Thank you to Diplo, Waka Flocka Flame, LNY TNZ, and Yellow Claw, BUT…
When will we learn that scare tactics do more harm than good? We are pleased this group took the initiative to address drug use when so many DJ’s/artists remain silent on the issue. However, there is a disconnect between the contents of THE VIDEO, health messaging, and our community. Neither the drug manufacturing process nor scare tactics have been useful in affecting decisions to use drugs. Thus, the context of the video has little or no weight on the audience’s decision-making.
It’s important to note there is benefit to targeting perceived severity (risk). However, while the video may increase perceived susceptibility (people in the EDM community believe it is likely they may consume adulterated or harmful substances), it exaggerates perceived risk which makes the message more likely to be dismissed. This approach is a prime example of scare tactics, i.e., majority of people do not die simply from taking drugs recreationally. Rather, risks associated with drug use increase when: users mix or use adulterated substances; they are unable to check drugs for contents and purity; and venues are overcrowded, have poor ventilation or cooling systems, and lack cool down spaces and free water and/or electrolytes.
The message doesn’t address perceived barriers [to drug checking or abstinence], perceived benefits [of drug checking or abstinence], self efficacy [the belief in one’s ability to adopt a behavior or take action], or cues to action [pragmatic strategies to initiate a behavior change]. According to The Health Belief Model, all of these constructs, utilized in conjunction with each other, are effective at changing attitudes and beliefs. Thus, influencing decisions to use and behavior. Additionally, when applying this health behavior theory to fear-based health communication strategies (Extended Parallel Process Model), it is suggested that the threat message must be realistic and emphasize efficacy for change. This video includes no empowerment factor or inclusion of reality-based strategies to prevent negative consequences associated with drug use, drug-related emergencies or death.
Now, time for some [more] real talk.
Many of the video’s targeted audience are already willing to take the risk. This is where harm reduction, risk management, and reality-based education can make a difference and save lives. Young people are expected to make informed decisions about their health, drug use, and safety without the information, tools, and resources needed to do so. Therefore, we need to stop victim blaming, stigmatizing, and demoralizing each other. Every person has, at least at one point in their life, made an irresponsible or uneducated decision. Because a person chooses to use a drug does not make them bad or wrong. It also does not mean they are addicted or have a problem.
Thus, we would like to take this opportunity to present health and safety tips for people who assume the risk(s) associated with drug use:
1. The Buddy System
Always travel with a friend. Always share with your friend any potential substances you have taken and how much. Communicate if you are not feeling well or if you need a break.
2. Chill Out and Take a Break
Dancing and exhausting your body for several hours can result in dehydration or heat exhaustion, with or without the use of substances. Be sure to take a break and cool-down regularly.
3. Hydrate and Replenish Electrolytes
Dehydration and heatstroke are real issues. Most medical emergencies are a direct result of heatstroke and/or dehydration. Drink a bottle of water per hour and supplement with sports drinks such as Gatorade.
Extra Safety Tip: Bring a large jug or camelback to refill and share water with your friends and others around you who may be in need.
4. Know Your Dosage and Source
If you do choose to use a substance, know how much you are consuming and manage potential re-dosing. Remember – “Less is more!” Also, getting substances from strangers can be risky business! Make sure to know your source and drug contents.
5. Test it!
Take it one step further and test it! If you do choose to use a substance, you should know what you are choosing to put in your body to prevent any unintentional risk. Results from DanceSafe’s drug checking program (2011- 2013), show that about half of all powders or pills that users indicated were “molly” contained no MDMA at all. Furthermore, in New York in 2013, results from the DEA indicate that only 9% of all chemical analysis of “Molly” samples exhibit MDMA. For instructions on how to test and to pick up your own personal kit, visit our testing kit instructions.
6. Be Cautious When Mixing Substances
Again, if you do choose to use a substance and choose to use multiple substances, be very careful with drug cocktails. When mixing substances, especially those with different effects on the central nervous system (i.e. depressant vs. stimulant), you increase your risk of unwanted health consequences or death. Subsequently, be cautious when mixing 2 or more depressants, as your heart and breathing may slow, and when mixing 2 or more stimulants, as your heart and breathing may rapidly increase.
7. Get Proper Sleep and Nutrition
This may be easier said than done, but remember – your body maintains homeostasis with the nutrients and vitamins it needs and a proper sleep schedule. We can still have fun without pushing our bodies too hard. Make sure to eat healthy meals and get appropriate sleep before and after the event. Make sure to eat well before heading to the festival and eat a sufficient meal after.
8. Get To And From The Party Safely
Make sure to have a plan A and plan B for you and your friends’ travels. Need some options? Designate a sober driver. Take public transit. Make lodging arrangements walking distance to the party. Camp onsite (if feasible). Or arrange group travel through community services such as Bus To Show.
9. Know Your Rights!
With our current prohibition culture, it is inevitable that you will have to interact with law enforcement and/or security while traveling to/from or entering the event. Thus, it is important to know your rights and how to engage with and speak to law enforcement. For more information and strategies, The Festival Lawyer, Drug Policy Alliance, and The AMPLIFY Project have additional resources and information.
Call to Action!
Often, event producers and promoters are reluctant to address drug use in fear of legal liability or prosecution. Throughout history, there has never been a drug-free society, and it’s unrealistic to think that’s attainable. But rather, we can save lives by coming together to remove federal barriers that prevent basic public health and safety measures from being implemented in nightlife settings.
The Reducing American’s Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, or The RAVE Act, was first introduced by Senator Joseph Biden in 2002. Renamed the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, it was passed by Congress the following year. The RAVE Act expanded earlier “crack house” laws to include commercial venues, allowing business owners to be prosecuted if they “maintain a drug-involved premises.”
When originally passed, the Act gave law enforcement officials greater power to shut down underground dance parties when promoters were knowingly and intentionally encouraging the use of illicit drugs. However, its current language has created a more dangerous situation today by discouraging legitimate EDM event producers and promoters from enacting common sense safety measures to protect their patrons. Providing free water and cool down spaces, and allowing drug education and harm reduction services inside their events would save lives. Yet many event organizers are afraid that these actions could be seen as encouraging drug use and therefore subject them to criminal prosecution under The RAVE Act.
On August 31, 2013, Shelley Goldsmith, a motivated, loving, and hardworking honors student at The University of Virgina, died of heat stroke at an EDM concert in Washington D.C. after taking MDMA. Mrs. Dede Goldsmith, Shelley’s mother, has launched a campaign to amend The RAVE Act in an effort to protect young people and prevent these tragedies from devastating other parents and families by making these events safer.