Entertainment Festivals

Sunday 16 December 2018

'The worry we have is that MDMA is stronger than ever' - 185 people seek help after using drugs or alcohol at Electric Picnic

The Ana Liffey tent at Electric Picnic
The Ana Liffey tent at Electric Picnic

Rachel Farrell

Some 139 people sought help after taking drugs and alcohol during the second day of Electric Picnic, a confidential service based at the festival has said.

The concerned festival goers linked in with the Ana Liffey tent at Electric Picnic for advice on drug use.

Some 63 males and 76 females in their late teens and early twenties linked in with confidential service between 8am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday.

This brings the total number seeking help at the tent over the festival weekend so far to 185.

CEO of Ana Liffey Tony Duffin told Independent.ie that anxiety and adverse reactions to drug use were among the common topics of conversation.

“A number of people came to the Welfare Tent to be in a safe space due to experiencing adverse reactions to the drugs they had taken,” he said.

“Heightened states of anxiety were common amongst this group of people. Ana Liffey volunteers supported each person until their situation improved and they were able to leave safely.”

At least 46 people checked in with the tent during the first 24 hours of Electric Picnic.

The Ana Liffey tent is located at the Welfare tent in the Jimi Hendrix campsite this year.

Some 24 males sought help from Ana Liffey for drug use and sexual health between 8.30am on Friday and 8.30am on Saturday, Independent.ie has learned.

Some of the popular drugs this year include MDMA, LSD and cocaine - but alcohol was also among the majority, particularly among women.

“We’re talking excessive alcohol use. It’s one of the big issues this year as it’s legal in comparison to other drugs,” CEO of Ana Liffey Tony Duffin told Independent.ie yesterday.

“There were other drugs as well but they were the majority, some people are using ketamine also.

“The worry we have is that MDMA this year is stronger than ever.”

Most of the people that presented to the tent on Friday and Saturday morning were between the ages of 18 and 21, Mr Duffin says.

The tent is also providing sexual health advice to the young adults and handing out condoms.

The staff don’t provide drug checking, but this is something they would like to see introduced to festivals here in the near future.

“We would advocate for it, it would help to find out what’s in the drugs people are taking,” Mr Duffin said.

“It would be beneficial to us as we can respond to what’s in front of us, so that’s something we would like to see.”

The organisation's key message is that it’s safer not to take drugs, but if you do decide to use drugs to remember the following factors:

1. Know your source

2. Avoid using alone

3. Start with a small test dose and leave at least two hours between use

4. Use one drug at a time and never mix with alcohol

5. Don’t share drug paraphernalia

6. Carry condoms

Meanwhile, the medical tent located at the Jimi Hendrix campsite, reported a number of heat related issues over the course of the day.

“We’ve seen some people fainting from the heat because it’s so hot outside,” a member of the medical tent team told Independent.ie.

“We’ve also had a lot of people come in for sun cream because they’re getting sunburn.”

Other injuries reported to medical staff included drug-induced issues and vomiting from alcohol.

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