Drugs and Infiltration into the Music Scene
Drug Usage and Infiltration into the Music Scene has been around for many decades. In the 1960s, hallucinogenic drugs such as mushrooms, LSD and peyote saw a dramatic rise. Cocaine was in the top spot during the 1970s and 80s. During the 1990s, rave culture became popular and there was a massive flood of ecstasy pills and methamphetamines into the market and music scene. And in the early 2000s, pure, crystalline MDMA emerged, also known as “Molly” (powder form) or “Ecstasy” (in pill form). Since 2009, more than 243 new drugs have come onto the scene, many popping up at music festivals across the world and being anything but pure substances. With young adults putting what they assume is pure MDMA or LSD into their body, these drugs are leaving some with unfortunate and severe consequences, in some cases, losing their life.
In order to get a better idea of just how many music festivals attendees are abusing drugs, a federally funded study went underway at this year’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami. One of the most popular music festivals, Ultra has been around for 16 years and is known for its incredible line up of music. However, many participants of this and other music festivals are very open to admitting a wide range of drugs can be found at these events. During Ultra’s event, 145 men and women volunteer to be tested for drugs, either via blood or urine sample. Eighty percent of urine samples came back positive for recent drug use, as did 58 percent of blood test results. The goal of this National Institute of Justice study was not to see how many people at Ultra were taking drugs, but to see what some of the new, emerging drugs were that are appearing in the festival scene. It was also to show that often times, what these young men and women believe they are consuming is in fact a completely different drug.
It is believed that some of the illegal drugs that can be found in music festivals are cut or laced with harmful substances, leading users to suffer negative side effects or overdose. Of the urine samples taken during Ultra, more than 80 percent tested positive for Molly, followed by Alpha-PVP. Alpha-PVP is a synthetic bath salt, commonly known as gravel, and is blamed for the death of 21 year old Adonis Pena Escoto during the 2014 Ultra Music Festival. It is believed Escoto’s drink was laced with gravel – his medical report citing acute Alpha-PVP toxicity as the cause of death. Just one year earlier, a 23-year-old Ultra-attendee went into a coma and almost died after he drank water that was laced with anti-freeze.
Excessive drug use and/or consuming drinks or substances laced or cut with lethal substances has occurred as numerous music festivals around the world. In 2013, according to the New York Post, during New York’s Electric Zoo festival, a 20-year-old female named Olivia Rotondo suffered a massive seizure and died, immediately after telling an EMS worker that she has just taken six hits of Molly. Twenty-three year old Jeffrey Russ also died during this festival because of an overdose of Ecstasy. Molly overdoses are particularly high because many of the pills aren’t pure but rather they contain PMA – a toxic drug that offers similar side effects as MDMA. In fact, according to the drug awareness group DanceSafe, half of the MDMA samples tested at recent music festivals in the United States were found to be fake. Because Molly is a white powder, the “white powder” given to unsuspecting buyers can be anything but the real substance.
Unfortunately, as younger fans continue to attend music festivals in huge numbers and more and more music festivals emerge, some will attend with the intent of taking drugs and getting high. Without strict controls on drugs at these festivals, young men and women will continue to purchase drugs, fake and pure, and put themselves at risk for serious side effects, overdose, and death.