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87% of Music Festival Goers Plan to Use Drugs in 2024

A recently updated study shows that cannabis, psychedelics, and cocaine are the drugs of choice among music festival-goers.

DoubleBlind Mag

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We’re in the thick of festival season. Music enthusiasts throughout the Northern Hemisphere are meticulously planning their festie squads, perfecting their outfits, and choosing which drugs will pair best with each performance. But getting high at music festivals comes with some inherent risks. So, how can you avoid a substance-related mishap if you choose to indulge, and is there any research to reference?

Thankfully, there is! The 2024  Drug Safety at Music Festivals study (conducted by the research group Innerbody) just dropped, which provides new insights into the consumption-fueled behaviors and intentions of festival-goers. It also highlights some harm reduction strategies for ensuring safety for those who choose to partake in extra-curriculars at these events.

The study, based on a survey of 900 festival lovers, reveals that approximately 87 percent of people who attend festivals intend to use drugs, marking a 10 percent rise from the previous year’s figures.

READ: What the “Psychedelic Renaissance” Needs to Learn from Big Tobacco

The study shows that attendees party with cannabis the most, with a whopping 65.3 percent saying they plan to get stoned at festivals this year. The survey’s authors suggest that the widespread legalization of adult-use cannabis across the US may make it a less risky option for attendees. While alcohol is typically the most consumed substance at festivals, this study excludes drinks from its scope. 

Cocaine ranked as the second most popular choice at 46.5 percent, followed by psychedelics—LSD, mushrooms, DMT—at 26.1 percent. MDMA came next at 19.4 percent, closely followed by ketamine at 19.3 percent. Other substances included amphetamines at 13.7 percent, opioids at 12.1 percent, benzodiazepines came in at 10.1 percent, synthetic drugs such as bath salts or spice are listed at 9.7 percent, hallucinogens like salvia or peyote at 6.1 percent, and inhalants, such as nitrous at 6 percent. 

More festival-goers are planning to use cocaine this year compared to last year, while 2 percent fewer people intend to use opioids. This decrease is notable given the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, and the study’s authors report this as an “encouraging” trend.

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In terms of which music events attract the most drug use, the study found that rock, hip-hop, and EDM festivals are the most likely to have attendees under the influence of drugs. Wisconsin’s Rock Fest topped the list for the most anticipated drug use, while Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert ranked second, followed by Coachella in third place.

The study also found that only 32.6 percent bring their own drugs, while the remaining 67.4 percent purchase them at the event. This is a notable shift from last year, when 46 percent planned to bring their own drugs. Millennials were identified as the generation most likely to buy drugs at the venue rather than in advance.

The report also looked at drug-checking behaviors. A significant majority—80.3 percent—test their drugs before attending the event, which is up from approximately 67 percent in 2023.

​“This increase in testing could be due to more awareness surrounding the U.S. opioid crisis and the public education efforts that have taken place,” the authors note. “But while the data is encouraging, it still reflects the reality that 20% of festival goers could be taking potentially dangerous drugs at concerts.”

The most common place attendees hide their drugs is in backpacks and pockets. Researchers found that people usually take drugs in one of three spots: in the bathroom (29%), in the crowd (31%), or right outside the festival gates (33%).

READ: The Best Psychedelic Festivals Around the World

While drug testing is becoming more common, the study points out that over half of the people who took drugs at music festivals suffered from some kind of health issue that required medical attention. The most commonly reported problems were heat stroke, bad trips, and dehydration.

The survey also found that drug use often led festival-goers to engage in riskier behavior. 66 percent of both Gen Z and Millennial respondents admitted to having sex with strangers at festivals, which was more common among Millennials. Additionally, one in four Millennials reported “driving dangerously” after the festival ended.

The authors highlight that the best ways to reduce harm are by abstaining from drugs altogether or testing drugs before using them. However, most festival goers reported that their main safety measure was educating themselves about drugs, their risks, and potential side effects. The next most common strategy was starting with a low dosage, followed by drug testing.

“Being aware of your surroundings, remaining close to your friends, keeping hydrated, and familiarizing yourself with the location of medical tents are also easy and practical ways to help stay safe at music festivals,” authors said.

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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