Summer is in full swing. The sun shines upon music festivals, which are roaring away and entertaining thousands of people. Everyone hits the road to spend their time with friends under tents and by fire to see their favourite bands or DJs. Moreover, among beer or a joint of pot, some are also tempted by psychotropic substances (PS). Have you ever lost control?
Translated and revised by Radek R. Kasa
The purpose of the following text is to open and discuss a matter of own responsibilities we should take if we decide to go high on such events.
The author, Eva Césarová, is a young activist from the Czech Republic who is involved in various activities related to drug policy, harm reduction and psychedelics.
The situation on the pitch
Likewise in the Czech Republic, there are many other countries in Europe (in the world) where you can encounter a somewhat liberal approach towards the local drugs scene. (Note from the author: In this case, being liberal does not necessary mean ideal, nor that more liberal society would be more beneficial). These days, despite to their illegality, psychoactive substances are easy to get hold of in such countries.
Shutting down a number of illegal labs by drug enforcement units consequently results in many drug producers being caught up in the net. However, it feels like that when drug lords lose one of their tentacles; another pair grows instantly. Regulation could be the path we might take on. Among other benefits, it mainly offers control over the purity of substances. At the moment, on the black market, those obviously aren’t distributed with an information leaflet or labelled. In many cases, they are not even what you are buying. For example, surveys conducted by EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) show that two of three ecstasy pills aren’t real ecstasy pills. Authorities, however, still come to believe that regulation of the market would mean to lose the control.
In terms of using PS at festivals, according to WHO, we have to acknowledge that about 90% of users aren’t addicted, and their behaviour isn’t classified as problematic. Those are people who decide to occasionally change their state of consciousness in a different way than the government allows. Whereas, the government, paradoxically, supports the propagation of danger and toxic alcohol, which is more toxic than some PS. The freedom of how to handle our consciousness to the best of our knowledge and in all conscience should never be questioned if the person doesn’t harm themselves or others.
The rules of the game
To be able to return form the journey, to bounce back to reality without any harm, you should have to get informed beforehand your departure. For example, water is a good servant but a lousy master. Dosing is crucial. If you buy a PS form an unknown source, try a little sample first. Combination of different PSs is risky. Sun can become your unwanted enemy. In case that you are about to experience psychedelics (LSD, MDMA, psilocybin -mushrooms, ketamine), bear in your mind that set & setting are essential – the mood of your mindset, environment, and people who you are with. Consider the dose and the purpose of your trip – what do want or expect from the experience, even if you do it just for fun. The following day plays the critical role in such settings too. Consider your responsibilities and commitments you have to meet of which weight could turn into a nightmare hangover after the binge night.
The foe lies in wait everywhere. When you are high on PS at a festival, things can go south easily. The purity can be the reason of unpleasant states. We have the rules we should follow. There is always a little probability, a chance that a good high can turn into an unhappy end. It could be an element of chaos or the panic from breaking the law too.
It is crucial to realise that bad experience in connection with altered consciousness can result in long-lasting consequences. Recklessly jumping right into it that you’d leave it to its fate, getting utterly blind, is extremely dangerous to the mental health, and the surroundings where you are located. And last but not least, such actions are hazardous to the society, which, after witnessing irresponsible practices of problematic users, tends to tar all drugs with the same brush, ignoring their properties and effects. This eventually ends up in absolute prohibition.
The safe zone
In the recent past, prevention has become the leader role at open-air festivals. In fact, in some countries, you can have a chance to visit purity testing stands – checkpoints. These practical programs have the effect of reduction of risks regarding using. In the Czech Republic, for example, these programs cannot be run due to unsuitable legislation. Other countries follow.
Isn’t the right time to accept new paradigms, and the changes which are carried with them? If the law doesn’t serve to the public anymore, to whom does it serve?
The road is the final destination
Altered consciousness is a fragile and delicate issue. It can influence emotional and visual perception, experience, the way of thinking, and other factors of human behaviour. The first kick-in, which is usually very liked, lasts just for a short period. Whereas the altered state of consciousness goes on longer and it may seem easy to handle. However, it is recommended not to underestimate it. Many highs of PS come in waves depending on what is going on at the time. In this case, be aware that ‘less is usually more’.
With a little perspective, a detached view, we can see using PS as an adrenaline sport. A sport when we try out our mental and physical part. Adrenaline sports are mostly dangerous. Therefore, we try to minimise the risks with safety precautions. However, it is difficult to implement precautions to actions which are utterly or partly banned. Yet still tolerated at some level.
Altered consciousness offers to experience ordinarily situations differently. Some seek such states, some fear them. Everyone has a brain and perhaps common sense too, likewise conscience that we’d never let it out of control, right?
Using PS in the environment of open-air music festivals is not recommended. However, if you decide to go for it anyway, bear in mind that it is primarily you who is responsible for your mental and body health.