Reduce the harms at festivals
For many people festivals are the highlight of the summer. Here at Drugs.ie, we want your festival experience to be as safe as possible and one to remember for all the right reasons.
Not everyone will use substances at festivals and it is always safest not to use drugs at all. However, we know that drug use takes place across nightlife and festival settings and we want to raise awareness of the current risks and encourage people to reduce the harms.
Be in know about the current drug market
We are concerned about the current drug market including high strength MDMA (pills, powders/crystals), cocaine and ketamine. Higher strength drugs increase the risks, it may be easier to quickly overconsume.However, new substances have also been appearing in MDMA in the UK. We are also concerned about the risk of drugs known as synthetic cannabinoids appearing in cannabis products such as herbal, edible and vapes.
The HSE Safer Nightlife Programme and ‘Back of house’ drug checking 2023
This summer we will provide ‘back of house’ drug checking at a small number of events to help us monitor drug trends in circulation. This will work by people depositing drugs in HSE surrender bins so the HSE can conduct analysis and warn the festival if extra risky drugs are in circulation. Bins will be located in the Drugs.ie and medical tent at Life Festival, Body and Soul and Electric Picnic. Harm reduction teams will be available onsite to support this work. Find our volunteers on outreach in purple and pink high vis vests or in the Drugs.ie tent onsite.
Follow our Twitter and Instagram @drugsdot.ie for updates on drug trends, warnings and alerts.
We will review what other locations we may be at through the summer months.
How you can reduce the harms at festivals:
- Tell your friends if you decide to use drugs at the festival: Try to have one friend who doesn’t use and be with people you trust. Avoid using alone, stick together and make sure no one is left alone.
- Be in the know before you go: Follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts (Drugs.ie) for updates on drug trends, warnings and alerts. Our drug monitoring page will also be updated throughout the summer.
- Plan to take less: Your tolerance may have changed if you stopped using drugs for a while.
- Start low and go slow, take a small test dose. Pace yourself by taking a small amount and leaving time between use can help you identify how you are reacting to the substance. If you don’t react as expected avoid taking more
- Leave the mixing to the DJ: Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication. This can increase your risk of becoming unwell or experiencing a drug emergency. Remember, alcohol can increase the risks with all drugs. MDMA could interact negatively with some medications such as antidepressants. See our information on mixing drugs here.
- Keep cool and stay hydrated: Sip water but don’t drink over a pint an hour as drinking too much water can be dangerous and lead to a salt imbalance in your body. Take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
- Know the signs of drug emergency: Signs could be physical or mental. If in doubt, get it checked out. See our information on the signs of a drug emergency
- Medics are your mates:don’t be afraid to get help if you or a friend becomes unwell or feels suicidal after using drugs. Know the location of the medical tent at events and what you would do in case of an emergency. Be honest with medics about what was taken. Your wellbeing is their main priority. .
- This years festival resources were designed by Jacky Sheridan.
- Download our festival booklet here with harm reduction, information on drug trends and information on drug emergencies
- Poster files (zip file download) available here
Social media imagery
- 'Leave the mixing to the DJ' Facebook/Instagram and Twitter
- 'Medics are your mates' Facebook/Instagram and Twitter
- Start low and go slow', Facebook/Instagram and Twitter
- 'Keep cool and hydrate' Facebook/Instagram and Twitter
Get more information
- See our festival drug do's and don't here
- Get harm reduction about different drugs here
- See our update on the MDMA market
- See our update on synthetic cannabinoids
- At Electric Picnic in 2022, the HSE issued concern about the strength of MDMA products available on the market as well as the emergence of a new substance 3-CMC which is a 'synthetic cathinone'.See the results from the first drug monitoring pilot at Electric Picnic September 2022 here
For further information about the HSE Safer Nightlife Programme please contact Nicki Killeen, Emerging Drug Trends Project Manager, HSE National Social Inclusion Office.