Bonnaroo. Coachella. Lollapalooza. These are just a few of the favorite music festivals in America. Thousands flock to the festivals to watch their favorite music-makers on center stage.

There is also a lot of substance abuse. As a result, there are some tragic incidents.

For somebody in the first stages of restoration and beginning days of sobriety, music festivals can tempt fate. To improve the odds of eluding relapse, make sure to talk to a trusted adviser before — and after — you attend.

Jerry Nelson is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Busy on assignment, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at [email protected] and join the half-million or so that follow him on Twitter @ Journey_America

Festival season will soon be kicking it into overdrive. The giant entertainment venues are not all fun in the sun, though. There is guidance available.

The Canadian Center for Substance Abuse (CCSA) has published a new study meant to prevent drug and alcohol related issues at festivals.

Drafted after a meeting in 2015 between experts from varied fields such as health promotion, harm reduction, toxicology and substance abuse, the report recommends several safety guidelines be put in place at music festivities in North America.

“We really need to have clear, sound guidelines to ensure that if people get into trouble, they have a path out of that trouble,” CCSA researcher Matthew Young said.

The report discusses four broad topics, including:

Event Organization

This section of the report lists relationship building between the community stakeholders and festival organizers. Also discussed is the need for adequate hydration and sanitation services as well as the sharing of knowledge about drug risks in and around the festival environment.

Health Promotion

The second section targets priorities including the need for safe, or “chill spaces”, separate from the crowd, the disbursement of non-judgmental substance abuse messaging and drug-testing services and other health materials such as the noise canceling ear plugs, syringes and sunscreen.

Mass Gathering Medicine

This section talks about the need for adequate medical support and drug-related behavior. The collaborative research is aimed at improving intervention and consistent training for medical teams at the festival site.


The need for enforcement and event security discusses an improved security policy as well as the need for interventions based on need, resources and urgency.

The call for improved handling of substance-related injuries at music celebrations follows several deaths which occurred at music entertainments in summer 2014.

Most Popular Drugs

Drugs most popular at music galas include:


Also known as MDMA or ecstasy


The most regularly used drug in America, marijuana is allowed in some states and still illegal in most.


Made from the South American coca plant, cocaine has been used for everything from anesthesia to weight-loss. In America, cocaine is used recreationally and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of addictions.

Don’t let the drug scene at music festivities mess up your life forever. Drug addiction can often develop with only a few uses.

Develop a plan with a counselor for your successful recovery.