Staying safe this festival season
Festivals and summer parties are a great time to enjoy yourself with friends, however, you want to remember your time for the right reasons. So whether you are off to a festival in Scotland or heading abroad, here are some tips to help you make the most of it and stay safe.
- Stay with friends and look after each other – decide on a group rendezvous point in case anyone gets lost and pitch your tent next to an obvious landmark.
- When it comes to drinking, try and pace yourself. Drinking water between alcoholic drinks can prevent you getting dehydrated and reduces the effects of a hangover.
- Pack contraception – and remember to use it! Alcohol and drugs affects your judgement, which can mean you take more risks, like not using condoms.
- If you’re concerned about someone, get help straight away, but don’t leave them on their own! There are medical facilities and welfare zones at all festivals. It’s important to be honest with professionals about what you or your friends have taken.
Vicki Craik works for Crew, an Edinburgh based charity who work at festivals throughout Scotland providing welfare, support and information on sex, drugs and safer partying. Vicki has these words of advice:
"The best way to make the most of your festival experience is to be prepared. Take all the essentials like a sleeping bag, ear plugs, torch, toothbrush/paste, water, sunscreen (and aftersun), insect repellent, wet wipes and a phone and familiarise yourself with the site layout."
High potency pills and powders
There have been a number of reports showing high potency ecstasy pills in circulation, as well as a high variation in strength between pills.
There is no way of knowing for sure what is in a pill or powder, or what other substances it may contain, with many differing in strength. This means the immediate effects can vary and there is the possibility of accidental overdose from taking too much as the strengths of substances are unknown. Everyone is different and ecstasy can affect people in different ways.
Mixing more than one drug, including alcohol, increases the risk of unpredictable side effects, including overdose.
Kenny Simpson from Police Scotland highlights the current trends in Scotland:
"The main issue is the increase in ketamine use and the levels of MDMA within ecstasy tablets currently in circulation. After consultation with other drug professionals I am concerned about the variance in dose in ecstasy tablets.
"Drugs sold in white powders may not be what they are bought as and the clear message remains that there are no guarantees about what the users are getting. It's important for all to appreciate the dangers of taking any drug but in particular 'poly' drug use involving different substances and alcohol."
Vicki from Crew has this to say on high potency ecstasy pills:
"Aside from alcohol, ecstasy (or MDMA) is one of the most common drugs we see at festivals. Some pills have been found to contain more than double or even triple what would be considered a normal dose. Even pills that look the same can vary in content. MDMA can also be found in crystal form which makes it very difficult to judge what one dose would be and its strength can vary a lot.
"People should also avoid mixing alcohol and other drugs. It’s important to avoid overheating and to stay hydrated; take regular breaks from dancing and drink no more than a pint of water (or isotonic drink) per hour."
What to do in an emergency
It’s important to look after your friends and ask for help if needed. If someone collapses or is unconscious, call for help immediately, turn them onto their side in the recovery position to avoid choking and stay with them until medical help arrives. There are welfare teams at festivals but it’s important to be honest about what you or your friends have taken.
Where to find out more
To get the facts about specific drugs check out our A-Z, or our 10 things to know about ecstasy.