Intoxicated Festie Besties

Music festival drug usage

“A scientist, a medical health expert, and an army of volunteers show up at a rave.” It isn’t the punchline of a joke, it’s starting to become real life where trained professionals and concerned civic servants are worried about the kinds of drugs being purchased and consumed at music festivals across the country  – occasionally to deadly effect…so read on to learn how you can avoid a music festival drug overdose when you can’t be sure of drug purity.

While ecstasy (often referred to as “Molly”) is one of the most popular drugs commonly associated with the music scene, it isn’t the only substance the 32 million people who attend at least one U.S. music festival each year may be exposed to.

To learn more we surveyed over 1,000 people across the country about their experiences buying illicit drugs at music festivals, sneaking them in the area, music festival drug use, and the potential consequences that followed. Want to know which types of music could be leading to the most drug overdoses or which festival’s drugs were more likely to be cut with dangerous additives? Read on to learn more.

Avoiding Anonymity

who and where respondents bought illicit drugswho and where respondents bought illicit drugs

One of the most concerning elements in the relationship between the music scene and drug abuse for health professionals today are the unidentifiable additions of unmarked and sometimes dangerous substances. Research has shown drugs marketed and sold as ecstasy, for example, occasionally contain zero traces of MDMA, the one and only ingredient that should be present in pure Molly. Ecstasy isn’t the only drug getting a boost from other chemicals either. Studies have found traces of aluminum and glass inside marijuana and fentanyl in samples of heroin. Beyond being unrecognizable to the naked eye, these cutting agents are sometimes significantly stronger than the drugs they’re labeled as creating deadly consequences.

To understand how drugs are being acquired at many of these music events and how music festival drug use happens, we asked our panel of men and women across the country whether they purchased their drugs before or during the show. Once they arrived at the festival nearly 2 in 3 Americans told us they purchased their narcotics from random drug dealers while only 1 in 4 bought them off a friend. People loading up on their substance of choice before attending a major music festival were more likely to have familiarity with the person dealing their drugs. More than half (54 percent) purchased from a friend while nearly 1 in 3 bought from their regular drug dealer instead.

Precarious Propositions

Curious what your chances of running into these substances are at any given music festival? Our study revealed the answer might depend on the kinds of tunes being featured in the main event.

If you’re a fan of jam bands and events like the High Sierra Music Festival or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage fest peak your interest – be warned – you may find more than just good vibes or the melodic intersection of bluegrass, jazz, and folk music while you’re there. Nearly 90 percent of the people we polled told us they’d been offered drugs at jam band festivals followed by 80 percent or more of people who’d attend EDM and mixed genre shows like Electric Zoo and Tomorrowland. In 2013, Electric Zoo was closed prematurely after two concertgoers died from overdoses linked to MDMA and other “party-drugs”.

Hiding In Plain Sight

where people hide their drugs

The lengths some people are willing to go to conceal drugs from authorities or standard security checks may shock you. Evidence has found illegal drug harboring in everything from a roasted chicken to children’s toys and even prosthetic body parts. Considering the legal repercussions of being caught with certain substances, it’s no wonder some go so far to keep them hidden.

Our survey found you might not have to try very hard to sneak drugs into the next major music festival with you as music festival drug use is extremely common. More than 1 in 4 people we polled admitted they simply put the narcotics in their pockets while nearly as many went just one step further and concealed them in their bras or underwear. While some shows have stepped up the level of attention they pay to recreational drug use in light of recent tragedies, others have suggested festivals should focus more on safety than security by providing drug-testing stations and more immediate access to water or medical attention to help prevent fatal overdoses.

Men and women we surveyed also admitted to hiding drugs in their backpacks, shoes, and wallets while very few went to the extent of concealing the narcotics in their hair or other unmentionable body parts. If you find yourself needing to hiding your narcotics more often than not, consider drug addiction treatment in South Florida.

Casual Coitus

unprotected sex while under the influence

Just because you think you know what your body can handle when it comes to drug use doesn’t mean you know how those substances might affect an unborn child should you (or your partner) become pregnant. While the dangerous effects of illicit narcotics (including marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines) have been well documented, it’s worth noting that even over-the-counter medications and alcohol can have lasting effects on the development of a human fetus.

