For many, the solution to drug-related deaths is much simpler than pill-testing: just stop taking them. Anyone who has been to a festival in the past few years would quickly realise that as long as this attitude continues, deaths will continue.
There’s a large degree of truth to the old stereotype of young people believing they’re invincible. In my group of friends, almost all of whom regularly take drugs at festivals, news of another drug-related death rarely stirs anything more than a murmur.
Without the tragedy striking within your immediate group of mates, a festival death is easily passed over with a ‘they were probably being an idiot’ or placing the blame on a dodgy dealer. A vague, unspecific report of yet another festival death due to an ‘unknown substance’ has little impact on any of us.
Myself and many others share the belief that for the most part, as long as you are smart about it you’ll be fine, and our experiences so far have done nothing to dispel this.
Many question why myself and others choose to take drugs in the first place. I think the best way to explain is to push legality aside and draw a comparison to drinking. They simply offer something different on a night out, something that in moderation can help you have a better time.
Seeing someone passed out in a pool of their own vomit outside a pub doesn’t deter me from a few beers and equally hearing about an overdose doesn’t deter me from having a few caps at a festival.
I’m fully aware of the risks, yet when it comes down to it, among me and all of my friends there’s a prevailing sense of ‘it couldn’t happen to me could it?’. Faced with a decision between what seems like an infinitely small risk and not taking anything, the choice seems obvious. Myself and many others share the belief that for the most part, as long as you are smart about it you’ll be fine, and our experiences so far have done nothing to dispel this.
The bad drug experiences I’ve witnessed have come as a result of either stupidity or bravado, with people taking far more than what is, for want of a better word, safe. People take another cap because they think their first one isn’t going to hit, people take more than they should because they think it’s impressive.
The very measures that are meant to deter drug taking have been the trigger for some of the worst experiences that have ever happened to my friends. The sight of police at the entrance to a festival has led panicked swallowing of everything a friend had on them, putting to waste well thought out plans for the safe or staggered consumption of drugs.
In the absence of a better system, most of us just turn to past experiences and word of mouth as a safety net, which is exactly why we need pill-testing. Pill-testing isn’t going to save the man chewing his face off taking eight caps on a 35 degree day.
But it will save the guy just having one because all of his friends are, assured by the knowledge it’s come from a reliable dealer but unaware of the true nature of the substance they are consuming.
Drugs and festivals will continue to mix, but until we realise that there’s always less harm in knowing, the combination will be volatile.