From a mixture of medical knowledge, festival experience and some people’s lessons learned the hard way, here’s our advice:
The obvious one. It’s safer not to take drugs.Festivals are an unfamiliar and crowded environment and you’re probably miles away from home You don’t know what’s in the drugs or how much, how they might affect you or how they will mix with anything else you’ve taken or drunk. There’s a lot of potential for a seriously bad time. And remember - long-term effects are often completely unknown.
If you do decide to take something though, the emphasis must be on harm reduction…
Be prepared before you start. Eat to give your body fuel and line your stomach. Have some water (and maybe some paracetamol) back at the tent for the morning after and take a water bottle out to refill through the day.
Pace yourself!Don’t be the one who takes all their drugs on the first night and must go home or to hospital.
Take a small amount (e.g. half a pill, a small dab) first then wait a couple of hours before deciding whether to take more. Super strong? Just as well you didn’t take more to start with! Not doing anything? Don’t just keep piling on extra – it might all hit you at the same time and cause some real trouble. Beware the bottom of the bag – where the active drug may have collected.
Don’t mix drugs (including with alcohol). Mixing drugs makes you much more likely to end up in a bad state, from potentially fatal interactions to just reducing the effect of each other and wasting your money. Besides, you know what’s worse than a come-down? A come-down plus a hangover!
Look after yourself. Staying hydrated at a festival can be tougher than at home but that makes it even more important. Aim to drink a pint of water an hour – but not all in one go.
Look after each other.Keep an eye out for your mates and tell each other what you’ve taken just in case. Don’t take drugs alone. If someone doesn’t want to take something, don’t try and persuade them! If someone isn’t having a good time (or is having too much of a good time), make sure they’re alright. It might be frustrating but it’s better than things getting scary.
“Legal highs” are all now illegal and “legal” doesn’t mean safe or mild. Cheap doesn’t mean weak, pure doesn’t mean safe. What it says on the packet isn’t necessarily what is in the packet.Some of them used to be legal, some never were. Some don’t work, some are even more dangerous than the “traditional” illegal drugs. Mostly we don’t really know what’s in them and what effect they are likely to have.
Not all drugs are created equal.Some drugs like Ketamine and LSD can make you lose track of what’s happening around you. Maybe not the best option for this environment.
If things aren’t going well, help is available.If you’re having a bad time with drugs, try to remember that this feeling will pass and won’t last forever. Tell the people you’re with that you’re not feeling good. If you need a calm, safe and judgement-free place to cool down and recover then the people at the Welfare Tent can help. If you or a friend need medical help, speak to a member of staff or attend the Medical Tent. Tell medical staff what you or your friend have taken. Medical staff aren’t looking to get you into trouble, they just want to give you the best treatment.