Some music festivals now embrace having anti-overdose drug Naloxone on-hand

This is according to the good people over at KHN:

A 26-year-old was found dead at his campsite during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in 2019. The toxicology report linked his death to a grim trend that has only worsened since. In his system were both ecstasy and fentanyl — a dangerous combination, especially if people don’t know the party drug contains the highly potent synthetic opioid.

Attendees of multiday concert festivals like Bonnaroo, held on an isolated farm in Coffee County, Tennessee, don’t seem to have much trouble sneaking pills and powders past security. And those drugs can be laced with fentanyl, which is why medics who work at these events carry the overdose reversal medication naloxone these days. But first responders can’t be everywhere, and the fast-acting drug needs to be administered quickly.

“We are showing up with it in huge quantities,” said Ingela Travers-Hayward, whose Ohio-based nonprofit This Must Be the Place is flooding festivals with Kloxxado, a nasal spray version of the lifesaving medicine. “We want to move around the campground and proactively hand this out.”

Travers-Hayward and her husband, William Perry, who became a rehabilitation counselor after addiction sent him to prison for a decade, are crisscrossing the country this summer distributing doses of Kloxxado that have been donated by the manufacturer, Hikma Pharmaceuticals. Their summer tour wraps up at Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on Labor Day weekend.

Music festivals once frowned upon Naloxone, and some banned it. But even though what’s known as harm reduction — the concept of minimizing the negative effects of illicit drug use without trying to stop it altogether — has gained acceptance, it’s far from embraced. Less accepted than naloxone among concert promoters is helping people test their drugs for fentanyl. Companies don’t want to be seen as condoning drug use.

If you’re staging a music festival that goes on all night (or, for that matter, two or three days) you are already condoning drug use. And making money off of it.

It certainly ain’t coffee keeping all those kids up for that amount of time.

Everyone knows it, but I guess for legal reasons they have to keep up the fiction. Having Naloxone at a festival can be explained away that you’re providing it for drugs people took before they got to the festival. Having fentanyl testing kits acknowledges that your target customers are taking drugs at your event.

I used to be a bouncer at Boston’s largest nightclubs. For 20 years. The things I saw people do while they were high would amaze most people who’ve never worked in that kind of environment.

But when someone was a mess to the point of passing out, our first responsibility was not to call first responders because having first responders show up at your club was a black mark against your license. Too many ambulances and your liquor license could come up for review.

We got them off the dance floor or out of the bathroom or wherever we found them and took them to a back room where we tried to revive them ourselves. I heard of one place in Boston that allegedly used to take them out and put them in the alley behind the club. That was cold.

Boston finally changed the rules so that calling first responders for a medical emergency could not be used against your license.

You can read the article by Blake Farmer (of Nashville Public Radio) at this KHN link.

Rave attendees enjoying their coffee highs.

Leave a Reply