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Harm reduction services make a huge difference at festivals, new study reveals

It’s no secret about what goes on at music festivals. But, there are plenty of groups whose mission is drug harm reduction and a new study reveals that it’s making a huge difference in the community. There are have been multiple articles written about harm reduction, and even tons of news coverage on the topic. Earlier this year, filmmaker Le Liu released a film, The Last Dance, that covered harm reduction and its effects on the festival community. Even boutique music festivals like Shambala are paving the way with their cutting-edge harm reduction efforts to keep festival-goers safe.

Now, a study from the International Journal of Drug Policy looked at the impact of harm reduction services on the user’s behavior after their substance was tested. This study took place at Boom Festival 2016 in Portugal.

The study consisted of 753 drug samples that were submitted during the festival for testing. Users were asked to fill out a pre and post-analysis survey.


86 samples tested differently from what the users expected. 94.2% of the users reported that they would not take the drug.

41 samples contained “the expected substance plus adulterants.” 32% of users reported that they would not take the drug.

Lastly, 370 samples tested to contain only the expected substance. 98% of users reported they would take the drug.

The results are conclusive: users can manage their drug use more responsibly when the exact contents are known. These services help users make more informed decisions and provide a safer experience for everyone.

It’s important to note that these services aren’t around to condone illegal drug use. They are implemented to save lives and educate users. So call them what they are: Vital, life-saving services.

In 2002, the RAVE Act was passed that drastically affected the festival community. The purpose of the act was “to prohibit an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for another purpose.” This act makes services like Bunk Police, the Zendo Project, Dance Safe and many more operations illegal. They cannot be on festival grounds on the US and most of them now operate in secret. Because of this, many people are taking time out of their festival experience to protest the RAVE Act and bring knowledge of harm reduction to the forefront.

Harm reduction groups:
Dance Safe
Bunk Police