Outside the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Nevada, a young woman collapsed in the parking lot and died due to a combination of dehydration, heat, and drug intoxication.
According to the Clark County coroner, the drugs found in her system were cocaine and ecstasy.
Tragic and avoidable, this kind of death is sadly not uncommon. Throughout the summer, music festivals take place across the country and many concert-goers suffer medical emergency, overdose, and death as a result of taking too much of an illicit substance and/or drinking too much alcohol.
For those in recovery, the high rate of drug use and abuse and drinking at music festivals can make enjoying the summer feel hazardous. Many feel like they are at risk of relapse if they attend the festivals due to the high accessibility of drugs and alcohol, and others feel that the idea that they cannot attend fun events due to risk of relapse is in itself a trigger for relapse. It can feel like a no-win situation, but the good news is that there are ways to be able to enjoy yourself at music festivals and limit the risk of relapse so you can stay sober and have fun at the same time.
Here are a few ways to take advantage of all the great concerts and festivals taking place across the country as the summer comes to a close:
- Bring sober friends: It is never a good idea to go into a situation that could be a potential trigger for relapse without someone by your side who is also intentionally sober and will help you to remain accountable to your recovery. Concerts are no different, and it can be hugely helpful to have a couple of people with you from 12-Step meetings, group therapy, and/ or drug rehab. Keep them by your side throughout the event, and support them in staying sober as they support you.
- Connect with a sober tour: There are a number of businesses that offer a guided sober tour to different locations. Also, you may find that your local 12-Step meeting group or other support group is planning an outing together. If you would like to connect with a large group of people who are sober to go to a music festival or concert and cannot find one, plan your own! Organize car pools, have everyone pay for their own stuff, and plan to meet at a central location so you can all caravan together.
- Identify the emergency medical tent: At every large outdoor music festival, there are tents that offer water, emergency medical care, and information about staying safe and hydrated. Know where they are so if you see someone in need of help or start to not feel well for any reason, you can quickly connect with these resources.
- Make a plan: Big music festivals can get chaotic. There are tens of thousands of people in attendance, and it is easy to get separated from your friends. Make sure you have a plan in place before you arrive so you can reconnect. For example, you might plan to meet at a certain spot at the concert at the top of the hour if you are separated, and note where the car is parked so you can reconnect at a certain time at the end of the day.
- Bring lots of water and healthy snacks: You will need to stay energized and hydrated throughout the festival. It can be a long day in the hot sun, so bring the provisions you will need to take care of yourself with you. Sunscreen is a must, a hat can be helpful, and a big water bottle is essential.
- Check in: Throughout the day, take the time to check in with yourself and with the people you are with to make sure everyone is feeling solid and okay. Ask yourself if you are feeling stressed out, nervous for any reason, or nostalgic about alcohol and drugs. If you are, take a moment to regroup and call your sponsor or a sober friend who is not in attendance. Remember why you are working so hard to stay sober and all that you have to lose.
- Have a way out: There is always the chance that you will not feel comfortable when you are at a music festival. Even with all your resources in place, if the time is not right in your recovery for you to be surrounded by people who are drinking and getting high, then it may be best if you make an early exit. Have someone who can come pick you up if necessary or a vehicle at your disposal so you can leave on your own. There will always be other music festivals you can go to later. In the meantime, put your recovery first.