Drugs & Music – A Deadly Combo on the Rise

January 4, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

Live music has always been a great source to bring a crowd together. As popular are concerts are, in recent years festivals have started to spread across the nation. Throughout all months of the year, you can find music festivals that last anywhere from two to five days. Since they tend to last longer than one day, camping is often involved. This carefree type of environment has surged in popularity among all age groups, but especially with teens and young adults. Unfortunately, it has also become a local hotspot for illegal activities and heavy drug use.

The romanticism of music festivals can date back to the days of Woodstock, which is often considered the real defining moment where music festivals with drugs collided. Woodstock was filled with a peaceful and hippie mindset backed with music, culture, and drugs paired. One of the highlights of Woodstock was that there were no incidents of violence recorded. Instead, there were only busts for illegal drugs. Now the U.S. is home to plenty multi-day music festivals. According to The Recovery Village, there are over 800 festivals in just America alone, with over 30 million attendees each year.

The blasé environment can create a loving, all accepting environment that people get pulled into. However, the downside to this is that it is almost too carefree, where attendees think it’s totally fine to use illegal substances. Drugs at festivals have become so commonplace that people don’t think twice about witnessing drug use take place. It’s so common that the people who are not taking illegal drugs have become the minority. This can cause a real concern, especially for parents of young teens who attend such festivals.

It’s important to take a look at all the festivals that take place in Florida, along with the types of drugs found at these events. This way both parents and teens have a better understanding of the consequences that occur when caught with any illegal substances.

Music Festivals in Florida

While music festivals of all genres take place across the nation, one genre in particular has taken over in popularity, and drug abuse. Electronic dance music (EDM) is created from music-making software and focuses on fast paced beats, that are meant to get attendees’ hearts pumping. These festivals take on an environment similar to European raves, where drugs are known to run rampant. The danger of these types of events come from the nature of it being unregulated and overcrowded.

Due to Florida’s year-long warm climate, it is an extremely popular spot for multi-day festivals. Some of the most common music festivals where there’s a danger of drug use include the following:

  • Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC)
  • Ultra Music Festival
  • Okeechobee Music Festival
  • Sunset Music Festival

Typical Drugs Found at Music Festivals

Music and drugs have gone hand in hand for years, and if anything, it has only gotten worse with the younger generations. People who attend multi-day music festivals are known to partake in drinking and drugs for all the days, often referred to as a “bender.” Some attendees claim that certain drugs enhance the experience of a music festival, claiming it provides an exaggerated sensory experience. People may use drugs at a festival to intensify the show, keep the stamina of partying, or just to experiment.

The following is a list of common drugs found at music festivals:

  • Alcohol – while alcohol is legal to those over the age of 21, it can still be extremely dangerous if abused. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can help people socialize and dance in a crowded setting. However, it can have serious health risks if it’s taken in high quantities. There is also an extreme risk if festival attendees drink and drive. A DUI is a very serious offense in Florida and has harsh consequences such as high fines and potential jail time. 
  • Ecstasy – Also referred to as MDMA or “Molly”, this is a synthetic drug that creates an increased sensory perception, increased energy, emotional warmth, and a distorted sense of time. It is popular because people feel a closer connection to the people around them, feel the energy to dance, and have the stamina to be out and dance for long periods of time. However, there are severe health issues that come with taking ecstasy, such as harsh come downs and the risk of heart attacks.
  • Marijuana – Also referred to as cannabis, pot, or weed; The plant can be ingested through smoking, vaping, or made into food called “edibles”. The compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) creates a relaxed feeling of Euphoria. Some people also claim it creates an anxious and paranoid feeling. Although some states have made marijuana legal recreationally, it is still considered illegal in Florida and can have serious legal consequences if caught with a certain amount. 
  • Cocaine/Crack – Both crack and cocaine are stimulant drugs that create feelings of happiness and high energy. There is a hypersensitivity to senses, and the high level of energy is typically used in a party environment such as music festivals. There are intense crashes or “come downs” that come with ingesting either drug, and many users re-dose or “binge” to try to avoid the crashing feeling, which can lead to serious health implications.
  • LSD – Also known as acid, this is a hallucinogenic drug which makes people see, hear, or feel things that may not really be there. Along with hallucinations are switches in moods. LSD is highly popular among music festival-goers, because of the feeling that you have lost touch with reality. There are serious consequences of taking LSD, such as a person putting themselves in potentially harmful scenarios since they have no sense of reality.

