs are safe or less dangerous than other drugs. Psychedelics are a class of hallucinogenic drugs that include psilocybin (mushrooms), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD or acid), ayahuasca, and N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Psychedelics are typically consumed orally. The onset and duration of psychedelics depend on the drug and physical factors of the user. When these drugs are consumed and the effects are felt, it is colloquially called a “trip” because of the visual and auditory hallucinations it produces. Other effects include mood changes, alternative perceptions of reality, and increased sensory sensitivity to environmental and physical stimuli. Negative health effects include paranoia from hallucinations (also known as a “bad trip”), confusion, irregular heartbeat, chills, sweating, vomiting, and tremors. Psychedelics are also not safe because it impairs reality and judgment. People self-harm and even kill themselves, intentionally or accidentally due to these impairments. At a music festival, in a crowd of many people, it is dangerous to use because of what the user may do to themselves or others.


Cannabis, or marijuana, is a commonly used drug among people of all ages, and especially at music festivals. This is another drug that is commonly associated with the “hippie” counterculture. It is also known as weed, bud, grass, pot, and Mary Jane. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that produces the effects of euphoria, relaxation, distorted perception of time, and increased appetite. Marijuana is usually smoked in a joint, cigar, water pipe (bong). Oil concentrate (also known as “dabs”) of marijuana can be vaporized using a specialized water pipe or dab pen. However, it can be taken orally through edible food that contains the drug. Marijuana can come in the form of dried flower and oil concentrate. When inhaled, the effects are felt almost immediately. The duration of the drug is from two to four hours. Negative health effects include impaired memory, confusion, paranoia, delusions, breathing difficulty from smoke, increased heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. Despite popular myths, marijuana has a potential for abuse that can lead to addiction. Long-term health effects include psychosis, hallucinations, impaired short and long-term memory, lung illness (if smoked), and other mental health issues.


Stimulants, also called “uppers”, are often used at music festivals for their ability to energize and feel focused. Stimulants are a psychoactive drug that produces the effects of intense euphoria, increased energy, expedient physical and mental processes, decreased appetite, and increased confidence. Stimulants include drugs such as cocaine, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder prescription medications such as Adderall, and methamphetamine. These drugs are consumed orally, through insufflation, through smoking, and intravenously. Negative health effects include increased heart rate, increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, tremors, intense anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Long-term effects of stimulants include weight loss, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal problems, decreased sexual arousal, exhaustion, breathing problems, stroke, and seizures. It can also lead to death. At music festivals, people often consume stimulants to drink alcohol and/or take more drugs. Stimulants are dangerous on their own and consuming the drug with alcohol and other drugs make it all the more dangerous. Taking stimulants at a music festival comes with an increased risk of negative health effects due to the heat and crowd of people.

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Staying Sober at Music Festivals

The best way to sober at music festivals is to be prepared.  Enjoy the music and experience the moment for what it is.  The moment is about staying safe and having fun with people you can trust.  Go with friends who will not pressure you to use drugs.  Drugs are not necessary to have fun at music festivals.  It is a fulfilling experience on its own.  Here are some tips to stay safe at music festivals:

  • Choose a sober crowd to go with and be around
  • Be aware of what triggers make drug use tempting
  • Eat and stay hydrated
  • Know where medical tents are located
  • Plan your way of transportation to and from
  • Keep your phone charged
  • Make sure you will be willing and able to leave if you feel the temptation to do drugs

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