We at Four Four Magazine are firm believers that drug education is far more productive than persecution when it comes to drug safety. It is inevitable that people will take drugs at festival. We hope to see other methods of drug education being in brought in such as drug testing on site at festivals, but judging by the collaboration between Electric Picnic and Ana Liffey Drug Project we as a country are definitely moving in the right direction regarding the matter.

Below you will find information regarding the various drugs that are usually consumed at Irish festivals, including some tips on how to stay safe and outlining the risks that come with each drug.

 

Ecstasy/MDMA

AKA – E’s/Pills/Garys/Yokes/Pingers

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as ecstasy (E), is a psychoactive drug used primarily as a recreational drug. Desired effects include increased empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensations. When taken by mouth, effects begin after 30–45 minutes and last 3–6 hours. It is also sometimes snorted or smoked.

Effects:

Effects can be felt about 30-60 minutes after taking your first dose if swallowed but will be quicker if snorted and include:

  • Increased energy
  • Alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Increased Empathy
  • Heightened awareness of lights and sounds
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of coordination

Risks:

  • Dehydration
  • Heatstroke
  • In rare cases people have suffered heart attacks and strokes
  • Some people report feelings of depression, anxiety and lethargy for a few days after using ecstasy but these effects usually pass.

Harm reduction advice:

  • Be careful with your dose. Always start with a half or a low dose of MD and give the drug time to take effect before redosing.
  • If dancing drink about a pint of water per hour to avoid dehydration but be careful not to drink too much. Some people have suffered problems from drinking too much water when taking ecstasy.
  • Take a break and chill out regularly to reduce the risk of heatstroke
  • If somebody is overheating, take them to a cool place, remove clothing and use water to try to cool them down.
  • If somebody collapses or becomes unresponsive after taking ecstasy put them in the recovery position* and call for immediate medical assistance

Cocaine

AKA – Charlie/Hoover/Bag/Coke/Chan

Cocaine is a strong stimulant mostly used as a recreational drug. It is commonly snorted, inhaled as smoke, or as a solution injected into a vein. Mental effects may include loss of contact with reality, an intense feeling of happiness, or agitation. Physical symptoms may include a fast heart rate, sweating, and large pupils. High doses can result in very high blood pressure or body temperature. Effects begin within seconds to minutes of use and last between five and ninety minutes.

Effects:

Cocaine powder is usually snorted and takes effect about 5 -10 minutes afterwards. The effects include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased energy
  • Euphoria
  • A feeling of power
  • Sexual arousal
  • Palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression (Especially when mixed with alcohol)

Risks:

  • Dependence/ addiction.
  • Nasal damage (some people have needed surgery to repair the damage done to their nose through excessive snorting of cocaine)
  • Heart failure
  • Overheating
  • Paranoia/ Aggression
  • Psychosis
  • There is a risk of contracting blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C through the sharing of snorting paraphernalia

Harm reduction advice:

  • If snorting cocaine powder, use your own note or tube and don’t share this with anyone.
  • Rinse your nostrils with clean water between snorts to reduce the risk of nasal damage.
  • Try to avoid mixing with alcohol. People are more likely to become paranoid or aggressive when the two drugs are combined and there are greater strains on internal organs such as the heart. There are also concerns that a third compound, called cocaethylene, produced when cocaine and alcohol mix in the body adds further strain to internal organs.
  • Avoid using too regularly.
  • Be aware of your use. If you are beginning to find it difficult to contemplate a night out without cocaine it’s probably time to take a break or seek professional advice.
  • As with all drugs, if someone collapses after taking cocaine put them in the recovery position* and call for medical assistance

 

Ketamine

AKA – K/Ket/Regretamine

Ketamine (Ketamine hydrochloride) is a dissociative or sedative drug which has been used in children’s and veterinary medicine. It also has mildly hallucinogenic properties. It is usually bought as a fine white powder which is usually snorted.

