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Summer Music Festivals and Drug Use

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Summer music festivals are known for their high levels of drug use, which pose dangers not only to those who are choosing to use drugs but to others as well. If you’re planning to attend a music festival this summer, it’s important to understand that there are serious risks and harm associated with drug use, even at events where this activity is considered normal or popular. Here’s everything you need to know to protect yourself from the dangers of music festival drug use:

Common Music Festival Drugs

First, it’s helpful to be aware of drugs that are commonly used at musical festivals. Some of these drugs include:

  • MDMA
  • LSD
  • Ketamine
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opioids

Music festival drug use, as well as purchasing and selling drugs, is not only common, but a draw for a portion of people attending. It is important to note that there’s no way to know whether the drugs being sold are what you think they are, rather than something more dangerous. Most illicit drugs contain other drugs, such as opioids, or harmful substances such as bath salts, that can result in life-altering medical conditions, complications, and even death.

Summer Music Festival Drug Use Risks

Here are some of the risks posed by summer music festival drug use:


High outdoor temperatures, combined with the effects of certain drugs, can cause hyperthermia, or extremely high body temperature. If it’s not properly treated, hyperthermia can result in long-term health issues, such as kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure, and, in extreme cases, death.


Some drugs, such as MDMA, are commonly known for increasing your risk of dehydration. These drugs combined with the high summer temperatures can be a dangerous combination, especially when your judgment is altered by drugs and you are unable to respond to your body’s needs.

Kidney Failure

The use of some common music festival drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine, and others, can result in kidney failure, a dangerous condition that can lead to the need for kidney transplants, dialysis, and even premature death.


Because drugs alter your state of mind and cloud your judgment, leaving you in a vulnerable position, your risks of being assaulted are higher, especially at an event where other people are also under the influence of drugs. Studies show that drugs such as MDMA increase your risk of sexual assault due to side effects such as visual and auditory hallucinations, altered judgment, etc.

Fake Drugs

Another risk of using drugs that you purchase at summer music festivals is that you can’t verify what drugs you are purchasing. While you may believe that the drugs you are purchasing are one type of drug, they may in fact be a substance that is much more harmful.

Other Side Effects

In addition to these risks, many drugs also have significant side effects associated with them. Some examples include seizures, tremors, rapid heartbeat, nausea, extreme paranoia, impaired mental capacity, and more.

How to Help Someone Who Has Overdosed

If someone around you is suffering the effects of a drug overdose, here are some tips that can help you know what to do:

  • Don’t wait to act: In the event of an overdose, a quick response is essential. Immediately call for help so the person can receive the needed medical care.
  • Use Narcan: If you or someone nearby has Narcan with them, administer it immediately. Narcan can reverse the effects of opioids and some other drugs. While there are many drugs it can’t treat, if you believe the person who has overdosed has taken opioids, Narcan can save their life.

Finally, if you or someone you know is struggling with substance use issues, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many resources can provide support and relief. At Arlington County’s Encore Outpatient Services, we offer various treatment options to help you overcome your substance use disorder. Reach out to us today to book an appointment with one of our specialists and start your path to recovery.

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