Are you counting down?

Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza and other big music and arts festivals are right around the corner, as the winter fades and leaves fresh ground for people all over the world to celebrate life and culture.

While you eat your magic mushroom-filled sandwich and pop your first molly of the weekend, hydration and a filled stomach are deprioritized and your health remains to be the last thing on your mind in the drug-paradise you enter as soon as security checked your wristband.

But since the festival only lasts for a couple days, you might not see too much wrong with it.

LSU Kinesiology senior instructor Ari Fisher is concerned about the combination of drugs and festival aspects.
LSU Kinesiology senior instructor Ari Fisher is concerned about the combination of drugs and festival aspects. Foto: Markus Hufner

LSU Kinesiology senior instructor Ari Fisher is no fan of drugs, but fully aware of their role in festival culture. Still, his message to create a safe environment is simple.

“Have fun, but don’t overdo it,” Fisher said. “You don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t know what you’re doing.“

However, researchers of the University of Queensland, Jan Packer and Roy Ballantyne argue that it is exactly that situation that attracts young adults.

Feeling pressured and overwhelmed of their daily lives as students and workers, people look for a feeling of disconnection from the world outside of the festival fences, in order to reflect on daily activities, experiences and themselves, while being surrounded by humans of the same mindset.

Packer and Ballantyne continue saying the exposure of diverse music performances can also contribute to a person’s creativity and their feeling of purpose in life, which are positive fundamentals of mental health.

But for many, the quickest way to reach that unique experience remains being drug usage, which can lead to more harm than expected.

Fisher said it is the combination of hard drugs and the usual, already unhealthy aspects of festivals that provide the real threat.

A tight event schedule and festivities at night make sleep deprivation a given for festival-heads. Fisher said lack of sleep already influences a person’s decision-making and immune system, but mixed with psychoactive drugs, the results can be scary.

“It can lead to temporary psychosis or making decisions that you don’t remember the next day,” Fisher said. “Your responsible decision-making is compromised so bad that even engaging in self-harming behaviors is a possibility.”

Psychoactive drugs also enhance dehydration, which already is the most common health threat at festivals, said blogger Lee Tilgham.

Even in a sober state of mind, Tilgham advises to consume at least 18 to 24 oz. of water every hour, due to the climate, the amount of people around you and the physical activity. Drugs come in for Fisher, because of their side effects.

“Psychoactive drugs alter your sense of time and reality,” Fisher said. “You will definitely forget about consuming waters. Under the influence of some drugs you might be able to go two days and not even thinking about it.”

Festivals remain to be unique experiences that benefit our mental health while giving our physical health more of a hard time.

Fisher said being prepared for health issues like forgetting to eat and hydrate under the exposure of constant sunlight is a key factor to leaving the festival area with the same health status you had when you first arrived.

However, he agreed, not accepting drugs from strangers, is the most important.

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