Deaths related to MDMA (ecstasy) misuse in England and Wales are at their highest since 1993, and ecstasy at music festivals is partly responsible.
About 92 people suffered an ecstasy-related death in 2018, and there’s fear that the number will continue to increase. Among those, 18-year-old Georgia Jones, and 20-year-old Tommy Cowan both suffered fatal accidents after separately ingesting MDMA pills at Mutiny Music Festival back in 2018. Another 15 attendees were taken to nearby hospitals for “drug-related” symptoms.
The potency and purity of the drugs is something that have experts worried for both experienced users and first- timers. Janine Milburn, Georgia’s mother, has been an advocate for drug testing stations to be located inside music festivals. An organization called The Loop has setup pitstops in parts of the UK where they can figure out the potency and what kind of cocktail makes up the ecstasy you’re about to ingest. Most of the time the ingredients are unknown to the user and the dealer.
Janine says she believes Georgia’s death could have been prevented if her daughter had been aware of what made up the drugs she was taking. “People need truthful education about drug taking, like what to do when things go wrong.” She also touches on how high the numbers of fatal overdoses have reached, and how schools should host more practical information.
The Loop had reported warnings for the same pill from an earlier festival. They reported that each pill contained roughly 300mg of MDMA, making each life-threatening pill 3x a safe adult dose.
There’s a clear and unfortunate relationship between ecstasy and music festivals. “There’s no doubt in my mind that drugs and music go well together – and ecstasy in particular,” said Professor Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in addiction and mental health at the University of York, during an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat. “If there are more festivals on the go and more people going to them, the likelihood of using drugs like ecstasy also increases. As use increases, so do the risks.”
The concern about increasing death statistics is apparent as the number has increased in 2018, and there are warnings surrounding upcoming festivals.
Some recent warnings have been issued for pills containing more than 200mg of the chemical MDMA—which is a lot for an experienced user. “That’s something that would catch out an experienced user as well as a naïve one, so no one is protected or safe when those doses of ecstasy pills are around.”
Face the Music Foundation encourages everyone to enjoy music festivals responsibly.