Music festivals can encourage drug abuse

Music festivals, raves and EDM (electronic dance music) concerts have become increasingly popular throughout the recent years, with the use of drugs accompanying many of the so-called “ravers.” The misuse of these drugs, with the most common one known as MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), Molly or Ecstacy, can cause serious health complications and possibly lead to death when someone takes more than a usual dosage. 

According to the 2016 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, over 1 million people in the United States admitted to using MDMA regularly and some 37% of clubgoers admitted to having taken it at a club in 2016. The drug is typically taken in pill form and usually lasts 3 to 6 hours, with effects being decreased inhibition, increased energy, emotional changes and often boosts to the person’s self-esteem. The increased blood pressure and heart rate that comes with taking MDMA are highly concerning factors that can be very dangerous in large doses or for those with heart problems. 

Unfortunately, this danger became a reality for 15-year-old Jackson Gibbons when he took an overdose of Ecstasy at an under-18s rave in Bristol, United Kingdom. At the time of his death, Gibbons “had six times what would be considered a ‘safe’ level of the drug in his blood and was seen shaking violently and struggling to breathe,” according to a DailyMail report on the overdose. At first, he was losing his balance, his body was vibrating and he could not talk properly. With a history of defiance with his parents, he told his friend to not call and tell them what was going on because Gibbons didn’t want them to know where he was. 

Over the course of an hour, his reactions to the three strong pills became severe enough to make his friend, who was also on drugs and not thinking coherently, finally call an ambulance. 

Assistant Coroner Dr. Simon Fox recorded Gibbons’ cause of death as toxic effects of MDMA/Ecstasy. At such a young age, his death is a tragic story that could have been prevented and should never happen to anyone. These club drugs have not been shown to cause an actual chemical dependence in most users but do present other risks relating to anxiety, depression, paranoia and panic attacks. 

Although it’s not a crime to enjoy going to raves and EDM concerts, the risk of misusing these mind-altering substances at these events is something we should be looking out for and trying to avoid. Ingesting unknown substances into your body can be a risky game and you want to make sure you’re doing it in the right way. Be careful not to take more than what is considered “appropriate” for recreational use. 

Most deaths involving MDMA also typically involve other intoxicants like alcohol or cocaine, according to the Desert Hope American Addiction Centers Treatment Facility. Mixing these substances is never a good idea and will most likely end up with a bad outcome, and even be fatal. Avoiding these risk factors can help people safely enjoy the rave without worrying about what might go wrong. Checking in on friends and using the buddy system can be beneficial and ensure that everyone is safe.