As someone who’s been attending EDM events and festivals for over five years, I know of the influx of negative press regarding medical emergencies at festivals pertaining to drugs. Even in the short time I’ve been immersed in the scene, I’ve found it particularly difficult to be present at an event and witness young adults and their practically lifeless bodies being carried from the crowd or watch someone’s motor skills deteriorate as dehydration and exhaustion ultimately take over.
“The correlation between recreational drug use and music has gone hand in hand for a long time. Medical emergencies have quadrupled since…DanceSafe began in 1999.”
– Emanuel Sferios, founder of DanceSafe
EDM as it stands today is known for being viewed as counter-cultural. In other words, the majority of society does not easily understand what the culture is truly like because it’s deemed so different. For this reason, as the industry continues to grow, it’s placed under a microscope where any incident is sprawled across media outlets immediately.
The truth of the matter is, recreational consumption takes place in a variety of atmospheres…the electronic scene isn’t special in that. Take the recent Kenny Chesney concert for example. What we don’t tend to think about when we hear of a fatality is that consumption isn’t going to just disappear. So the goal is to determine how we can create safe spaces for recreational users so they don’t experience uncomfortable situations while attending events.
Fortunately, there have been organizations and individual advocates looking to priority create that sort of ultimate safety and bring understanding regarding side effects of substances. DanceSafe is one of those organizations. DanceSafe is a non-profit organization that encourages harm-reduction techniques rather than taking an abstinence point of view.
According to Sferios, there are roughly 15-20 deaths annually due to the use of ecstasy or molly, half of which appear to be from pure MDMA. So it’s important to look at what’s changed.It’s really unlikely that MDMA has become a more dangerous chemical throughout the years. In the past, it was more likely for a consumer to take pressed tablets rather than loose powder which makes dosages easier to manage. A pressed tablet usually equals out to one serving size or two at the most. Loose powder on the other hand makes it much more difficult to determine a serving size.
Other issues regarding the use of MDMA is that bath salts have recently flooded the market and the majority of users aren’t testing their products. Methylone in particular is a common substance that is sold as a substitute. When it comes to Methylone, it’s actually quite popular among users, however it also has much higher dosage protocols and users typically re-dose throughout an experience.
“Most users dying from taking pure MDMA are those who have only done it a handful of times and they tend to be younger.”
-Sferios on an unfortunate demographic of users
Younger festival goers are being affected more adversely because they are either less educated on the issue or they are unknowingly pre-disposed to certain genetic vulnerabilities that can make the drug have much stronger side effects.
For example, Malignant Hyperthermia is a disease that causes rapid rise in body temperature and muscle contractions. Malignant Hyperthermia is an inherited disease. When a person unknowingly has this disease and takes pure MDMA their body reacts much differently compared to a user that has no inherited genetic vulnerabilities.
How to combat these deaths? The DanceSafe founder stated “education and rational public policy” in his “MDMA The Movie” documentary trailer seen above.
Twelve other organizations are currently in support of the film, including Bluelight.org and Students For Sensible Drug Policy. MDMA The Movie will debut in 2017. To help make the release a reality, Sferios launched a crowd-funding campaign! If you are interested, share the article and click here to donate.