Florida

Music fans’ drugs turn up in the craziest places — from underwear to roasted chicken

Fans dance as confetti sprinkles the crowd during the third day of Ultra Music Festival in downtown Miami on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Fans dance as confetti sprinkles the crowd during the third day of Ultra Music Festival in downtown Miami on Sunday, March 26, 2017. For the Miami Herald

Drugs circulate the most at jam-band music festivals, topping rock, rap and country concerts.

Marijuana is the easiest thing to smuggle into a festival. A cheeky quarter of you are stashing drugs in your underwear — and nearly 90 percent are getting away with it. And EDM festivals, like Ultra, put you in the mood because one in four of you are getting busy — without protection — as the electronic music sizzles your synapses.

These are some of the findings in a new study by the Boca Raton-based Take 5 Media Group. The company did the study for Florida House Experience, a behavioral health treatment facility based in Deerfield Beach that works alongside the University of Miami, Florida International University, Barry University and other medical institutions, said Take 5’s media coordinator, Olivia Bitzonis.

The health center wanted to know what kind of drugs were being purchased at music festivals and from whom, which ones were being cut with potentially lethal additives, and how concert fans were hiding their habits.

Underwear, not surprisingly, was the most popular place to hide drugs. Roasted chickens and prosthetic body parts also found favor with some savvy users.

While ecstasy, aka Molly, is one of the most popular drugs commonly associated with the music scene, it is far from the only substance the 32 million people who attend at least one U.S. music festival a year may be exposed to, Florida House Experience reports.

To learn more, the group surveyed more than 1,000 people across the country about their experiences buying illicit drugs at music festivals, sneaking them in the area, and the potential consequences that followed.

Here’s some of what they learned.

Large crowds streamed into downtown Miami on Friday afternoon trying to get into Ultra Music Festival.

▪ Hey man, do you have any?

Most music festival attendees, 63 percent, scored drugs from a random dealer they met at the festival, far outranking friends who supplied them 25 percent of the time, and their own dealer who must not be happy to learn they were sought out only about 11 percent of the time.

“One of the most concerning elements in the relationship between the music scene and drug abuse for health professionals today are the unidentifiable additions of unmarked and sometimes dangerous substances,” Take 5 said. Drugs sold as Ecstasy, for example, occasionally contain zero traces of MDMA, the primary ingredient that should be present in pure Molly. Studies have found traces of aluminum and glass inside marijuana, and fentanyl in samples of heroin.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently warned about deadly contaminated cocaine in Florida. A yearlong review of cocaine acquired by law enforcement during drug busts across Florida found widespread contamination with fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.

“Beyond being unrecognizable to the naked eye, these cutting agents are sometimes significantly stronger than the drugs they’re labeled as, creating deadly consequences,” Take 5 reported in its study.

▪ Do you like to party?

What are your chances of running into drugs at any given music festival? Turns out Dave Matthews Band fans might run into more illicit substances than DJ Avicii followers at Ultra. Who’d have thought?

DrugsGenre
Boca Raton-based Take 5 Media Group did a study on music festival goers drug habits for Florida House, a behavioral health treatment facility based in Deerfield Beach. Take 5 Media Group

According to the study, if you’re a fan of jam bands and events like the High Sierra Music Festival in California or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage fest, you may find more than just good vibes. Nearly 90 percent of the people polled said they’d been offered drugs at jam band festivals, followed by 80 percent or more of people who had attended EDM and mixed genre shows like Electric Zoo in New York, which, in 2013, was closed prematurely after two concertgoers died from overdoses linked to MDMA and other “party-drugs,” Florida Experience said.

EDM concerts, such as Ultra in Miami, were the next most common festivals where drugs were offered (83 percent), followed by mixed genre (80 percent), rock (77 percent), rap/hip-hop (74 percent) and country (70 percent).

▪ Hidden treasures?

People get creative when concealing drugs from authorities and at security checks set up around venues. Some of the wackier places to hide one’s stash cited by Florida Experience were inside a roasted chicken, in children’s toys and even prosthetic body parts.

Most aren’t trying so hard to sneak in drugs. More than one in four respondents said they simply put the narcotics in their pockets, while nearly as many went just one step further and concealed them in their bras or underwear.

Backpacks were also popular hiding places (19 percent), followed by body orifices including vagina and anus (4 percent), and hair (2 percent).

▪ Risky baby making.

Nearly one in four confessed that they had unprotected sex after drug use at EDM festivals followed, by more than one in five at country music shows. While less common, more than one in 10 men and women attending mixed-genre shows told the treatment center they’d gotten high and fooled around without taking the proper precautions.

▪ Caught redhanded

Nearly 28 percent of the survey’s participants said they had been stopped when they tried to bring methamphetamines into the show, followed by nitrous (26 percent) and opiates (22 percent). Drugs like meth can produce short-term effects including irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and hallucinations, while long-term use may result in violent behavior and anxiety, according to the treatment center.

Speed (21 percent), cocaine (19 percent) and marijuana (11 percent) were next in line in getting festival fans caught.

For more results, go to https://fherehab.com/news/intoxicated-festie-besties/.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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