Lately in the media, there have been many misconceptions and half-truths mixed in about overdoses and how they relate to the electronic dance music culture. Tragically this hit far too close to home for us with the most recent cancellation of the second day of our beloved Freaknight due to a death that was attributed to MDMA. It is incredibly sad that one of our own will no longer be able to enjoy the music we love on this plane. What we can do is use the recent events to have a bigger conversation surrounding the circumstances in order to avoid more tragedies like this in the future. The conversation Missi held was pretty incredible, including clearly calling out the good work done by our friends on the Conscious Crew and educating on just how harmful the RAVE act (which you can sign a petition to repeal here) has been to the harm reduction cause.
One of the largest themes that came out of the discussion was testing kits. Are they legal? How do I use them correctly? Where do I get one? Why don’t the festivals in the US follow Shambhala’s harm reduction example and offer testing stations? Missi tackled the questions fearlessly and shared some things that even some of our veterans at DMNW heard for the first time. Also offering insanely helpful information was a user by the name of “metroid23” who was both a volunteer at Shambhala and an active member of another one of our local favorites, Stay Safe Seattle.
They are a model for how to implement harm reduction at large-scale events! It’s a beautiful thing! -Missi on Shambhala
Unfortunately due to the RAVE act, which you should totally read up on if you didn’t heed my advice above, promotors currently shy away from offering testing kits at their shows. However, Missi and us agree that one of the best things you can do is ensure that you and your friends have a few testing kits so that you can make an informed decision on what you’re going to take before you find out it wasn’t what you were expecting the hard way. metroid23 chimed in on this to help the AMA participants learn how to test correctly, as an improper test can lead to the same kind of bad experience they seek to prevent.
The tests (in case you’re not familiar) use acids and will quickly eat through pretty much anything and can become quite the hazard if not handled properly. You have to have good light, a porcelain (or similar acid-resistant surface) for testing, and a way to properly dispose of the results. – metroid23
While one of the main focuses of harm reduction is testing, there is so much more to a holistic approach, and Missi articulated it beautifully. Along with knowing what you’re ingesting it’s also crucial to know about the after effects and plan and adjust accordingly.
It’s important to recognize the importance health promotion and education plays in keeping people safe and saving lives. Harm reduction is like a book and drug checking (adulterant screening, test kits) is just one chapter. We must not forget all of the other environmental issues, behaviors, or factors that play a role in our overall health outcomes. -Missi
Being safe at festivals and shows is something we wish for you all. We refuse to take a head in the sand approach to substance use, and rather wish that you make an informed decision about how you plan to enhance your experience. Our community is a beautiful one, and every time a death happens that could have been avoided we are saddened that one of our bright lights was extinguished. It would be impossible to recap all of the wisdom shared in Missi’s AMA, so please take the time to read the whole thing. There is an incredible amount of information contained within the thread that will save countless lives in our community.
- For more information about DanceSafe: http://www.dancesafe.org
- To purchase a testing kit: http://www.dancesafe.org/shop/
- For information about Stay Safe Seattle: https://www.facebook.com/StaySafeSeattle
- To watch USC’s The Message about harm reduction: http://www.uscevents.com/themessage/
- For even more information about the RAVE Act: https://www.amendtheraveact.org
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