This Is What Twentysomethings Actually Feel About Drug Use At EDM Shows

After recent hospitalizations, we decided to ask.

Sabrina, 20, Tucson, Ariz.
Why are there 14-year-olds rolling at Coachella? Electric Daisy Carnival is only 18 and older because three years ago a girl who was 15 died. [EDM shows] should be 18 and up. So many people are literally just kids doing drugs! I think festivals just want your money, they want you to go crazy. They don’t want you to die, but they like audiences that are [on drugs.] I’ve not taken drugs at shows and it’s been great. People need to know where they get their drugs. People will just go in a tent and say “Who has drugs?!” You shouldn’t buy off randos and should be smart.

Artha, 19, Los Angeles
At Hard Summer it’s not hard to [bring drugs in]. They’ll grab your bra or pat you down. At EDC, they go through all of your stuff. Sometimes people will skip the line if they recognize a specific security guard — 97% of the time people get in with everything. I don’t think security people care that much at EDC. You’ll see people selling things, and there isn’t a big concern over whether or not someone’s OK. The first day at EDC at midnight I saw a guy pulled out on a stretcher and then I heard that someone died there that night. It was really scary because it was my first time. You’ll pass girls who have their eyes rolling back in their heads; that’s not OK. The fact that I didn’t see security at the second biggest [EDM] show in America is a problem. I don’t think EDM could survive without the connection to drugs but it’s such a big part of it, and it’s an unfortunate part.

*Michael, 20, Denver
My friends and I have already done [many drugs] before, so we’re over it. When I go into a show, it’s about seeing the actual artist. But younger kids are riskier — the people who are dying at these shows are younger. I went to this Halloween show called Something Wicked in Houston, and multiple people were collapsing and on stretchers. It was one of those “whoa” moments. When I first started going to EDM shows, it was called electronica. It was a concert that’s now become a party. People come and aren’t even looking at the stage. I don’t think there’s anything to stop people from doing drugs, but there can be a better conversation about informing people. People are going to do [drugs], and you’re only hearing about people getting hurt after it happens.

*Jack, 23, San Jose, Calif.
I have taken MDMA at events. I take it to enhance my experience. Most of the decorations and crazy lights are (in my opinion) meant to be enjoyed by both sober and non-sober people. Anyone who has taken MDMA can attest how great a light show is and how extra-special those fireworks look at EDC while rolling. But no one wants to see a 15-year-old rolling balls being really sloppy, that’s just wrong. Just because you don’t “feel it after taking two pills” doesn’t mean you should take two more. The biggest issue is that people don’t know what they are taking. There are test kits available and they are really easy to use. People should know what MDMA or any other drug does to your body.

Millie, 20, California
AT EDC I saw a girl on a stretcher and I got scared, then I heard two had people died that night. When the lights go on after a show you’ll look and see all the smushed pills in baggies on the floor. People can sneak in anything. Most security guards who are younger, they like the kids. They’ll probably see it and let it slide. Everybody judges these shows before they come to them, though. The vibes around them are so good. I’ve met people I never thought I would meet at these shows. People look up to the DJs and they should tell the audience to be safe, don’t be stupid, before they play.

Christian, 21, Santa Monica
It’s hard to blame the youth for all these overdoses and accidents happening because that stuff happens every day. I do think now that I am 21 and the scene is turning very young it’s up to us veterans to show them the way: to always take care of your fellow humans and be very responsible but also enjoy the time you have too. Venues can do their part too, by educating [fans] more and having water stations at EDM-related events. The artists aren’t really speaking up how they should be. I believe that shows and drugs can co-exist and we can improve that by public service announcements and by educating with testing kits and always having a friend with you when tripping. That is what the DJs should be sponsoring.

John, 25, Los Angeles
I take drugs sometimes. I do it because it’s an enjoyable combination, especially when other people are doing it too. But I do a good job of controlling myself. The only drugs I do contain MDMA. I haven’t had any negative experiences aside from not being able to sleep for a couple hours. Kids under 18 should not be doing drugs, period. They don’t have a sense of control and it’s more likely to cause long-term damage while they’re developing. But people like to do what they’re told not to. The drugs ARE there and they aren’t going anywhere. Another thing that would help is less-strict drugs laws — [which are] obviously not happening — so things are manufactured better.

Sammy, 21, San Francisco
I feel like [drugs at shows] is an inevitability that we all should manage as a community. Sharing water, information, testing kits, and just human caring can be the difference between a fiasco and a show that goes perfectly smoothly. I think there are more artists coming out as very much against drug use at shows, which is both a good and bad thing. I would like to think that taking a harm-reduction point of view (basically acknowledging that there will be some people who choose to do it and educating those folks how to do it in the safest manner) would be the most realistic. I would be beyond shocked if MDMA use disappeared, since it’s so tied to the past of this scene. The artists that come out against drug use and kind of wave their finger at it bother me, since something tells me that they probably engaged in this at some point in their career. So why make it seem as though they are above it?

Justin, 22, Los Angeles
I’m a huge advocate for shows that are 18 and over. With a certain age comes responsibility. I’m not condoning the use of drugs, but there should be risk reduction. There are testing kits online people could use to find out what they’re taking. They cost like, $10. I think security is present [at shows] but they’re just chill. At EDC I would ask people I saw lying on the ground if they were doing OK, but I wish security was doing that, not me. I’d like to think that EDM shows are safer as opposed to other shows, like punk, where people also get injured. People blow up EDM and say it’s an irresponsible scene.

Stephanie, 25, Portland, Ore.
My first-ever EDM show I went to in 2011 I took Molly for the first time. I had never used any other drug besides smoking marijuana. The first time was an unexplainable experience — felt as if there was no worry in my life. I’ve taken Molly/Ecstasy since, at raves, but I don’t enjoy rolling. I can sometimes get mild anxiety or overstimulation from drugs. I truly enjoy the music and don’t feel I need drugs to be fun or enjoy the experience. I am not judgmental to people who do. Now I go to many of these events and am the only sober one in my group. Not everyone abuses drugs. Not everyone goes for the girls, drugs, and the party. EDM is the most accepting scene I’ve ever been a part of. I feel at home at raves.

*Name has been changed.

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