Kids are heading back to school, which means the music-festival season is just about finished. Thankfully, a wave of drug overdoses that authorities feared would come with the 2018 summer's parties has not materialized.
The dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl is still only turning up in a minority of samples of party drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, (as opposed to large percentages of drugs sold as heroin that have been found to contain fentanyl). But the numbers of party-drug samples that authorities have found containing fentanyl have increased each year for several years now.
Earlier this summer, Canada's federal government issued a warning specifically for music lovers who planned on attending a festival this summer. "While celebrating, it is important to keep safety in mind, especially if you or someone you know chooses to use drugs or alcohol," reads a Health Canada media release.
There is some good news for people intending to take drugs at this season's final round of parties: so far, music festivals across Canada have not seen a spike in drug-overdose deaths that the government was worried they might. Last June, one man died of a suspected drug overdose at Montebello Rockfest in Quebec, but he appears to be the only overdose fatality that's occurred at a music festival in Canada during the summer of 2018.
In addition, the 2018 edition of Shambhala, one of the longest-running electronic music festivals in B.C., saw zero drug samples collected during the four-day event test positive for fentanyl, according to the online news outlet Dance Music Northwest. That compares to more than two dozen samples testing positive for fentanyl at Shambhala the previous year.
Music festivals across North America are integrating harm-reduction services into their operations with increasing regularity. Last month, for example, Vancouver's Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) and the Health Initiative for Men (HIM) teamed up to offer drug testing at this year's Pride celebrations. And last year, the Veld Music Festival in Toronto amended rules to allow ticketholders to bring naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, onto event grounds.