What Are the Most Popular Drugs Used at Music Festivals?

Drug use is rampant at music festivals due to the carefree atmosphere and the availability of drugs. Many people view drug use as a part of the festival experience and feel that it enhances the music and the overall atmosphere. The overall atmosphere of festivals can make it difficult to “dance safe.”

However, drug use can also lead to negative consequences, such as bad trips, overdoses, and arrests. According to the National Institute on Drug Use, drug use can also trigger or worsen mental health disorders. As a result, individuals need to be aware of the risks associated with drug use before they choose to use drugs at a music festival. Health care is not and should not be top-of-mind when attending a music festival but drug use makes future health care issues a problem.

Popular Drugs Used At Festivals

According to a Drugabuse.com study of 976 people in the United States, 53% of those attending live music events admitted to using illicit drugs or alcohol, with more than 93% consuming alcoholic beverages. Additionally, about 40% of festival goers used marijuana at live music events, followed by 8% who each used hallucinogens or MDMA.

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Here are some of the most popular drugs used at music festivals:

Each of these drugs produces different effects, depending on the individual's physiology, the dose taken, and the person's state of mind. While some people may enjoy the effects of these drugs, others may find them uncomfortable or frightening. Keep in mind that each person reacts differently to drugs, so it is important to be cautious when taking any substance.

Most Intoxicated Live Music Event Genres

The study by drugabuse.com also found that festival goers abused drugs or alcohol more in some music event genres than in others.

In the study, EDM, heavy metal, and alternative music events had the highest percentage of people who drank alcohol or used drugs, with 67.5%, 52.2%, and 60.6%, respectively. Indie rock and reggae were also found to be relatively high on the list, with 60.2% and 60.0% of respondents saying they had used alcohol or drugs in the events. Classical and Rock music events had the lowest, with 39.8% and 39.6%.

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Consumption at Concerts

Here is a quick look at consumption at concerts per substance, according to Drugabuse.com

Popular Substance at EventsPrevalence in Music EventsPercentage
AlcoholAlternateHeavy MetalEDM  57.6%56.2%54.9%
MarijuanaReggaeHip-Hop/RapEDM33.3%29.6%29.3%
MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)EDMReggaeIndie Rock25.6%4.8%3.0%
HallucinogensEDMIndie RockHeavy Metal9.8%4.8%3.8%
CocaineEDMHip-Hop/RapBlues8.5%3.3%2.9%
OpioidsHip-Hop/RapEDMReggae2.6%2.4%2.4%

Why Do People Use Drugs at Festivals?

While the use of drugs is certainly not limited to festivals, several factors can contribute to drug use at these events.

Anonymity

The anonymous and often crowded nature of festivals can make it easier for people to buy and use drugs without being detected.

Availability of Drugs

The availability of drugs at festivals is usually higher than at other events, as dealers know that there will be a demand for their products. Besides, things like alcohol are often heavily promoted in such events since manufacturers usually sponsor.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is often a factor, as people feel pressured to conform to the behaviors of those around them.

Just for Fun

Many people use drugs as a way to let loose and have fun. The relaxed atmosphere of a festival can make it seem like an ideal time to try new things. Others use drugs to try to stay awake and not miss out.

Enhance the Experience

For some people, taking drugs is also a way to enhance their music experience. Certain substances can cause colors and sounds to seem more intense, leading to a more immersive and enjoyable experience.

Makes Sharing Space Easier

Drug use can make sharing space with large groups of people easier. In crowded environments, drugs can help to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of social connectedness.

Some people also use drugs to self-medicate, relieving anxiety or boredom. However, it is important to remember that drug use comes with risks. Overdosing or mixing drugs can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Dangers of Using Drugs at Music Festivals

Drug use is common at these events and can lead to serious side effects. Ecstasy, for example, can cause dehydration, overheating, and heart problems. Club drugs like ketamine and GHB can cause vomiting, hallucinations, and blackouts. And marijuana use can impair your judgment and coordination.

There's also a risk of combining drugs in dangerous ways. For example, one might drink alcohol to quench the thirst from ecstasy use. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, such mixing masks the impact of ecstasy and can lead to accidental overdose and death.

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There are also increasing cases of drugs being cut with other substances, which can make them more potent and dangerous. For example, cocaine may be cut with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be deadly even in small amounts. MDMA may be cut with n-ethylpentylone, a psychoactive drug linked to adverse effects such as anxiety and paranoia.

In addition, drugs like MDMA can cause dehydration and overheating, which can be dangerous in a crowded and chaotic environment like a music festival. Because of the drug-related harm involved, it is important to be aware of the dangers of using drugs at music festivals and ensure that you stay safe if you attend one of these events.

Ways to Stay Safe At Music Festivals

If you choose to use drugs at a music festival, you can utilize some harm reduction approaches to reduce the risks.

How to Attend a Music Concert Without Participating in the Substance Use Culture

Just because substance abuse is common at music festivals doesn't mean you have to participate. There are plenty of ways to enjoy these events without using drugs or alcohol. You can choose to attend smaller, local events that may be less likely to involve drug use. Alternatively, you can look for festivals that focus on specific genres of music, such as jazz or folk, which tend to attract a more mature crowd.

You can also take steps to create a drug-free environment at a festival. If you're camping, for example, you can choose to stay in a designated sober camping area. And if you see someone who looks like they're struggling, don't be afraid to reach out and offer help.