Effects:

Ketamine is what is known as a dissassociative anaesthetic which gives users a sense of detachment from their body and surroundings and the effects include:

  • Feeling light and bouncy
  • Dizziness
  • Delusions
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Vomiting (Especially if combined with alcohol)

In higher doses users can experience what is known as the K Hole. In this state people can come across as unresponsive whislt at the same time experiencing vivid hallucinations

Risks:

  • Accidents (While intoxicated)
  • Dependence
  • Nasal damage
  • Bladder problems including urinary tract infections, severe cystitis and in severe cases amongst regular users, ulcerated bladder which requires bladder removal
  • Vulnerability when intoxicated
  • Psychosis
  • Disturbing hallucinations

Harm reduction advice:

  • Be careful how much you use. The K Hole can be a very disturbing experience, especially if you take ketamine in a busy environment such as a nightclub or festival.
  • Try not to use too often. People have reported dependence to ketamine and you can very quickly build up a tolerance which means you will need more of the drug to get the same effect.
  • If you develop persistent cystitis, ‘K-pains’ or other bladder/urinary tract problems seek medical advice and do not take ketamine to reduce the painful symptoms as this could make the condition worse.
  • Try to use in a calm and safe environment with people you know and trust.
  • If snorting, clean your nostrils with clean water regularly.
  • Avoid mixing with other drugs, especially depressants such as alcohol.
  • If someone collapses or becomes unresponsive after taking ketamine put them in the recovery position* and call for medical assistance.

LSD

AKA – Acid/Trips/Tabs/Microdots

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a psychedelic drug known for its psychological effects. This may include altered awareness of the surroundings, perceptions, and feelings as well as sensations and images that seem real though they are not. It is used mainly as a recreational drug and for spiritual reasons. LSD is typically either swallowed or held under the tongue. It is often sold on blotter paper, a sugar cube, or gelatin. It can also be injected.

Effects:

The effects of LSD vary greatly depending on factors such as the environment in which it is taken, the mood of the person taking the drug and the dose taken. The main reported effects of LSD include:

  • Intense visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Distortion of perceptions of reality
  • Distortions of time
  • Synesthesia (Seeing sounds, tasting colours etc)

While the hallucinations brought on by taking LSD can be enjoyable, funny and even profound, there is a risk that users will experience disturbing and frightening hallucinations and lose touch with reality

Risks:

  • Bad Trips. For some people, taking LSD can be a frightening and disturbing experience
  • Accidents while intoxicated
  • Flashbacks. Some people report experiencing hallucinations similar to those brought on by LSD, sometimes many years after taking the drug

Harm reduction advice:

There are few, if any, physical dangers linked to LSD (apart from accidents). You can limit your chances of experiencing a distressing psychological reaction to LSD by following some simple steps:

  • Take a low dose. Trips can last up to 12 hours and once you have taken the drug you won’t know how strong it is until the effects begin to come on.
  • Use with people you know, trust and feel comfortable with.
  • Don’t use if you are worried or depressed, this will increase your chances of experiencing a “bad trip”
  • Try to use LSD in a calm, safe environment, especially if you are new to LSD.
  • Consider having a friend along who isn’t using. They will be able to offer comfort and support to somebody experiencing a bad trip.
  • If somebody becomes distressed after taking LSD and can’t be calmed by talking to them in a calm and supportive manner consider requesting medical treatment.

 

Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin Mushrooms)

AKA – Mushrooms/Shrooms/Mushies

There are over 180 species of mushrooms containing Psilocybin found in the world today. They are commonly known as “magic mushrooms” and are taken for their hallucinogenic effects, with Psilocybin being the magic ingredient. They grow in the wild and some people grow them at home. When taken, the effects begin within 10-60 minutes and last for 4-6 hours.

Effects:

The effects of magic mushrooms depend on factors such as the environment in which they are taken, the amount used and the mood of the person taking them. Effects include:

  • Intense visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Distortions of perceptions of reality
  • Distortions of time
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Unpleasant and sometimes frightening hallucinations

Risks:

  • Accidents (when intoxicated)
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Unpleasant or “bad” trips
  • Poisoning (If the wrong type of mushroom is picked and consumed)
  • Flashbacks

Harm reduction advice:

  • Start with a low dose. Trips can last for hours and once you have taken the drug you won’t know how strong it is until the effects begin to be felt.
  • Use with people you know, trust and feel comfortable with.
  • Don’t use if you are worried or depressed, this will increase your chances of experiencing a “bad trip”
  • Try to use magic mushrooms in a calm, safe environment, especially if you are new to them.
  • Consider having a friend along who isn’t using. They will be able to offer comfort and support to somebody experiencing a bad trip.
  • If somebody becomes distressed after taking magic mushrooms and can’t be calmed by talking to them in a calm and supportive manner consider requesting medical treatment.

