Electronic dance music has exploded in the past two decades, giving us great artists and DJ’s such as Deadmau5, Louis the Child, Odesza, Illenium, Marshmello, and thousands more.
Though I’ve only been to about a handful of music festivals, I have many close friends that go to EDM festivals at least once per month. Drugs such as Molly, Ecstasy, Acid, and Ketamine, are commonly seen at all music festivals, but electronic dance music festivals especially have seen harsher psychedelic drug abuse than other genres. It is not unusual to witness many people on hallucination trips, and just wandering off into the distance in their own little world.
When you go to an EDM concert, expect to see a wide array of drugs. Drugs being sold, purchased, and consumed. It doesn’t matter if the concert is all ages, or21+, a drug free EDM concert basically does not exist. There’s lots to learn about the different types of drugs, and many resources online can inform you.
All you need to know about drugs
Molly: Molly is slang for methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, or MDMA. It can be consumed in powder or crystal like form, in pill form, and even dissolved in water. It increases the energy in the brain, releases dopamine and serotonin, and increases heart rate and blood pressure. It can trigger hormonal responses in the brain that cause sexual desire. A molly comedown is like a major hangover. It can make you restless but tired, and hungry or lose your appetite. It is usually accompanied with extreme feelings of anxiety and depression.
Ecstasy: Another term for MDMA.
Acid: Acid is Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD for short. It is a liquid, and can be consumed as is, or placed onto a small tab of paper that is dissolved on the tongue. Sometimes, dealers will put small graphics on the tabs to make them look more appealing such as smiley faces, Grateful Dead Teddy Bears, or other small, colorful, and ‘trippy’ illustrations. Acid can last anywhere from 6-10 hours, and can sometimes be accompanied by a ‘bad trip.’
A bad trip can come from a person experiencing anxiety and discomfort when taking the drug, and can lead to extreme paranoia, mood swings, feelings of being trapped, and terrifying hallucinations. “Good trips” can lead to spiritual enlightenment, interesting visuals, and a decrease in feelings of anxiety.
Acid is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. It can cause devastating long term damage to the brain. When a person is at risk for mental health issues, taking acid induce those issues much earlier in life, and make them much worse. It is even said that some people can get stuck in a permanent ‘trip’ forever.
Ketamine: Ketamine, or ‘Special K,’ is supposed to be used as an anesthetic. It helps people fall asleep, and feel no pain. When taken recreationally, it causes a person to disassociate from their body, and experience hallucinations. It is commonly known as “horse tranquilizer’ although it actually is used as an anesthetic for animals in veterinary purposes. In extreme cases, the use of ketamine recreationally can lead to seizures, violent behavior, and physical sickness. When a person has taken Ketamine, they can fall into a “k-hole.” This can leave users fearing for their lives, and feeling as if they have no control over their body, which can lead to fatal consequences.
Drug culture as a whole
Some concerts have drug dogs to sniff out illegal substances being snuck into the venue, but a lot of people have figured out ways to work around that. When a person is really desperate to get drugs into a concert, they will. They hide baggies of pills inside underwear, bras, shoes, and sometimes even inside the body. That way when security pats them down, they do not feel anything.
Last year I was pulled out of line by the drug sniffing dogs, and I was probably the only person in line who DIDN’T have drugs on me. I was really confused about the whole thing, and I think the combination of people’s bodily smells, the concert less than 50 feet away, and the growing lines of 1000+ people really made the dogs unreliable.
Unfortunately, electronic dance music has attracted a following with a crowd that tends to use hard core party drugs. Alcohol is usually not as common at festivals, because they are during the scorching heat of the day time. People are getting dehydrated fast and when alcohol is added to that combination, it can cause blackouts, which many people do not want to have during a concert that they want to remember. Water lines are sometimes hundreds of people long, and cramped and sweaty.
It is very hard for dedicated festival goers to kick a drug habit, because in many genres, electronic music especially, music is their life. A festival is where they know they can let loose without fear of judgement. Unfortunately, many drugs that EDM festival attendees use have terrible comedowns, which encourages the further usage of the drug.
Since EDM has not been around for a long time, it is hard to gauge exactly how devastating the substance abuse issues are for people later in life. It is easy to get caught up in the moment, and get lost in the music, but when that is over, individuals are left with little to no serotonin and dopamine in their brains. This causes them to keep using the drug to feel normal, and leads to addiction.
Drug overdoses are extremely common at festivals. I remember walking by the medical tent at a festival, and seeing every single hospital bed full of someone hooked up to an IV. Fortunately, these people most likely were just dehydrated, but sadly there have been many drug-related deaths at EDM concerts.