Music Festivals and Drug Abuse
For much of history, music has been an integral part of societies and cultures. Thanks to advancements in technology, music is more diverse now than it’s ever been. There are more artists, more content to consume, and far easier ways to get a hold of your new favorite song than there were a few decades ago.
During the late 20th century, the popularity of music festivals skyrocketed, starting a wave of massive festival events all over the U.S. Unfortunately, with the rise of these social music gatherings came the rise of recreational drug usage at said gatherings. Now there are millions of people attending hundreds of festivals every year in the U.S. alone. A majority of those festival-goers will overindulge in alcohol or engage in recreational drug abuse. Some will be introduced to stronger, more dangerous drugs for the first time since two of the most common substances abused at festivals (after alcohol and marijuana) are methamphetamines and opiates. As it happens, people tend to follow the example of those around them, so seeing others having the time of their lives at these parties can make even the healthiest of music lovers experiment with substance abuse.
According to Detox.net, Coachella, Marley Fest, Burning Man, and Electric Daisy Carnival are the music festivals that have the most prevalent alcohol and drug usage, but every festival they analyzed had some degree of substance abuse linked to it. Most music festivals don’t even condone drug usage at their events, but people still manage to smuggle them past the ticket booths.
Can Music Festival Culture Lead to Drug Addictions?
Any first-time interaction with substance abuse can be the beginning of an addiction, but music festivals have a few qualities that make them particularly nasty breeding grounds for new addicts and overdoses.
The Party Just Keeps Going
The significant drop in judgment and rationalization when you’re under the influence is only amplified by the sensory-overload of the festival. A first-time drug user might not even realize that they are reaching their limit or that they’re feeling unwell until it’s too late. Any number of tragedies, injuries, and side effects can result from being impaired in this situation and getting medical help amidst the chaos is a lot harder if you and all your friends are too high to really function.
There Are So Many People
Strangers will probably just assume you’re having a good time or decide you aren’t their problem if you start stumbling around the festival grounds. It can be extremely difficult to navigate large crowds when you’re sober, but it’s especially challenging if you’re trying to get yourself to a medic tent or someone who can help if you can’t even walk straight.
Many drug users don’t just abuse their substance of choice, they’ll also consume copious amounts of alcohol alongside it. The same can be said for alcoholics. Many casual drinkers mix alcohol and cigarettes, but alcohol and opiates is a whole other ball game. If you weren’t struggling to think straight on drugs alone, adding alcohol to the mix certainly won’t help you keep your cool.
Drug abuse culture has been a part of the music industry for quite some time. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to avoid pop culture’s glamorization of drug and alcohol abuse. Many popular artists are known or suspected addicts as well, making substance abuse seem socially acceptable.
With more people, especially younger festival and concert goers, thinking that drug and alcohol abuse is “the thing to do” at these events, even teens could end up leaving with a drug addiction or spend a few nights in the nearest hospital after a nasty overdose. And that’s the best case scenario.
Recovering Addicts Take Care
Even if you didn’t partake in substance abuse at festivals prior to your recovery, you should make sure you’re prepared to do whatever is necessary to stay clean. You might be offered drugs by passersby or exposed to them in other ways. There could be “Free Drink” signs all over the commons area.
It might be harder to ignore or turn down those opportunities than you’d think, but you can do it. Bring water bottles with you if the festival you’re attending allows outside food and drinks, or immediately go purchase water and some snacks to keep you hydrated and busy between performances.
Speak with your counselor about other ways you can prepare yourself so you can have a positive festival experience worth remembering.