Staying safer at festivals

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On these pages, you'll find advice on keeping yourself and your friends safe at festivals.

If you want to learn more or have any concerns, contact ru-ok? or check our resources page for more information.

Remember:

  • you don’t need alcohol or drugs to have fun at Pride or a festival - these events are about enjoying who you are and being around good friends you trust
  • most people under 18 do not drink or take drugs and there are particular risks for young people who do this
  • being in possession of drugs is illegal, including at Pride or festivals - you could get arrested
  • festivals are bad places to try something new for the first time - they’re crowded and noisy and could easily make you or your friends react badly, or spin you out

Basic stuff

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  • Look after your mates - make sure they know where you are at all times and if you plan to go off with someone, tell a friend where you are going and who with
  • Arrange a meeting point for you and your friends in case you get split up
  • Make sure your phone has battery and credit
  • Leave your bank card at home - take cash and keep money aside to get home
  • Sunburn sucks - wear a hat and use sunscreen
  • Know what you feel comfortable doing
  • Don’t feel pressured into doing anything you wouldn’t do normally
  • Most people don’t have sex until they are 16 or over, but carrying condoms is a good idea, so you can easily use one if you choose to have sex

 

    Alcohol

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    • Have a good supply of water with you, and drink it in between alcoholic drinks
    • Drink lower percentage alcohol, if drinking all day, for example choose Smirnoff ice (5%) over Vodka (38%) - this will keep you merry but not get you wasted
    • Keep an eye on your friends, and make sure they know where you are at all times
    • Don’t accept drinks from strangers, as spiking can be a risk at festivals
    • Take a set amount of cash out with you and leave your bank card at home
    • If you plan on going off with someone, let a friend know where you are going - don’t feel pressured into doing anything you wouldn’t do when sober

    Drugs

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    • Don’t mix types of drugs - mixing leads more easily to overdose and illness
    • If snorting, use your own straw or paper - don’t use anything shared, including a banknote, as you are at risk of getting Hepatitis B
    • If you have taken something and it feels too intense or scary, tell a friend and find somewhere safe to chill out
    • Drink plenty of water to help your body cope with the drugs - do not drink alcohol with drugs, as this could lead to overdose or illness
    • Don’t buy drugs from people you don’t know - it might be cut with something rubbish and/or dangerous
    • Don’t try something for the first time at a festival - it could spin you out being in such a busy and noisy environment
    • Remember that if you do use at Pride or festivals, it is still illegal and the police could still arrest you

    What to do if it goes wrong

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    • If someone you are with is sick, try to get them to drink some water and sit down somewhere safe and quiet
    • If they're really unwell, call someone you trust who can take them home
    • If someone passes out, call an ambulance, and put the person in the recovery position, make sure they can breathe by checking their airway is clear - don’t leave them and tell the paramedic what the person has taken (if anything) as this will help them know how to help your friend - you won’t get into trouble for telling the truth

    Cannabis myths

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    Illegal drug use carries risks, including police attention. Most young people don’t use cannabis, but a large number do. Using drugs in public increases the risk of being arrested. There are lots of myths about cannabis and its consequences, which can be confusing. Here’s our myth-busting guide:

    Myth 1: Cannabis is harmless

    All drugs carry risks. Because young people are still developing, their brains and bodies are more at risk than adults. And if cannabis is smoked with tobacco it’s even more harmful. There is much research indicating that teenage cannabis use leads to short-term, sometimes long-term, mental health problems.

    Myth 2: Alcohol is a bigger problem than cannabis

    It's true that alcohol is more toxic than cannabis. Locally and nationally many more young people ask services for help with their cannabis use than for any other substance, including alcohol.

    Myth 3: The police turn a blind eye to cannabis

    Young people are regularly stopped, searched, arrested, detained and dealt with for cannabis possession. This has legal consequences, which can include a criminal record, both of which may affect future job opportunities or travel plans.

    Myth 4: Cannabis is good for you

    There’s evidence that cannabis can help a few specific medical conditions, but it isn’t ‘healthy’. Medicinal cannabis is not normally smoked and never so with tobacco. It is never prescribed at the doses that tend to be consumed recreationally. 

    Myth 5: ru-ok? is for drug addicts, they tell you to stop using drugs

    ru-ok? works with young people under 18 who want help in thinking about their substance use. Young people can self-refer. Its workers never tell anyone what to do and plans are set by young people who are offered confidential advice and support. 

    Many young people believe that 'green pride' is an event where cannabis use will be tolerated by the police. This is far from the truth.  Police will be approaching any child or young person whom they believe to be in possession of any drugs and will be taking steps to move them to a place of safety.