Music festivals can be very joyous and fun occasions, providing the opportunity to hear favorite bands and experience community in a new, exciting atmosphere. However, often these festivals are not only about the music itself, but also places for high levels of alcohol and drug use.
Many people take advantage of the festival's commonly out of the way location or a long weekend away from responsibilities to engage in drug use and other high-risk behaviors. In July, 2013, more then 70 people in Gorge, Washington suffered from drug overdoses at the Paradiso Festival, and one man died.
Being outside all day in the middle of summer, music festivals attendees are already often at serious risk for dehydration, which is made life threatening with the combination of dangerous substances. So sobriety can be an especially smart decision. Here are a few pointers about how to stay sober in an environment that sometimes makes it difficult.
Look for supportive communities of people also being sober
As with life outside the festival, recovery is something you are not alone in, and there is a community filled with many people able to help you. Bring along a group of friends who are committed to being sober together. If someone does become insistent on selling or giving away drugs, it can help to have a group of people working to protect each other.
Although at first glance it may seem like everyone is drinking and using drugs around you, many festivals have groups of people in recovery who find and support each other. Coachella and Bonarroo both offer their own "Soberchella" and "Soberoo," 12-step style support groups that meet in the middle of festival, encouraging each other and finding ways to enjoy the festival without using.
One tip from sober music fans who set up their own "Soberball" at the Governor's Ball Music Festival – look for a tent with a yellow balloon, a common symbol for people who want to enjoy the music together and support each other in sobriety.
Remind yourself that you want to have a memorable experience
While people struggling with an addiction may have a difficult time imaging a fun or fulfilling life without their substance, the truth is that the world is filled with many things that can be enjoyed just by experiencing them directly. Sobriety allows a clear head to be truly mindful of your experience, to truly take in the sight, sounds, and community of the event.
By simply trying to enjoy the experience on its own terms, you can realize that drugs or drunkenness isn't needed to have a good time.
Be aware that you may be in a drug-friendly setting, and have a plan to avoid relapse
Before you go, be prepared that it's possible someone might try to encourage or even coerce you into drinking or trying drugs. In recovery, you made a commitment to be sober. Reaffirm that in your own mind, and keep your mind focused on that commitment.
Also, be creative in finding ways to handle situations, thinking about them ahead of time. Find a favorite non-alcoholic drink, and have it in your hand. Most people will simply leave you alone and respect your own choice, but just in case, keep a very careful eye on it and hold on to it at all times, so no one slips you drugs without your knowledge.
Also come up with an escape plan, if the pressure ever gets to be too much. Find a safe place you can be alone, where you can call a supportive friend, or do something to get the craving off your mind. Whatever you decide, know that with a little pre-planning, and the right attitude, it is possible to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. Sobriety can only enrich how you will experience it.