“Nightlife all the time survives.”
“It survived the nice melancholy, and it survived the AIDs pandemic within the 80s,” Joseph J. Palamar, Affiliate Professor within the Division of Inhabitants Well being at New York College Langone Medical Heart, tells EDM.com. “Nightlife will all the time come again.”
The phrases of the world opening up after greater than a 12 months of isolation, loneliness, and tragedy are unsure. However there’s one thing we all know for positive: we love to bounce with our buddies. And for the primary time in additional than a 12 months, that looks like a real—and imminent—chance.
As we write this piece, 39% of the U.S. inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. It feels a bit simpler every single day to think about that sometime quickly a few of us will as soon as once more be safely dancing in a crowd.
Nonetheless, when discussing the subject of substance use at music festivals and events, Dr. Palamar’s outlook is a bit bleaker. “I’m just a little apprehensive that some folks will go overboard,” he mentioned.
Because the dwell music scene picks up the items of a misplaced 12 months on its elusive quest to reopening, we’ve been excited about how the results of the pandemic might layer on high of current dangers for drug-related antagonistic occasions at music festivals. We additionally marvel if public well being techniques within the U.S. are ready to help security at music festivals. And if they aren’t, what can we do to repair that?
Dangers of Doing Medication at Festivals
Typically folks expertise antagonistic occasions whereas utilizing medicine. These unfavorable results are usually not essentially distinctive to music festivals, however could be enhanced and exacerbated by the bodily and emotional depth of their ecosystems. Research persistently reveals that drug-related antagonistic occasions are to be anticipated in music pageant settings.
There are lots of dangers that have an effect on these unfavorable outcomes reminiscent of dehydration, overheating, exhaustion, taking an excessive amount of of a substance, polysubstance use (ingestion of a number of substances—particularly alcohol), and pre-existing medical circumstances. Sure psychotropic substances additionally might additional enhance one’s danger by impacting our physique’s skill to manage warmth.
Dinah Applewhite is a doctor at Massachusetts Normal Hospital who additionally has lived pageant expertise. She notes that festivals are a “setup for dehydration and overheating provided that persons are dancing in shut proximity, usually in sizzling climate, with restricted entry to water.”
Dangers of Doing Medication at Festivals in a “Publish-COVID” World
Madalyn McElwain is the Chief Authorized & Monetary Officer at DanceSafe, a non-profit public well being group with a mission to “foster and advocate for safer, more healthy, and extra fulfilling experiences for folks in music, arts, nightlife, and drug utilizing communities.”
As nightlife and music festivals return at a dizzying tempo, McElwain advised us that she thinks two of the largest dangers are decrease tolerance and the potential for tough emotional experiences to manifest following a interval of extended isolation.
Applewhite added that similar to anybody with a persistent well being situation, folks with “lengthy COVID” or normal longterm results from contracting the virus have to take their well being under consideration when making choices about drug use.
With these dangers in thoughts, hurt discount strategies are steps that each venues and people can take to make sure the protection of all. Harm reduction is a set of sensible methods and concepts aimed toward decreasing unfavorable penalties related to drug use.
COVID-19 additionally confirmed us that harm reduction is a life-saving tool on the subject of staying secure. Telling folks to by no means go away the home was largely ineffective however giving folks the instruments to partake in actions in a safer approach, reminiscent of masks, hand-washing, and social distancing—even when they selected to take dangers—was a most popular technique of public well being consultants throughout the nation. We will take these classes discovered from the pandemic and apply them to making a safer pageant expertise.
If festival-goers decide to take medicine at any given occasion, they should take into account the purity and dosage of their medicine in addition to their strategies of ingestion. Applewhite advised us that attendees needs to be conscious that mixing a number of substances will increase danger, particularly when one of many medicine is alcohol. In 2016, alcohol was concerned in over 50,000 drug-related poisonings within the U.S., of which 85% concerned the concurrent use of different medicine.