 

Cannabis

AKA – Weed/Grass/Green/Wacky Backy(Your Parents)

Cannabis is a psychoactive plant which has been used in many cultures for thousands of years. It is a mildly hallucinogenic depressant drug although in lower doses and depending on the user, people may experience some stimulant-type effects, as with other depressant drugs. It is generally found in 3 forms, herbal cannabis includes the leaves and stems of the cannabis plant, skunk refers to the unfertilized buds of the female plant and hash is the processed resin of the cannabis plant. More rarely, cannabis oil can be found. There are 2 active compounds in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)and Cannabiniol. The relative amounts of the 2 compounds found in any given strain will determine the strength. Cannabis is usually smoked in a cigarette rolled with tobacco (spliff/joint) and can be smoked in a pipe or bong. It can also be eaten or inhaled using a vaporizer.

Effects:

The effects of cannabis vary greatly depending on the strain used, how it is used and the person using it. The main effects of cannabis are:

  • Feeling drowsy
  • Happiness
  • Pleasant confusion
  • Increased appreciation of art and music
  • Mild auditory and visual hallucinations (pleasant or not)
  • Giggles
  • Hunger (Munchies)
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Palpitations
  • Nausea and Vomiting (Whitey)
  • Risks
  • Accidents and falls
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Cannabis Psychosis
  • Lung damage
  • Cancer
  • Relapse of pre existing mental health conditions
  • Psychological dependence

Staying Safe:

  • Cannabis is carcinogenic, as is tobacco. Inhaling cannabis through a vaporizer will expose your lungs to less damage as the active compounds vaporize without causing smoke to be inhaled.
  • Try not to smoke daily; this will increase your chances of developing lung problems or a psychological dependence
  • Cannabis can be very demotivating for some people. Don’t use if you are busy or have a deadline to meet.
  • Don’t drive after smoking cannabis.
  • If you are somebody who is pre disposed to suffering from anxiety or hearing voices and these conditions get worse after smoking then you probably need to reconsider your cannabis use.
  • Try to use with people you know and trust to reduce your chances of experiencing anxiety/ panic attacks.

 

Alcohol

AKA – Gargle/Cans/Pints

Alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol) is a depressant drug found in thousands of drinks which can vary from about 4% to 60% in strength. It is one of the oldest known drugs in existence and has been used by different cultures for thousands of years.

Effects:

The effects of alcohol are dependent on many factors, including the amount consumed, the environment in which it is taken and the person who is taking it.

In lower doses drinkers may feel:

  • Relaxed
  • Chatty
  • More animated
  • More social
  • Giddy

In higher doses drinkers might experience:

  • A lack of coordination
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor judgement
  • Some people might become more emotional or aggressive after drinking alcohol.

Risks:

In the short term risks can involve:

  • Accidents or falls
  • Arguments or fights
  • Unsafe sexual practice
  • Nausea and sickness
  • Dehydration (leading to hangover)
  • If used in large enough quantities alcohol can cause death due to its toxicity.

Longer term risks can be:

  • Physical and psychological dependence
  • Increased risks of a range of cancers
  • Liver damage
  • Diabetes

Harm reduction advice:

  • The government recommend that an adult male should not consume more than 3-4 units a day and an adult female 2-3 units a day. A pint of 5% lager contains 2.8 units.
  • Try not to drink daily, this increases your risk of dependence. Try to have at least 2 alcohol free days a week.
  • Know who you’re drinking with and have a plan for getting home safely.
  • Try to alternate between alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks on a night out.
  • If somebody collapses or passes out after drinking put them in the recovery position* and call for medical assistance. Stay with them until you know they are safe.

#LiveToDanceAnotherDay

 

Information from The Loop/Wikipedia

*You can watch a two-minute video on how to put someone in the recovery position here.

 

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