Overdose at music festivals has gotten increasingly worse over the years, particularly in the rave and electronic dance music (EDM) communities. For the past decade, the headlines have been more and more populated with young people dying or coming close to death after taking drugs that they claim “enhance their experience” at these events. In Australia, where the problem has become particularly difficult to ignore, more and more members of the rave community are mobilizing to support pill-testing at these festivals, and claim they would heed the results.
A measure that has been heavily supported by drug reform advocates in the region, nearly 90 percent of participants in a recent study said they would use pill-testing, if it were available, before taking illicit drugs. Testing would provide the infrastructure and insight needed to let addicts know what they’re taking before they take it, a welcome asset to a community that often overdoses because they took a substance different than they what they thought they were taking. Many of these drugs are laced with toxic ingredients like rat poison and others.
It’s hard to ignore the logic behind this measure; however, it’s equally hard for many to ignore the signal it sends to current and potential drug users. In a global landscape that is facing more dangerous and more diverse drug threats, many believe the best course of action is trying to mitigate the risk of overdose rather than focusing on enforcement and prosecution. While the measure is being proposed in Australia, a similar mindset is alive and well in many areas if the United States. In Philadelphia, for example, high-level officials and various other stakeholders are lobbying for supervised injection centers to help addicts use in a clean and medically supervised environment. These centers would provide clean needles, medical personnel and a sterile environment that proponents say would reduce the risk of fatal overdose while providing links to treatment options.
Many of us in the music community have seen our closest friends and loved ones fall victim to drugs, whether it’s overdose at music festivals or elsewhere. The idea of legalized testing at music festivals underscores a larger overall conflicting philosophy of management and control versus prohibition and enforcement. For our own part, Face the Music Foundation supports effective and compassionate treatment for all those suffering from substance use disorder by any means. We’re ready to guide you or your loved one toward recovery, peace of mind and a better tomorrow. Don’t become another overdose statistic.