Risks of Using Drugs at Festivals

The different risks for drug use depend on the type of drug in use, and the quantity. However, here is a list of negative side effects of drugs commonly found at music festivals:

  • Dehydration
  • Hyperthermia
  • Heatstroke
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiovascular issues, such as having a stroke
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia (can be referred to as a “bad trip” when on LSD, can be the fear of losing oneself or sense of reality)
  • Poor judgement
  • Overdose/death

In addition to these risks, there is also the risk that the drugs taken are not exactly what they claim to be. Drugs can come laced with other chemicals that can be extremely dangerous to the human body. Even if a dealer at a festival claims their item is “pure” there is still a chance it is laced with some other substance. This can cause any of the above risks, as well as potential death. A prime example of this is Florida’s rampant problem with fentanyl- laced marijuana. If you would like to read more about this issue, you can do so here.

Another huge risk of taking drugs at a music festival is the legal aspect. None of the drugs listed above are legal in the state of Florida. This means that if someone were to be stopped by the police and these drugs were found on them, they would be arrested. Florida is extremely harsh when it comes to penalties for drug use. The consequences depend on the different drug classifications—ranging from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. You can read more about the penalties of the different drug Schedules here. 

What are Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse?

Although it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint if a person is actively on drugs, there are a few telltale signs. It is true that the longer or more frequently you abuse drugs, the higher your body’s tolerance is to it. As the tolerance continues to grow, there is a higher dosage needed to receive the previous feelings from the substance. The more noticeable symptoms of drug use are based on the physiological processes and can be shown through changes in physical appearance.

The following is a list of potential signs of drug abuse:

  • Glazed or bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drastic changes in weight
  • Skin and dental issues
  • Issues with sleeping too much or too little

It’s important to note that these signs change depending on the substance or method of drug use.

Scary Statistics

A study done from 2011 shows the number of emergency hospital visits involving ecstasy/MDMA from music festivals has doubled since 2004.

When pill testing started to become more popular at festivals, a study from 2010 to 2015 showed that MDMA was actually only present in a little over half of the samples that were sold as Ecstasy.

When it comes to cocaine, DAWN has a 2011 report that shows cocaine was the reason for 505,224 annual emergency room visits.

Although alcohol is legal over the age of 21, it does not mean it is synonymous with being safe. In fact, a study shows that alcohol abuse is in the third top leading causes of preventable deaths in America. Within one year over 75,000 people in America die from alcohol abuse.


Reaching out for help is a step in the right direction when you feel like you have been abusing drugs. Even if you feel like there is nowhere to turn, there are drug abuse hotlines that can provide resources for treatment options like behavioral therapy, 12 step programs, contingency management, as well as medication potentially useful to get off drugs. The following is a list of resources if you wish to seek help in stopping drug abuse:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – This is the national agency dedicated to the prevention of drug use, and the treatment of existing drug problems. They offer 24/7 help in finding local treatment centers. You can call them at 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357).
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – A confidential service for people and their families that have faced substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Contact 1(800) 662-4357 for help.
  • Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – A hotline designated for providing information to parents who are concerned about their children using drugs. It is not a crisis line, but you can receive helpful information about drug use, prevention, and treatment. You can reach them at 1(855) 378-4373.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee Florida

Attending a music festival can be an extremely fun experience. Listening to music outdoors, bonding with friends, camping outside. All of these things equal a good time. However, a fun time can turn extremely dangerous if drugs become involved. It is a danger not only to your health, but also to your freedom. If you get caught with drugs at a festival, there are serious consequences.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a drug crime, the first step should be reaching out to a knowledgeable defense attorney in your area. Getting expert advice on how to defend your case is imperative. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have the experience and skill to provide top quality defense. They have what it takes to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 today for a free consultation regarding your case.

 Written by Karissa Key

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