It is important to stay hydrated at music festivals and events, but consuming too much water can cause hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when sodium levels in the blood are abnormally low. Sodium is an electrolyte, which means that it helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around the body’s cells. When too much water is consumed, it can dilute the concentration of sodium in the body and cause cells to swell, potentially leading to health problems or even death. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, loss of energy/fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, and seizures.
There have been cases of hyponatremia deaths reported at EDM events. It is possible that some of these deaths are attributable to an incorrect belief that drinking water will dilute any substances in the bloodstream, thereby reducing the effects of a difficult experience (including symptoms like fear and panic). It is therefore important to remember that water is not an antidote to any psychoactive drug and that nobody should drink more than 2-4 cups an hour.
If you decide to consume drugs, you should do so in the presence of someone who has experience “trip sitting,” as they can help hold space and offer assistance when going through a difficult experience. Rather than panicking and over-consuming water to try to alleviate the discomfort of a negative experience, having a sober person you trust there with you is the best possible way to remain safe. Additionally, more events and festivals are now offering harm reduction services like the Zendo Project, which offers safe spaces and trained therapists and volunteers to assist people who are experiencing difficulties, drug-related or otherwise. DanceSafe volunteers may be able to help supply resources like electrolytes and directions to medical in case of an emergency.