Music festivals can be a great way to enjoy your favorite artists and explore new genres of music. But it's important to be aware of the risks of drug use at these events. By being informed and taking precautions, you can stay safe and have a great time without putting yourself, and public health at risk.

Stuck In A Loop: When Hallucinogens Cause Cyclical Behavior or HPPD

There are instances when individuals who abuse hallucinogenic drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (also called magic mushroom), and LSD experience the effects several weeks, months, and even years after abusing the drug. These effects are commonly referred to as flashbacks and are prevalent in people suffering from HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder).

This article will discuss HPPD in detail. We will look at what HPPD is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is HPPD?

Simply put, HPPD refers to the visual disturbances that hallucinogenic drug users experience long after using the drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, visual disturbances range from bright circles and size distortion to blurry patterns.

People suffering from HPPD only experience flashbacks. They do not re-experience any other feeling of being high on the drugs they consumed before.

HPPD flashbacks are annoying, especially if they happen frequently. Although the flashbacks aren’t necessarily full hallucinations, they may result in mental health problems like anxiety.

Scientists argue that HPPD hallucinations are pseudo hallucinations, and those who experience them can differentiate what is real from what isn’t.

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What do flashbacks feel like?

People who experience flashbacks feel like they are reliving something they experienced in the past. Some flashbacks happen after drug use, while others happen after one undergoes a traumatic experience, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Both people with HPPD and PTSD experience moments when their sensory information tells them they are experiencing moments they experienced in the past, even though they aren’t.

With PTSD, the flashbacks are more vivid. On the other hand, flashbacks of those with HPPD are not in-depth. HPPD victims only experience visual snows.

If you suffer from HPPD, you will be aware of the flashbacks but won’t experience the high that the drugs you used before gave you. Note that these flashbacks may become frequent over time and can overwhelm you.

Symptoms

The 2016 review revealed that there are two types of HPPD; type one and type 2. Those who suffer from type 1 HPPD only experience brief flashbacks, while those that suffer from type 2 HPPD experience more intense flashbacks.

If you suffer from unwanted hallucinations or cyclical behaviors, you are likely to experience any of the following visual disturbance symptoms of HPPD.

  1. Color flashes- you may notice random flashes of color at random times.
  2. Intense colors- the colors of objects around you seem brighter.
  3. Color confusion- you may be unable to tell the difference between similar colors. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell maroon and red apart.
  4. When you stare at objects, you see a glowing halo around them.
  5. Objects may appear bigger or smaller than they are.
  6. You may notice patterns on various objects when in reality, the object does not have any patterns on it.
  7. Items or objects may appear to leave a trail behind them as they move.
  8. You may have a difficult time reading since words on screens or pages appear to be in motion.
  9. You may feel uneasy every time you have an episode since you know that what you are experiencing is not real.

Currently, there is no scientific explanation of when these symptoms manifest. Therefore they can happen to you at any time.

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People experiencing HPPD may also experience mental health issues, including anxiety, panic disorders whose common symptom is increased heart rate and heavy breathing, suicidal thoughts, and symptoms of depersonalization. Despite most people suffering from the disorder acknowledging that they experience these symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not acknowledge them as possible symptoms. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders only acknowledges the visual disturbances symptoms we discussed above because it is still unclear whether HPPD directly causes mental health issues.

HPPD causes

Scientists believe that individuals who consume hallucinogenic drugs recreationally are at a high risk of suffering from HPPD. However, they are yet to conclude on the frequency of drug use that causes HPPD.

A recent study revealed that HPPD is common in people who consume more than one dose of LSD. It is also prevalent in people who use other hallucinogens on one occasion or more.

Contrary to common belief, HPPD is not a result of mental disorders or brain damage. It is also not a result of a “bad trip.” This is caused by hallucinogenic drugs and is more often than not, one of the many effects of LSD abuse.

HPPD management and treatment

If you experience any of the symptoms we discussed above, you should visit your doctor. They will ask you several questions before giving you a full diagnosis.

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After being diagnosed with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you need to learn how to manage and treat it. Currently, two drugs have proved to be effective in HPPD treatment: lamotrigine and clonazepam.

Lamotrigine

Lamotrigine is a mood-stabilizing medication that is effective in relieving individuals of HPPD symptoms. A case study showed that lamotrigine is effective in the treatment of HPPD. Unlike other medications like antipsychotics, it did not make any symptoms worse.

Clonazepam

Like lamotrigine, clonazepam is effective in treating this disorder. It makes the symptoms less severe and more manageable.

To manage these symptoms, doctors also advise individuals to avoid stressful situations and illicit drugs. Additionally, doctors may give patients a few techniques to cope with the symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to use calming breathing exercises every time you have an episode. They may also prescribe rest and talk therapy.

Note that there is no single treatment for HPPD. You will undergo drug therapy. Drug therapy varies with individuals depending on the difference in visual disturbances symptoms.

Most times, drug therapy is successful, and individuals lead everyday lives after that.

Conclusion

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a serious condition. Anyone who uses hallucinogens can eventually develop this disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may eventually fade away. However, there are instances when the symptoms will persist for an extended time.

It would be best to seek professional help if you notice any of the symptoms above. Your doctor may prescribe drug therapy to treat the condition and other techniques to manage the symptoms and make them more bearable.