Festivals and concerts would be a great time for live music, but some people use them as an excuse to do drugs. In fact, we hear about drug deaths and drug overdoses every year at concert festivals. Along with the injuries and arrests, it can turn an awesome time at a concert into a sad experience. Because the law prohibits drug-friendly concerts, many organizers of these events enforce a zero-tolerance policy. You do have some who turn a blind eye, but they get shut down eventually.
How to Reduce the Harm
One method that has become popular would be referred to as a harm reduction approach. This approach is based on the philosophy that one cannot completely control whether or not others will do dangerous and illegal things. Risky behaviors might include: binge drinking, drug use, and needle sharing. The undesirable outcomes can be HIV infection, drunk driving, and arrests. Those who support the harm reduction approach educate others on how to avoid unwanted outcomes. It has proven more effective, in some cases, than just telling someone that they should avoid doing the risky behaviors to begin with.
Current Harm Reduction Efforts
In recent years, many organizers of concerts have handed out drug-testing kits. It helps people who buy drugs to know what they will be receiving. Sometimes, what a buyer might see as MDMA could actually be synthetic cathinones, which can have as unpredictable of an outcome as bath salts. In a recent documentary, they found that people who bought MDMA actually bought bath salts. These drug testing kits are intended to minimize the potential harm which could come from a buyer using poisonous or unpredictable drugs under the impression they’re taking something else.
Can Harm Reduction Help You?
Not everyone believes in the harm reduction approach, and some think that concerts making drug use safer is downright ludicrous. They believe that it promotes drug use, rather than keeping it away altogether. While this may be true, as a fan and fellow concert-goer, the harm reduction approach may be your only course of action at times if you want to prevent unsafe behaviors. While we do not know if harm reduction programs have prevented deaths or overdoses, we also do not know if trying to keep people away from drugs altogether would work.
Case Study: Lightning in a Bottle
Most people visit concerts to have a good time. As a result, they might be prone to riskier behavior. At the Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival, the event planners took extra steps to protect partiers. They partnered with the harm-reduction company DanceSafe, and they educated people about the dangers of dehydration and heat stroke, which are the two key reasons that people die or become ill from MDMA.
While it may not stop drug use, the harm reduction approach offers a more compassionate approach. Harm reduction is not the answer, however, to the problem of drug abuse in festival and concert culture. Proven methods of treatment, like professional-supervised detox and group therapy, are best for those suffering from drug addiction. When in the middle of a concert, however, you can help minimize potential harm by providing the education others need to make safer, more informed decisions.