Drug Testing Access at Australian Festivals May Have Prevented Past Deaths

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It’s already fairly well known that music festivals tend to come with plenty of illicit drug use. The activity is so common at festivals, and in dance scenes as a whole, that organizers and attendees alike are becoming increasingly more equipped to combat potential overdoses through a variety of measures.

A new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy underscores the impact of these harm reduction strategies and consciously incorporating them into events, looking at the amount of drug-related deaths at Australian music festivals, the common trends and what may have helped to prevent them.

Moreover, the researchers ultimately confirmed that mobile medical care, drug testing and increased consumer education and awareness could have prevented these largely unintentional deaths.

Examining Modern-Day, Drug-Related Deaths at Australian Festivals

Researchers note the high prevalence of drug use among festival attendees compared to the general population, citing a study finding that 44% of over 5,200 surveyed Australian music festival attendees reported past-month use of illicit drugs. That said, it’s no surprise that more instances of drug use often result in increased cases of drug-related harm.

To examine the prevalence of drug-related deaths at Australian music festivals, researchers conducted a descriptive case series study using the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) looking at relevant data between July 2000 and December 2019.

The study noted a total of 64 deaths, predominantly males (73.4%) aged in their mid-20s (ranging 15-50 years old). MDMA and alcohol were the most common substances across the study period, reported respectively in 42 (65.6%) and 30 (46.9%) cases and with alcohol co-detected with MDMA in 14 (33.3%) cases. 

Deaths were primarily associated with toxicity from MDMA and other stimulants (19 cases), toxicity from other drugs or drug combinations (11 cases) and either natural causes (10 cases) or external injuries (24 cases) in the setting of drug use, like those involving motor vehicle or …

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Author: Keegan Williams / High Times

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