On the Dark Side of Festivals

The Monday morning after a major festival or electronic music event, I find myself holding my breath with a twinge of dread. Too often, there are reports of deaths or serious injuries linked to the use of illegal narcotics. It’s really unfortunate that this subculture, in the view of the masses, is synonymous with binging on drugs, alcohol, and general debauchery. There is so much more to it than getting intoxicated.

My heart goes out to anyone who has passed due to drug use or abuse, especially occurring at an event. To the families of these individuals, I express my deep sympathy and condolences. However, there are some families blaming the events for the unfortunate outcome that has been bestowed upon them. I can’t sit back and let the public become outraged with these events, blaming the loss of life on the companies who throw these parties for our enjoyment.

This is what I would like for people to understand.

The war on drugs has far more to do with the death of your loved one than the actions of the production company. The war on drugs ensures that drugs cannot be regulated for safety and dosage. It is a well-known fact of life that prohibition does not eliminate the use of drugs. It merely pushes the production and distribution of these substances into the hands of the black market, where things can get scary and shady. For instance, in the Netherlands – where drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, and a plethora of psychedelics are legal – very few people die from using drugs. Whereas in the United States, with our crusade against psychoactive substances, far more people are dying from “controlled” substances. This site represents data put forth by WHO (World Health Organization). It quantifiably illustrates just how bad substance abuse is in the United States.

Just let that sink in.

Arguably most importantly, every person who chooses to ingest an impairing substance (thanks to the DARE program) should know the risks involved. When you take something into your body, you take full responsibility for your actions. No one else in the world is to blame but yourself. Personal responsibility is the name of the game in the party world. It’s up to you to take care of your body, to test your drugs, and to use them prudently. If you do not use your head and partake with a sense of wisdom and self-awareness, you are playing Russian roulette – all bets are off. Even in doing your best to reduce harm, there are variables over which you have no control.

I do not say these things to be hurtful, only to be honest. It is important to bring awareness to the issue. Legislation such as the Rave Act and the prohibition of these substances is severely hurting society. Are we not the “Land of the Free?” Why, then, do we not have the freedom to expand and alter our consciousness for the sake of our personal growth and enjoyment? Why must we risk our health to enjoy ourselves in the way that most pleases us?

If you want to learn more about harm reduction, how you can take action against unfair legislation, or are interested in a testing kit, Dance Safe is a great organization fighting for the rights and safety of users. Remember that the image of a low-life druggie is mostly a construct of prohibition propaganda. Some of the world’s greatest minds and kindest hearts used drugs. People who experiment with drugs are no different than, you, me, or our next-door neighbors. They are just regular people who want to shed the weight of the modern world from their shoulders, if only for a brief, beautiful moment.

Ashley Eyes

Massachusetts raised, Sun Devil living in Tempe, Arizona. Earning a BS in Sustainability ~ hoping to solve sustainability problems at music festivals.

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