Drug harm-reduction campaign for music festivals

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The HSE is to roll out a drug harm-reduction campaign for fans at music events — starting with the Body & Soul festival this weekend.

Its National Social Inclusion Office will have a team on site at the Westmeath festival to talk about drug trends and harm-reduction practices with attendees, and it says festival medics have been trained on emerging drug trends and substances in advance of the event.

Dr Eamon Keenan, from HSE’s national clinical lead-addiction services, stressed the risks associated with mixing drugs.

“We are aware that young people mix drugs, and of certain trends related to this, such as mixing cocaine and ketamine,” said Dr Keenan.

We are also aware that young people are using newer drugs such as 2-CB. Ireland ranks third highest for the use of cocaine in Europe and second for the use of MDMA, after the Netherlands.

“We are particularly concerned in relation to high potency MDMA and other drugs that are circulating in Europe.

“We anticipate these trends for festival season, but mixing drugs, even with alcohol, increases your risk of adverse consequences or overdosing.

“Never mix drugs, and if you begin to feel unwell, do not be afraid to get help and be honest with emergency services about what was taken, they are there to help,” he said.

Nicki Killeen, from HSE’s national social inclusion office, said messages will be promoted online, as well as in universities, nightclubs, and at festivals.

“It is important that the messages reach people in the lead up to festivals so that they are familiar with our messages before inhibitions are lowered and they can implement our advice before substances are consumed,” she said.

As part of the campaign, the HSE and Trinity College will research festival drug trends, health and sexual wellbeing, preferred music genres, and if people would use drug-testing facilities at festivals.

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