Each McElwain and Palamar confused the significance of attendees growing a plan. The previous recommends going with “not less than one buddy that you just really feel secure with and belief,” whereas the latter advocates for a brief, five-minute checkin with your pals or group earlier than going out. Palamar encourages a plan that features questions like:
- Are we doing medicine tonight?
- If sure, how a lot?
- Are we getting them or do we have now them already?
- If one thing is obtainable to us, are we utilizing it?
- In that case, what drug?
- Are we mixing it with alcohol?
Except for particular person modifications, the onus can also be on the occasion organizers and promoters to acknowledge the essential function they play in making certain the protection of attendees. Very important companies for them to supply might embrace free water and “drug checking” companies, amongst different measures. If organizers need to outsource, there are a number of organizations within the U.S. that provide hurt discount companies at festivals and nightlife occasions.
McElwain and Palamar each advised us that the largest authorized barrier to instating hurt discount companies at music festivals is the perceived concern of prosecution below what’s colloquially generally known as the RAVE Act of 2003. Competition organizers and insurers repeatedly use the RAVE Act as a motive to disclaim attendees fundamental hurt discount companies, like drug schooling and even free water.
Nonetheless, there may be solely one known case of prosecution below this legislation. Letters from the Division of Justice detailed on Amend The RAVE Act in 2018 verify that the supply of water and drug schooling are usually not by themselves violations of the RAVE Act. Although the chance of authorized points appears low, Palamar tells us that “no promoter or membership proprietor actually feels secure disseminating hurt discount info as a result of they may get in hassle for it.”
One other potential authorized roadblock for pageant organizers lies in state drug paraphernalia legal guidelines. They differ by state however in Massachusetts, for instance, possession or use of fentanyl take a look at strips is authorized, however the delivery or sale of them is criminalized. Nonetheless, in Pennsylvania it is a misdemeanor charge to even possess fentanyl take a look at strips.
A option to enable occasion areas and organizers to extra simply and legally present hurt discount companies could be to amend the RAVE Act and alter drug paraphernalia legal guidelines. The Amend The RAVE Act group pushes to do exactly that, and DanceSafe has a guide for advocating modifications to drug paraphernalia legal guidelines in your state.
And when you’re advocating for hurt discount at music festivals, it’s vital to do not forget that the burden of drug-related antagonistic occasions is low in comparison with the numbers for deadly and non-fatal opioid overdose throughout america. Whereas “drug checking” ought to definitely be out there at extra music festivals, the measures that at present exist are primarily focused in direction of music festivals.
In line with Applewhite, who offers major care and dependancy drugs for a lot of stigmatized and weak individuals who use medicine, our advocacy can also be wanted to develop and enhance entry to dignified well being look after all individuals who use medicine and never only a privileged few.
So What Now?
Applewhite notes that after a interval of isolation, reuniting at festivals might show to be profoundly therapeutic and permit us to really feel reconnected by a deep sense of neighborhood.
Nonetheless, being in a pageant setting and utilizing medicine after a 12 months away can also stir anxiousness. Applewhite factors to self-assessment as key, suggesting that folks “needs to be aware about how their mindset after a interval of isolation might make them expertise festivals or medicine in a different way.”
In the event you’re questioning what steps you’ll be able to tackle a person degree, there are hurt discount measures you and your pageant crew can take to have a enjoyable, secure time whereas attending occasions:
- In the event you resolve to make use of medicine, have a plan
- Dose just a little decrease if you happen to haven’t utilized in awhile
- Check your medicine, if attainable
- Eat one thing earlier than going out
- Drink water earlier than going out and whereas out
- Enable your self to relaxation sooner or later throughout your day out
Everybody deserves to have a secure pageant expertise whatever the substances they’ve taken. The promise of safely dancing collectively is on the horizon. Following the following pointers may help set you and your pals up for fulfillment. Advocating for change will enable others to have a enjoyable, secure, and transformative time—for festival-goers now and generations to come back.
Editor’s Notice: EDM.com discourages and condemns illicit drug use at music festivals.