Future strategies

Pill testing

Pill testing is becoming increasingly common at music festivals and events around the world, and pill testing organisations and not-for-profits currently provide services throughout Europe, the U.S and Canada.

Crowd at a concert

A recent trial in Australia demonstrated positive results, showing that only 43% of the substances tested contained significant amounts of the substance that the patron expected, the other 57% containing significant levels of other chemical agents.32 

Around 40% of patrons who engaged in the pill testing trial chose to moderate their behaviour as a result of these findings, either stating that they would take less of the substance or would not take the substance at all.33

Harm reduction

Pill testing stations also provide another outlet for the dissemination and reiteration of harm reduction messaging. While this trial has shown positive impacts on substance use within the event environment, there is still significant legislative and political debate about the use of pill testing on a broader scale in Australia.

History has demonstrated that no matter the level of deterrence-based policy that is implemented around substance use at events, there will still be a proportion of people who consume substances. This results in an increased risk of harm, including potential overdose, at these events.

Harm reduction strategies play a key role in reducing the adverse impacts of substance use at these events. Evidence based methods should be a focus of event organising and planning to reduce harm associated with substance use.

ADF services

  1. ‘The Principles of Harm Reduction’ Harm Reduction Coalition
  2. NIDA for Teens, 2015, ‘Concerts and Drugs: Is there a way to reduce the Dangers’ National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015.
  3. Miller, B, Holder, H, Voas, R, ‘Environmental Strategies for Prevention of Drug use and Risks in Clubs’ Journal of Substance Misuse, 14 (1), 2009.
  4. Smirnov A, Najman J, Hayatbakhsh R, Plotnikov M, Wells H, Legosz M & Kemp R, ‘Young Adults’ trajectories of ecstasy use:
    A population Based Study’ Addictive Behaviour, Vol 38, 2013.
  5. Miller et al, 2009, op. cit.
  6. Day N, Criss J, Griffiths B, Gujral SK, John-Leader F, Johnston J & Pit S, ‘Music Festivals Attendees’ illicit drug use, knowledge
    and practices regarding drug content and purity: a cross sectional survey’ Harm Reduction Journal, 15 (1), 2018
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Canberra, 2017.
  8. Huges C, Moxham-Hall V, Ritter A, Weatherburn D & MacCoun R, ‘The Deterrent effects of Australian street-level
    drug law enforcement on illicit drug offending at outdoor music festivals’ International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol 41, 2017.
  9. Day et al, 2018 op. cit.
  10. Ibid
  11. ‘Drug Facts: Ecstasy’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  12. Ibid
  13. ‘Drug use at music festivals’ Recovery.org, 2017
  14. ‘Drug Facts: Amphetamines’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  15. ‘Drug Facts: Ecstasy’ Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018
  16. Makkai T, Macleod M, Vumbaca G, Hill P, Caldicott D, Noffs M, Tzanetis S, Hansen F, Report on Canberra GTM Harm Reduction Service, Harm Reduction Australia, 2018.
  17. Recovery.org, 2017 op. cit.
  18. Makkai T, Macleod M, Vumbaca G, Hill P, Caldicott D, Noffs M, Tzanetis S, Hansen F, Report on Canberra GTM Harm Reduction Service, Harm Reduction Australia, 2018.
  19. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  20. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  21. Sillins, E, Bleeker, AM, Simpson, M, Dillon, P & Copeland, J, 2013, ‘Does peer delivered information at music events reduce ecstacy and methamphetamine use at three month follow up? Findings from a quasi-experiment across three study
    sites’ Journal of Addiction Prevention, Vol 1 (3), 2013.
  22. Smirnov, A, Najman, J, Hayatbakhsh, R, Plotnikov, M, Wells, H, Legosz, M & Kemp, R, 2013, ‘Young Adults’ trajectories of ecstasy use: A population Based Study’ Addictive Behaviour, Vol 38, 2013.
  23. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  24. ‘Code of Practice for running safer music festival and events’ Victorian Department of Health, 2013
  25. Sillins E, Bleeker AM, Simpson M, Dillon P & Copeland J, 2013, ‘Does peer-delivered information at music events reduce ecstacy and methamphetamine use at three month follow up? Findings from a quasi-experiment across three study sites’ Journal of Addiction Prevention, Vol 1 (3), 2013.
  26. Victorian Department of Health, 2011 op. cit.
  27. ‘Keeping Music Festival goers safe through Harm Reduction’ Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, 2014
  28. ’DanceWise’ Harm Reduction Victoria, 2018
  29. ‘save-a-mate’ Australian Red Cross, 2018
  30. St John Ambulance, 2018
  31. Miller et al, 2009 op. cit.
  32. Makkai et al, 2018 op. cit.
  33. Ibid