Unfortunately, this can also mean experimentation with drugs. There have been numerous cases of young people dying in recent years from ecstasy or other substances at music festivals. A few examples:
- In 2016, an 18-year-old woman died after a festival in Houston, after taking “a form of tainted ecstasy.”
- A 24-year-old man died of “MDMA intoxication” at a Las Vegas festival in 2015.
- A 19-year-old woman died of an ecstasy overdose after a California festival in 2014.
It’s easy to point out that drugs and concerts have been connected since the Woodstock era. But the potent nature of modern drugs can translate to major concern for parents of teenagers looking to attend these festivals. Here’s a look at the dangerous ties between concerts and drugs.
What drugs are being used
A study on drugabuse.com examined 2015 Instagram posts “to see which drugs are a part of the social conversation at music festivals.” The site acknowledges social media activity isn’t necessarily directly connected to actual drug use, but the site aimed “to get a glimpse into which substances and festivals were most popular as well as if specific drugs were favorites at certain events.”
Some of the results:
- The Electric Daisy Carnival, a traveling electronic music festival, had by far the most Instagram posts with drug references — 40,409. “Considering how many EDC-branded festivals occur each year, their lead in total posts is no surprise,” the site says. In second place was another electronic fest, Ultra, with 17,148.
- Alcohol is still the most-referenced substance (31,149 mentions), followed by MDMA/Molly/ecstasy (25,605), marijuana (9,705) and cocaine (4,779).
- Certain festivals bring specific references. The Marley Fest, for instance, led the marijuana list. The electronic festivals brought the most MDMA/Molly/ecstasy numbers. The Burning Man festival had the top percentage of LSD, mushroom and crack references.
The primary risk of this kind of activity is of course the dangerous drugs themselves. These substances can include highly lethal ingredients, and users may not be aware of what they are taking. Another element to consider is the environment itself, as the drugabuse.com story notes: “Because attendees are outside in direct sunlight for most of the day, overheating and dehydration can become a problem in addition to the other physiological effects created by substance use. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising to hear about a tragic loss of life due to drug use at music festivals.”
Why it’s smart to avoid these risks
Though some may be attracted to concert festivals for the drugs and alcohol, plenty are there to actually enjoy the music. The teenage years are typically when we first really fall in love with music, and live performances can provide memorable experiences. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens offers these reasons to stay away from drugs and alcohol at these events.
Keep the memories: “Summer music festivals are an amazing way to see your favorite artists, discover new bands, and meet new people. Drugs can cause memory loss and alter your perception of events.”
Clear thinking, good decisions: “When you’re around thousands of strangers, you want your mind to be clear and focused so you can stick with friends and stay safe.”
Side effects: “[Drugs] can raise your heart rate, make you dizzy, make you sweat or give you chills, and cause other side effects. In a hot, crowded environment, you want to feel your best.”
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