Drugs at Festivals 💊 Are YOU doing them?
As festival season lands and the hot weather descends, it can be easy to throw 3 sheets to the wind (is that even the saying?) and go all out when it comes to taking drugs....but are you clued up enough?
With the cost of living crisis mixed in a cocktail of Brexit, the Panny D with a little mix of poor mental health across the country it can be super easy to overdo the vices at festivals if you're not careful. With the rise in popularity of drugs like 2CB, mushrooms (the psilocybin kind) and the resurgence of the ol' party classic MDMA it's hard to know wa gwaan sometimes?
I ain't 'ere to be your Dad, we're a judgement free zone....do what you want. But just make sure you're careful where possible.
I interviewed as many people as I could in a day who would voluntarily share their experiences. We wanted to know what your worst and best experiences were as well as what your drug of choice was. Some wanted to remain anon for obvious reasons....mum might be thinking about taking a pill too and reading this, only to see her daughter here too....disaster.
Drug of choice: 'I used to love MDMA but that makes me sick now. Acid is my new favourite for festivals'
When did you take your first drug: 'I was 21 at Aeon festival'
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: 'Yes'
Do you ever get them tested: 'I don't get them tested. I would if it was offered though. I wish they'd offered that at festivals when I was younger as I think it's much safer to know what you're ingesting'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'Taking Acid at boomtown and going for a wander alone to try and find someone I'd meet on the first day of the festival. I spent most of the day exploring the different districts alone. I ended up following a chap dressed as a white rabbit who led me to a hilltop at sunset, where I spotted the guy I'd been looking for, who had also been searching the festival for me! We both ran over to each other and were super happy to be reunited by a rabbit! We then spent the evening exploring the festival together whilst tripping and laughing at everything, honestly I've never laughed so much! It was a really special time'
Worst experience on drugs: 'Taking MDMA at a festival, then feeling sick for the rest of the night, and being unable to dance and just wanting to lay down
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'Make sure you take anything for the first time with hood friends around you, tell them what you're taking. Keep hydrated! Be careful of what you mix with alcohol. Don't be greedy with your dosage, and be patient if you don't feel effects quickly before taking more'
Final thoughts: I think drugs should be legalised in this country, as making them illegal creates more danger to those who access them. I also think addiction should be treated as illness, not punished.
Drug of choice: 'Ketamine / cocaine / ecstasy pills'
When did you take your first drug: 'I took my first drug aged 17 I was in Ibiza at dc-10 circoloco'
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: 'I do regularly take drugs at all festivals'
Do you ever get them tested: 'I’ve never actually had my drugs tested however I would love to, although I’d be quite nervous for the results'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'Taking my first ever pill, I could feel it coming up from my feet all the way through my body, the feeling was like no other, I felt high on life and I could get lost in the music like I’ve never been before...'
Worst experience on drugs: 'I've only really ever had 2 bad experiences, 1 being from a pill .. it made me sweat very obviously from my face, dripping down - I felt sooo sick I was very scared! However after it kicked it carried back on'
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'The advice I would give is definitely take it slow, if you’re going to try a pill make Damn sure you 100% know of others trying it prior and always take half! You can go back for your other half then 🤪
Name: Cee (Not actually Cench)
Drug of choice: 'Weed on a normal one, Coke & Ket mix (I.e. a Calvin Klein) for partying'
When did you take your first drug: '16 at Reading Fest'
Do you ever get them tested: 'I do not get them tested but have considered this to be very useful'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'My very first time doing MDMA I wasn’t sure when/if it would kick in so I kinda just got on with my day at the festival. I walked to my tent with pals to grab something before going to the main stage. I had zero idea what MDMA would feel like but I reached into my tent to grab something, when I crawled back out I saw the sun setting and was hit with the most wildly euphoric but also just immensely content feeling (I’ve never felt like that since) I just started giggling on the floor as I couldn’t explain and it was like without saying anything all my friends understood what I felt and we had a massive hug and then a great boogie after that'
Worst experience on drugs: 'On 2 occasions at separate festivals, I have been soo waved off either Ket or mdma that my inhibitions were lowered and I thought it would be okay to follow some guys to their tent/after party, bcuz they looked so friendly and fun, right? Once the drugs wear off you realise how uncomfortable & vulnerable you feel but by this point it was too late as I’d already been separated from friends, was in an unknown area and completely at the mercy of these much older fellas. You also feel like it’s your fault since you willingly danced away with them, it’s not like they kidnapped you so u feel helpless and embarrassed.
