By Gamal Hennessy
There is understandable shock and anger surrounding the deaths of two people at the Electric Zoo Festival over Labor Day Weekend (See Weekend Revelry Cut Short after Two Die at Electronic Music Festival). It appears that in spite of efforts by event organizers and police, several concert goers became violently ill, in addition to the fatalities. MDNA or Molly is the suspected cause of the injuries. The abrupt end of the festival is a blow for not only music festivals but electronic music in New York.
While these events did not take place in a nightlife venue, music festivals are an aspect of nightlife culture. Drugs are not a universal element of every club, but there are venues and music genres that historically attract this type of consumption. As a matter of public health within nightlife culture, information on responsible consumption needs to be advocated. The following information has been taken from the upcoming Nightlife Safety Guide to offer helpful information to the public.
Concepts in Harm Reduction
Nonprofit groups like the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) have advocated specific harm reduction strategies as part of their overall public policy program. (See Do No Harm: The Evolution of Harm Reduction in Nightlife Culture) They outline the following concepts as ways to reduce the dangers of recreational drug use.
First, if you elect to carry or consume illegal or prescription drugs in nightlife venues, then you need to recognize that voluntary drug use can have physical and legal consequences unrelated to the actual effect of the drug. As a part of the Nightlife Best Practice Guidelines, (See Best Practices for Nightlife Establishments) venue owners are actively working with law enforcement to eliminate drug use in their venues. Managers of bars and clubs can and will take action against you to protect their business and their relationship to the police.
Second, while the impact of illegal or prescription drugs will vary from person to person and from dose to dose the following broad concepts are useful guidelines in harm reduction.
- Stay alert for unexpected symptoms: What you are taking is not regulated. Both you and the person who gave it to you can’t be certain of what is in it.
- Keep dosages low because risks increase as dosages increase.
- Give it time to take effect. Different drugs take a different amount of time to work on different people. If you take another dose before you give the first dose a chance to work you run the risk of an overdose.
- Take breaks from dancing. Overheating is a major source of medical emergencies. Strenuous activity like dancing can contribute to overheating.
- Regulate your water intake. Avoid the temptation to drink too much wager in a short amount of time to combat the overheating, since that is another cause of rapid illness. The rule of thumb for what is too much in this situation is more than one bottle of water an hour.
- Recognize the danger of mixing drugs with alcohol or caffeine because any combination of these substances will cause a dangerous level of dehydration.
- Work with security of something goes wrong.
- If you or your friends experience unusual symptoms, contact security for assistance. They could be in a position to summon medical assistance faster than you.
Information without Stigma
NCI does not support or advocate the use of illegal drugs and this article should not be seen as an endorsement for illegal activity. But overconsumption is an issue in nightlife because it is an issue in American society. Safety can be increased when people have the right information and nightlife safety needs to be supported in the same way as any other endeavor, without any stigma or political conflict. If you would like to know more about this issue, please visit the Drug Policy Alliance at http://www.drugpolicy.org/