A researcher has today made calls for better education around drug and alcohol use at festivals following a study looking at medical treatment at Australian music festivals.
RMIT Vice-Chancellor Research Fellow Dr Monica Barratt has presented the Australian Music Festival Attendees Who Seek Emergency Medical Treatment Following Alcohol & Other Drug Use research report, which has found that, “Festival-goers who reported seeking medical help most often did after heavy drinking”.
“Four in five people who sought medical help said they had been drinking alcohol, with most reporting they were ‘already drunk’ before taking MDMA,” said Barratt of the findings.
“What’s surprising is the median number of standard drinks consumed was 15 over a five-hour drinking session when medical help was sought.
“That amount is three times over the limit recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury.”
The report found that MDMA and LSD were the drug types most likely to result in medical assistance.
“Respondents who took MDMA were further asked whether they had tried to find out about the content and purity of their MDMA before consumption at the last emergency treatment event,” continued Barratt. “Over half of people surveyed had not tried to understand the make-up of the drug.
“Those who did try to find out content and purity information did so by talking to friends who had already taken it, checking websites and online forums.”
Barratt has recommended an increase in safe spaces and greater education surrounding the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, calling for more groups like DanceWize to “provide nonjudgmental support and education”.
“On-site forensic drug testing services and brief interventions that engage festival-goers to reconsider their drinking practices are also warranted.
“In a society where drug-taking will occur, regardless of what policy or policing measures are in place, aspiring to zero harm for those who use drugs as opposed to zero tolerance to using drugs is a far better solution.”
You can read the full report here.