Doesn’t take a genius to work out the sexual harassment and assault that took place - needless to say, there was certainly no after party. On the first occasion I managed to bump into a police officer on festival grounds who took my complaints very serious despite me being very waved, officer helped me with absolutely zero judgement and made sure the guys didn’t come near me again. The 2nd time my friends came looking for me whilst I was looking for them and we bumped into each other and they proper looked out for me. That’s when we vowed to never leave each other when we are on nights out (mind you we were in our mid teens at this point so all this stuff wasn’t quite common knowledge for us yet).
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'I’d say have fun, festivals are a fun (usually) safe space to let loose in the way you dress, dance, and party. However test your drugs and be very clued up on the dark sides because they literally do happen to anyone. Drugs can make weird people so weird things and you being clearly fucked up off drugs may also make you a target to these weird people so just always make sure you’re around people who make you feel safe and have a plan for if things go wrong (e.g. a space to meet if u get lost, always know where your tent is and always keep with at least one friend)
Final thoughts: 'Have fun but be cautious. Not everyone is as nice as you and your pals'
Drug of choice: Shrooms/LSD
When did you take your first drug: '21 at Outlook Festival'
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: 'Yes I actually only do them at festivals now'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'Great experience on LSD, involved a super fluffy red carpet, somehow heard psychedelic rock playing even though the DJ was playing psytrance, felt like I was back in the 70’s in Jimmy Hendrix’s living room and suddenly understood all of 1970’s interior design aesthetic (lava lamps?!?!?) - very classic LSD stuff haha'
Worst experience on drugs: 'Got super paranoid on MD one time - I had taken too much in a Scandinavian summer festival, and thought they were all talking about me as I didn’t understand the language (I’ve not seen midsommar but it was that kind of vibe)
Final thoughts: 'Just to mention I am French but live in England; and we have a different view on drugs, I do feel like here people take them veeeery young and that I definitely super bad for brains - I would advise anyone to wait until they are 25 to take anything mind altering and to really inform themselves on the effects and potential risks 😊 It can be a great, even life changing experience if done well 🍄💎'
Drug of choice: Shrooms/MDMA/bit of Coke
When did you take your first drug: Properly, 22 Pills in Ibiza
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: 'Yeaaah it's my judgement free zone to do what you want for the time you're there as long as you hydrate and get some good nutrition in'
Do you ever get them tested: 'Nah, but I know I should. Defo would if it was widely available'
Most magic experience on drugs: Ooooof, first Pill in Space, Ibiza. Fell in love with a girl then and there. Fell in love with a deeper realm of life. Felt everything harder after that. There was definitely a layer stripped back of the ego.
Worst experience on drugs: 'Ironically with a 'legal high' on a camping trip. Everyone turned blue, couldn't stop throwing up. Legs turned to stone. Mad. Woke up high as hell in the middle of the night though'
Get a bit rushy/anxious with coke sometimes I guess'
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'You can always take more, you can't take back what you've taken. take it slow'
Final thoughts: I like dialect around drugs, we don't have enough. We widely accept drinking until we pass out but society looks down on drugs?
When we bury our heads in the sand about ANYTHING it will come back to bite us in the arse. Open conversation surrounding them.
Drug of choice: 2CB/Ketamine
When did you take your first drug: '18 - at motion in Bristol and basically every event / festival I’ve been too since then'
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: Oh yeh
Do you ever get them tested: 'I have never taken my drugs to a testing tent at festivals however I do have my own test kits that I’ll use particularly if I’ve got them from someone new or the substance looks off'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'I can’t even explain the utopia you feel when the drugs hit, they make your visuals 100% more impressive (bolder colours of lasers, stages moving and flowing) you are listening to your fave music & surrounded by your friends. In that moment you feel like life is just SO amazing everything you are seeing and hearing is just giving of 10/10 vibes & you in yourself are feeling so floaty and happy'
Worst experience on drugs: 'Personally I’ve been lucky (or educated?) enough to not have ever had a bad experience on drugs or known anyone in my immediate circle to either. I have seen some people in bad ways at festivals which can sometimes throw your mood and feelings off but I’ve never experienced it myself.
