Drugs Policy, Policing, Dangers and Safety:
As is the case across the rest of the UK; all illegal drugs including, Nos and Psychoactive Substances are not permitted in Boomtown.
Trying to enter the festival with drugs will result in refusal of entry, eviction or prosecution if you are caught doing so. Security measures, amnesty procedures and searches at the gates have increased to prevent any drugs from entering the festival.
However, even after all the security, policing and awareness measures we have in place, we have to acknowledge that drugs can still get into the festival and may be experimented with, sometimes to dangerous levels. The; ‘drugs are illegal, don’t do them’ policy hasn’t worked in general society, and it is no different for festivals.
At Chapter 9 (2017’s festival) we implemented a variety of harm reduction, welfare and educational strategies, which included the following:
- Pre-event awareness campaigns and education
- Free front of house (MAST) testing with The Loop which also includes a one-to-one 15-minute drug consultation session
- Trained drug workers stationed at each of the seven campsite hubs
Please read below for further information on the three areas we have highlighted as key points that many people should be fully aware of before experimenting with drugs; the severe dangers of drug misuse, effects of polydrug use (including prescription drugs) and increased strength of Ecstasy / MDMA.
Drugs can and do kill
We really don’t want to go down the route of being a school teacher or take the approach of just say no. That doesn’t work. The truth is that many people experiment with drugs on a regular basis with no severe consequences, but every person is different, every day a different day, every drug a new composition and new combination, and because of this, and many other contributing factors, drugs do kill.
Always know what you are taking and the likely effects it will have on you, especially if mixed with other substances and make sure you are with friends and know what each other are taking, where it came from and the key factor of all, pace yourself. Respect yourself, your surroundings and most importantly, your body.
Increased strength of drugs on the market:
Ecstasy deaths are approaching the highest they have ever been. In a 2015 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), findings show a “recent resurgence in use of MDMA in Europe and increased availability of high-strength MDMA tablets and powders”. In 2005, pills contained around 80MG of MDMA. Now, the average sits at around 150MG, but new pills popping up have tested upwards of 250MG.
A recent study has also suggested that women should be particularly careful when trying Ecstasy as they are more likely to end up in emergency rooms than men. One theory suggests the effects may be due to the way the drug interacts with the body’s chemistry and how oestrogen, the female hormone, impairs cells’ ability to release water, meaning that women are particularly at risk from the effects.
A lot of drugs have come on the market in recent months that are incredibly pure, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are ‘safer’ or good for you… They should be approached with caution and researched thoroughly. Always pace yourself, stay with friends, and do not mix substances. The crush-dab-wait campaign from The Loop is a really helpful approach: http://wearetheloop.co.uk/crushdabwait
Dangers of polydrug (multiple drug) use:
Using more than one drug at a time is known as polydrug use. Polyuse intensifies the effects of any individual drug and makes them more dangerous. For example, mixing stimulants, such as ecstasy and cocaine, can increase the high, but also the risk of heart attack.
Combining substances can not only have fatal effects on the body but can also affect the mind by severely depleting serotonin levels in the brain, which can spark issues such as depression and anxiety.
Mixing alcohol and other substances is probably the most common form of polydrug use, as many people don’t think of alcohol as a ‘drug’. Alcohol can, however, have a big impact on the way many substances affect you. Some of the time this involves it enhancing the effects of the other drug, but with many substances, alcohol can create a dangerous, potentially fatal, chemical reaction.
The more drugs that are used simultaneously, the greater the risk is. Do not mix substances. Make sure you are fully aware of all the dangers and side effects that could be caused. ALWAYS make sure your friends are aware of what you are taking and that someone is with you at all times.
Misuse of prescription drugs:
Just because a drug has been prescribed by a doctor it does not mean it is safe for use in any other way then one instructed by the physician. The most common prescription drugs to be misused include sleeping tablets or tranquilisers (benzos), anabolic steroids, painkillers and treatments for mental disorders.
Benzos - Valium, Xanex, Tamazepam
The drug group benzodiazepine, (‘benzos’) are primarily misused to come down from other drugs such as ecstasy or speed (amphetamines). It is a highly dangerous combination as the tranquillisers can be ‘numbing’ and when taken with alcohol the combined depressant effects can easily cause fatal overdose by inhibiting breathing or slowing down vital organs.
Read on for common forms of polydrug use:
Alcohol & Cocaine
This combination results in the formation of an entirely new chemical in the body — cocaethylene. In other words, when cocaine is broken down in a body that is also intoxicated with alcohol, the long-lasting chemical cocaethylene forms instead of the usual cocaine products.
- Cocaethylene is associated with liver damage, seizures and immune system damage.
- The risk of immediate death is approximately 20 times higher from cocaethylene than cocaine.
- Tests show that levels of cocaine in the blood can increase as much as 30%. This increases the strain on the cardiovascular system.
- Increases in violent behavior and suicidality have been reported when cocaine and alcohol are used together.
Alcohol & Ecstasy
Alcohol may moderate the high you get from Ecstasy, and you may not feel as strong an effect as usual. But then it is likely that you will feel much worse when you come down off these drugs.
- Both Ecstasy and alcohol cause dehydration which can increase one’s chances of heatstroke when dancing in a hot environment for hours
- There is a greater strain on a person’s liver and kidneys, which may lead to nausea and vomiting.
- Both drugs cause an impairment of a person’s judgement. Risky and dangerous decisions and actions may result.
Alcohol & Other Stimulants
Alcohol abuse may be combined with Ritalin, Adderall, methamphetamine or amphetamine. Some diet pills, over the counter cold remedies and even strong energy drinks, can also be dangerous.
- As with cocaine, these stimulants can obscure the sedating effects of alcohol, enabling a person to get dangerously drunk without fully realising it. The user may try to drive, which is dangerous to both yourself and others nearby.
- As with Ecstasy, overheating is more likely to occur which can lead to organ damage.
- A person abusing this combination may lose their inhibitions but be irritable and aggressive. Emotions may run out of control. The results can be disastrous.