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Drugs and Music Festivals

music festivals and drugs

Drug Abuse at Music Festivals: How do we fix this problem?

The hottest music festivals of 2019 are in full swing. Music enthusiasts flock to these festivals to see their favorite artists and to have a good time. Although these concerts are supposed to be all about the music, too often people take this opportunity to indulge in some risky drug behavior.

Drug Testing at Music Festivals

With an estimated 75% of festivalgoers drinking alcohol and 13% using MDMA, drugs and music festivals are a likely combination. [1] As providers of drug and alcohol treatment in Philadelphia, we find these numbers alarming and recognize that this is a big problem. The music festival culture has created an environment that can exacerbate substance use and lead to dangerous consequences like overdoses and preventable accidents that result in hospitalization.

Since prevention hasn’t been doing enough to deter this dangerous combination of drugs and music festivals, some places have decided to take a different approach. Australia has been one of the more recent countries to try implementing pill-testing facilities at these music festivals. Because synthetic drugs are unregulated and can be laced with other substances, people who buy these drugs may not be getting what they thought. Our rehab center in Philadelphia has worked with many patients who have experienced this problem firsthand. In fact, research found that 20% of drugs sold at a concert in 2016 contained substances other than what they were being marketed as. [2] Drug testing at music festivals is designed to catch any dangerous and deadly pills as well as inform the person as to what is in the drug.

To be clear, abusing drugs of any kind is dangerous and you should get professional help like PHP treatment, but the goal of these sites is safety. By testing the drugs, deadly combinations can be discovered, and preventable deaths are avoided. Critics of drug testing at music festivals worry that it will encourage drug use, but pill-testing at concerts could be saving lives. If the pill-testing site discovers 10 deadly pills, that could be 10 lives saved. Supporters of these sites also argue that pill-testing could be helping to deter drug use. After testing the pills, short counseling sessions are completed. One study found that after the addition of drug testing at a specific concert, drug-related hospital visits decreased by 95% in one year. [2]

Other countries around the globe have also been using these drug-testing facilities at similar events in the hopes of preventing any unnecessary drug-related deaths. Various countries in Europe have been using these pill-testing facilities at concerts for years and even places in the United States have tried this process.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, do not wait to seek out professional help.

Reach out to our addiction treatment center in Philadelphia at 888-280-4763 to get started on your path to sobriety today.


  1. Dance Music NorthWest – A Survey Shows the Most Used Drugs at Music Festivals: Here’s What We Learned
  2. The Washington Post – Music festivals are offering to the test the safety of people’s drugs, and police increasingly like the idea
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.