When it comes to the influence of drug use on unprotected sex, men and women we surveyed admitted certain types of music festival were more likely to lead to intimacy under the influence than others. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans confessed they’d had unprotected sex after drug use at EDM festivals followed by more than 1 in 5 at country music shows. While less common, more than 1 in 10 men and women attending mixed-genre shows told us they’d gotten high and fooled around without taking the proper precautions.

Varieties of Drug Use

caught by security

Substances like ecstasy may often be referred to as the party-drug of choice, but they aren’t the only way people going to music festival chose to get high. As our survey revealed, concertgoers were significantly more likely to get stopped by security for carrying drugs much more dangerous – and deadly – than the “hug drug”.

More than 1 in 4 Americans who admitted to being caught red-handed trying to get into a music festival equipped with more than just good times and flower crowns said it wasn’t ecstasy or even marijuana they were holding on to – it was meth. Nearly 28 percent of our survey participants said they’d been stopped trying to bring methamphetamines into the show followed by nitrous (26 percent) and opiates (22 percent). Severely addictive, drugs like meth can produce short-term effects including irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and hallucinations while long-term use may result in even more severe reactions like violent behavior and anxiety. If you or someone you know is struggling, a men’s sober house or women’s sober house may be an option and many can benefit from a sober living program. 

Witnessing the Risk

festival overdoses

It may only take moments for a person to go from carrying a normal conversation to overdosing if they’ve consumed too much of a certain type of drug or taken something that was unknowingly laced with dangerous additives. You may notice their lips start to turn blue or that they make gurgling sounds as they struggle to breathe. Their body might tense up and your first reaction could be that they’re having a seizure before they become unresponsive and you realize just how much of an effect these drugs have had on their system. For the 64,000 people who died from drug overdoses in 2016, these are just a few of the signs they might have exhibited before ultimately losing their lives to drug misuse.

Watching a person overdose from drug use may be just as traumatizing as experiencing an overdose firsthand. More than 1 in 3 people we surveyed about their own experiences said they’d witnessed a drug overdose at an EDM festival followed by more than 1 in 4 at rap and hip-hop shows. Even at the least likely festival genre (country music) where men and women reported drug overdoses more than 1 in 5 people said they’d been an eyewitness to the perils of recreational drug use.

Play it Safe

drugs not tested

Whether you’re buying a drug test kit in advance yourself or finding someone at the show who’s doing a drug test for others, having someone examine the purity of your drugs before ingesting them can be the difference between life and death. While there’s no guarantee that even pure drugs will be without risk, checking for unknown additives is a good place to start as you never know what you’re getting with drug purity.

Sadly, despite the availability of these resources a majority of Americans we polled said they don’t have their drugs tested before consuming them. More than 96 percent of our survey respondents who’d been to Lollapalooza at least once said they didn’t get their drugs checked out first followed by nearly 94 percent of Ultra Music Festival attendees and 93 percent who’d been to Warped Tour. In 2016, one of the co-founders of Ultra died of a drug overdose attributed to amphetamines and cocaine and the same year a 21-year old who attended the show died under similar circumstances.

Finding Help before a Music Festival Drug Overdose

Today ecstasy has gotten more potent and even more popular than ever. As our research found, the accessibility of drugs like ecstasy, amphetamines, and even opiates at major music festivals across the country may be a common occurrence and with some of these drugs what you can see isn’t always what you’re getting, and you can never be entirely sure about drug purity.

If you or someone you love is battling with drug addiction or misuse today – help is here for you. At FHE Health, we’re committed to the future of behavioral health treatment, and we know recovery starts with you. As a South Florida addiction treatment facility, we believe that communication in substance abuse recovery is of utmost importance and we know our way around music festival drug use and music festival drug overdose. With personalized treatment plans, quality care focused on the mind, body, and spirit, and our top-of-the-line facilities, our goal is to you help find the support you need to start living your best life again today. Addiction affects everyone differently, which is why our treatment plans are focused on what matters most to you. To learn more, visit us online at or call us at (844) 299-0618 today. It’s time to try something different – let us lead the way.


We surveyed 1000 music festival goers from all all states in the USA

Want to use our study?

Please feel free! All that we ask is that you include a link back to this page so readers can learn more about the study.



Contact Us Today

We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns. Fill out the form below to begin your journey towards recovery today!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.