Tips for Staying Safe at Festivals & Events
Adapted from 10 Commandments for Safer Drug Use from Dominic Milton Trott’s The Honest Drug Book.
Know what you’re taking – Do your research about the drugs you will be taking. Make sure you understand dosage, effects and how long it should take to feel the effects. Try to avoid buying drugs at festivals. Drugs sold at festivals are often not what they are sold as, are of poor quality or adulterated with other substances. Although it might be tempting, a festival is not the best place to try a new substance for the first time, stick with what you know.
Dosage is critical – Properly and rationally consider the dose. Have regard for your circumstance, and all the information you have accumulated about the drug. If you are in a social setting, do not succumb to peer-pressure.
Always remember that you can take more if you need to, but you cannot un-take what you have already taken.
If this is the first time you have used this drug, you are introducing a new chemical into your body and you do not know how it will react. A low dose will usually reduce the risks to your personal safety and psychological wellbeing, including the prospect of having an overdose or a bad experience.
Start Low and Go Slow – Always take a test does and wait at least 2 hours before taking more.
Test your drugs if possible – Reagent tests can be used to reduce the risks of drugs that have been mis-sold or are adulterated, however, only lab grade equipment can give an accurate measure of strength/purity, so beware. Find out if the event has an onsite drug testing facility like those provided by The Loop.
If you are not able to test your drugs take a very small test dose first, this should alert you to any potential allergic or adverse reaction and should also help to verify that you haven’t acquired something significantly more potent than you intended.
Avoid mixing substances – Mixing substances can have unpredictable effects and puts more strain on your body. Some combinations can be potentially lethal, e.g. alcohol and ketamine. Also, some medications can interact dangerously with some controlled drugs. If you do decide to combine drugs check out Tripsit’s drug combination chart.
Ask yourself if you are feeling okay – It is a serious question. If you are unwell, sick, or in poor health, these conditions may be amplified during the experience, or may have serious implications with respect to body load. This also applies to mental health. Some drugs can intensify whatever mood, feeling or psychological space you are experiencing at present. They may take you higher or lower, in terms of your current mental state, and hold you there. This can extend for uncomfortable periods with respect to the latter. If in any doubt, you shouldn’t proceed.
Plan the experience, and its parameters, so that you don’t take rash decisions under the influence. Having taken whatever dose you have chosen, be patient, and don’t jump to the conclusion that it didn’t work, should onset not materialise. A common mistake is to double-dose, which can have dire consequences. Equally, unless you actually intend to redose at the outset, it is suggested that the rest of the material is placed out of immediate reach. If redosing is intended, perhaps place a maximum cap on this by having only a pre-determined total amount available to you. Don’t try to keep up with your mates, you may not have the same tolerance levels as them. Write down what drugs you’re using and place the note in a prominent place on your person. In the worst scenario, this may assist the emergency services.
Give yourself time to recover – if you’ve overdone it drink plenty of fluids, eat well and get some rest. Bear in mind that sleep deprivation alone can cause hallucinations, so when you’re adding drugs and alcohol to the equation the effects can be very unpredictable. Lack of sleep can amplify the negative effects (anxiety, paranoia, etc.) of some drugs.
Keep hydrated & eat well – If it’s hot and/or if you’re dancing you can dehydrate quickly, alcohol and stimulant drugs increase the rate of dehydration. Keep a water bottle on you and fill it up every time you pass a water point – and make sure you have a good supply back at your tent. Take regular sips of water but don’t overdo it (around a pint an hour is a good guide).
Food lines your stomach which reduces the irritation caused by alcohol & ingested substances. It slows the uptake of alcohol into your bloodstream and helps you to top up the salt and minerals your body loses while drinking alcohol.
Look after your mates and fellow revellers – Make sure you and your mates know what to do in a drug/alcohol related emergency. If something happens to one of your friends do not hesitate to call for assistance, speak to the nearest steward, security guard or anyone with a radio. If a friend has passed out from drink or drugs do not leave them unattended.
If you see someone else that looks to be having a difficult time, ask if they’re ok. Offer to walk them to welfare. If they refuse help but you’re worried about them, alert security or a steward.
Familiarise yourself with the medical and welfare teams – and feel confident about using them.