The Scientific Way to Create a Music Festival Drug Schedule
Plan ahead to avoid a visit to the chillout tent.
Each year, attendees at overnight festivals like Electric Forest, Firefly, and Lightning in a Bottle consume nose loads of powders and mouthfuls of pills, but as they drift away on waves of dopamine, they don’t always have the presence of mind to consider pacing. Which, of course, can have disastrous effects. Kristin Karas, the Visionaries Program coordinator of DanceSafe, an organization dedicated to safety in the electronic music community, says this is what keeps the chillout tent packed. People don’t have a drug schedule because they think drugs should be spur-of-the-moment fun. Sure, that makes sense if you’re heading to a one-night-only Zedd gig, but not if you’re headed to Bonnaroo.
While drug taking at festivals will always be too risky to be considered safe, Karas explains, there are ways to make it less dangerous overall. “The whole concept is harm reduction’,” she tells Inverse. Here’s what not to do on your multi-day trip.
Don’t Mix Stimulants and Depressants
“You would want to keep in mind mixing depressants with other stimulants,” says Karas. For example, consuming alcohol (a depressant) with cocaine (a stimulant), she explains, is one of the most common mistakes made at festivals. When these two drugs are taken together, they react to produce a metabolite called cocaethylene, which can build up in a person’s system, sometimes with fatal results.
Amphetamines are another common stimulant class that tends to get mixed in with alcohol. Case in point: Adderall is often washed down with booze by people looking to stay up and party. Unfortunately, Adderall’s inebriation-dulling effects disguise the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. “Because it’s a prescription drug, sometimes people don’t necessarily think about what the combination is,” Karas says.
These, of course, aren’t the only dangerous pairings. The outcome of pretty much every drug combination under the sun is mapped out in the drug combination chart developed by TripSit, which Karas recommends checking out. While the information isn’t definitive — the data is completely crowdsourced, and it’s constantly being updated — it’s a good place to start research before deciding to stack at a festival.
Don’t Get High Before Bed
After a long day spent turning up at a music festival, it often isn’t easy to turn down. “People will consume MDMA and at the end of the night will have difficulty sleeping, so they’ll try to use a depressant such as an opiate or a benzodiazapine,” Karas says. Unfortunately, the cost of a good night’s sleep at a festival is often pretty steep; the MDMA-benzodiazepine combination, for example, puts a lot of stress on the heart and other bodily functions.