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'Make sure you have researched how to take the drug safely, you know the recommended dosage and you are aware so the side effects (positive & negative) so you know what to expect.
You needed surrounded by a good bunch of people who also are aware of the side effects of what you are taking. People you can rely on that will help you if it goes bad and not laugh at you or leave you.
If you feel like you need to take drugs to improve your mental health or make you happy, maybe think about not. Drugs can improve and boost your mood and feeling of happiness but they shouldn’t be relied on to change your mood. If you are feeling down or have dark thoughts in your heart drugs can amplify those feelings and not the happy ones🏻'
Final thoughts: 'The more we ‘normalise’ conversations around drugs the less drug related incidents there would be.
Drug of choice: 'Mixed of ket and coke - CK1; it’s now our fave at a festival! Also love MD/pills but enjoy them so much more at festivals'
When did you take your first drug: MDMA, Parklife
Do you regularly do drugs at festivals: 'Yes always - for me it’s part of the experience!'
Do you ever get them tested: 'Never have, would consider it although sometimes think ignorance is bliss. But I recognise that’s probably quite a silly thought process and it only takes one bad batch for your life to be in danger'
Most magic experience on drugs: 'Did acid for the first time at Glasto last year; spent about an hour sat in a circle with my friends all putting lipgloss on and thinking it was the funniest/most magical thing to be doing. The videos still make me cry with laughter!
Worst experience on drugs: 'Did a classic a thought 2CB hadn’t worked, so took more. Night ended with me crying into a pair of crocs asking to go home 😂 I looked like I was having a Britney breakdown circa 00’s
Advice you'd give someone thinking about taking something for the first time: 'Make sure your people are with you'
Final thoughts: 'Legalise drugs!'
Before you Go
It's important to know that nobody we spoke to is an expert, these are just personal honest stories. I am going to like some super important info below. Be safe, hydrate, have fun, but tell someone if you're planning to take any drugs at your festivals so someone is aware!
Tips to stay safe
Pace yourself – if you drink or take drugs, go slow - it's important to take it easy and to know your level
Avoid getting too intoxicated in places that are unfamiliar or around people you don’t know. Even if you’re an experienced festival goer, it’s still easy to lose control, make risky decisions and be less aware of any potential unsafe situations
Alcohol and other drugs can alter how you make decisions - you should never feel pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable with.
If you find you’re having not quite as good a time as you expected but don’t feel you need medical attention, you can visit the welfare team. Most festivals have a team of people who are there to check on your welfare. Find out where welfare is located when you arrive on site so you know where to go if you start to feel a bit strange or just want somebody to talk to.
If you or someone you are with becomes unconscious or unresponsive, put them on their side in the recovery position and find immediate medical attention by alerting a steward or member of event staff.
You should always be honest with any doctor, nurse, paramedic or welfare team about what you have taken so they know how best to help you.
The Loop is currently developing drug checking services. We work with a number of partners, including public health, the Home Office, police, drug treatment providers and the events industry when delivering our services.
Drug checking has a number of proven benefits:
To identify trends in illicit drug markets and drug use;
To identify substances of concern that may put users at a greater level of risk;
To identify the contents of substances that are already a cause for concern, for example, already leading to people seeking medical attention;
To provide information to those treating drug-related incidents, so that medical and support services can provide prompt, informed and targeted treatment;
To link harm reduction advice directly with chemical analysis of substances of concern currently in circulation in local drug markets, which research shows to be more effective;
To reach hidden and hard-to-reach populations who otherwise do not engage with existing substance misuse services;
To provide information that can be distributed via media, social media, early warning systems and other channels relating to particular substances, in consultation with stakeholders, to reduce drug-related harm and to minimise the possibility of a major public safety incident.