"If you go, go slow": HSE launches drug harm-reduction campaign for festival goers
"Leave the mixing to the DJ."
As music festival season begins to kick off around the country, the HSE have launched a new drug harm-reduction campaign to ensure that people session sensibly.
While the official advice remains to not use drugs at all, the health service is encouraging that if you do choose to use, that you reduce your risk of harm.
A HSE study with Trinity College Dublin found that MDMA powder/crystal, cocaine, cannabis and ketamine were the most commonly used drugs.
Here are some of the tips for reducing harm while taking drugs this festival season.
- If you decide to use drugs at the festival, tell a friend. Try to have one friend who doesn’t use, and be sure to be with people you trust.
- Plan to take less than you may have previously. Your tolerance for drugs may have changed if you stopped during Covid restrictions.
- Start low and go slow; take a small test dose, and pace yourself. Leave time between use to help you identify how you are reacting to your drug of choice.
- Leave the mixing to the DJ: Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication. Mixing can increase your risk of becoming unwell or experiencing a drug emergency. In particular, MDMA could interact negatively with some medications such as antidepressants.
- Sip water but don’t drink over a pint an hour as drinking too much can be dangerous. Take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
- Don’t be afraid to get help from the medics if you or a friend becomes unwell or feels suicidal after using drugs. Remember the location of the medical tent at events and what you would do in case of an emergency. Be sure to be honest with medics about what was taken, as this will help them help you.
“As we approach the 2022 festival season it is important that we keep up to date in relation to drug trends across Europe," said Prof Eamon Keenan from the HSE’s National Clinical Lead-Addiction Services.
"Although we have limited access to drug market monitoring In Ireland we are aware of the emergence of some very worrying trends across Europe.
“As well as high strength drugs appearing, as seen recently in the UK, we are currently concerned about the possibility of new psychoactive substances being mis-sold as MDMA pills or crystal, cocaine and cannabis.
"New drugs are continuing to emerge and we must be aware of the risks they pose.
“Our advice remains that it’s safer not to use at all, however if you do, this summer festival season it’s important to ‘start very low and go slow' to reduce your risk of coming to harm.”
The HSE will be present at a number of festivals this year with harm reduction programmes onsite, where volunteers will be available to talk about best practices, and support people in case of drug emergencies.
More information about the campaign is available via the HSE website.