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The Frank guide to festivals

Festival season is upon us once more. As well as the music and being with friends, festivals are places where our inhibitions and ‘safer’ choices can go out the window. The sense of freedom that festivals create can be a lot of fun but there can also be temptation and maybe even pressure to drink more than you would or to take drugs.

Tips to stay safe

  • Pace yourself – if you drink or take drugs, go slow - it's important to take it easy and to know your level

  • Avoid getting too intoxicated in places that are unfamiliar or around people you don’t know. Even if you’re an experienced festival goer, it’s still easy to lose control, make risky decisions and be less aware of any potential unsafe situations

  • Alcohol and other drugs can alter how you make decisions - you should never feel pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable with.

  • If you find you’re having not quite as good a time as you expected but don’t feel you need medical attention, you can visit the welfare team. Most festivals have a team of people who are there to check on your welfare. Find out where welfare is located when you arrive on site so you know where to go if you start to feel a bit strange or just want somebody to talk to.

If you or someone you are with becomes unconscious or unresponsive, put them on their side in the recovery position and find immediate medical attention by alerting a steward or member of event staff.

You should always be honest with any doctor, nurse, paramedic or welfare team about what you have taken so they know how best to help you.

Safer ways to drink alcohol 

  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and/or water - being a bit tipsy is more fun than getting blind drunk and throwing up

  • If you are drinking earlier in the day, try to stick to drinks with a lower alcoholic ABV content - for example lager or beer rather than spirits.

  • Drinks - alcoholic or otherwise - are the most common way to spike someone so don’t leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from someone you don’t know.

  • Alcohol can take a long time to leave your system so if you are the designated driver on the way home, make sure that you stop drinking from early on the night before and that you feel entirely sober before setting off.  

No drugs are harmless

The only way to avoid the risk of a drug being harmful is not to take them at all. This includes psychoactive substances (formerly known as 'legal highs’) including spice and cannabinoid gummies. But if you do choose to take drugs then:

  • Remember that illegal drugs can vary in both contents and strength. Unless the drugs you take have been tested, you won’t know exactly what is in them or how strong they are.

  • Before taking drugs, consider where you are and how you might feel if the effects of a drug or drugs kick in.

  • If you are taking drugs, tell your friends and look after each other. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd and feel overwhelmed so try and stick together if you can. If you or anyone else starts to feel unwell, help them to seek medical attention or visit the welfare team.

  • Remember that tolerance levels to different drugs can vary. Your tolerance level to a drug could be very different to your friends so go slow and try a small amount first.

  • Avoid mixing different substances and/or alcohol.

  • If you have taken ecstasy, take regular breaks from activities, like dancing, to cool down. And keep hydrated by sipping no more than a pint of water or non-alcoholic drink every hour.

  • If you have decided you are going to take a drug, try a small amount of it first and wait at least an hour to see what the effect is before considering taking any more.

  • If you are driving back, bear in mind that some drugs can continue to impair your driving after you stop feeling high. Some can also stay in your system for days at levels that make it illegal to drive

The Law

The UK law at festivals is no different to anywhere else. Drugs are illegal and if you’re found in possession of illegal drugs on site, you may be ejected from the festival site and/or arrested. All festivals have strict security measures in place which can include full searches on arrival and drug detection or ‘sniffer’ dogs. For larger events, the police sometimes search people before they arrive on site at train stations or other stop off points.

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