Everett Fitzpatrick/Courtesy Photo

From Coachella to Ultra, festival culture is booming with young adults. 

As with most social situations and young people, drugs have found their way into these events.

Alcohol is sold at most festivals, but many people turn to different drugs for festivals and concerts. MDMA, better known in the form of ecstasy or molly, is one of the most popular drugs of choice, according to Sam*, a Cal Poly student. Sam said he goes to concerts often and has experienced MDMA firsthand.

“Molly is everywhere at these events,” Sam said. “If you can’t get your hands on some before, you can find it inside; people will sneak in tons just to sell.”

MDMA, or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine,  is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It produces feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth and distorted sensory and time perception, hence its nickname “ecstasy.”

But these drugs are not always pure MDMA, according to PULSE peer educator and psychology junior Mackenzie Morrison.

“The thing about molly is it comes in powder form and it’s so easy for other substances to be used as fillers in it,” Morrison said. “Getting drugs at festivals, you just don’t know what’s in it.”

With the already straining conditions of a concert, such as dehydration, exhaustion or famine, drugs and alcohol can make it even easier to slip over the edge of safety.

At Hard Summer, a festival put on in Los Angeles, two young women died in 2015 from a mixture of a drug overdose and the extreme conditions of a 60,000-person gathering. 

Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas went sour in 2015 with the death of Nicholas Austin Tom, a UC Irvine graduate. His death was confirmed as an MDMA overdose.

While drugs such as these may be prevalent, they aren’t necessary in order to enjoy a festival or concert, according to some Cal Poly students. 

Business administration sophomore Gabi Trapani attended Coachella in Indio, Calif. this year. She remembers her experience fondly.

“People kept saying if I didn’t do (drugs) I wouldn’t have fun, which ended up not being true at all,” Trapani said. “While there definitely was drugs there, it’s obvious who’s on a different level.”

Going sober, or consuming a safe and legal amount of alcohol, prevents mishaps such as the ones mentioned above from happening. Mixing any of these substances may also be hazardous.

Safety is the most important thing to consider. Whether festival-goers partake in these activities or not, PULSE advises everyone to stay hydrated, nourished and well-rested.

“I would say the big danger at festivals is heat stroke, and all those things (drugs and alcohol) aid in heat stroke,” Morrison said. “Go with friends you trust and they can help you out.”

If you or someone in your group may be in danger, always seek out the event staff or call 911.

TLC through PULSE is available for anyone who wants to talk about drugs or related topics, in person or at (805) 756-6181.

*Editor’s note: Full name is not given in order to protect the source’s identity. 

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