HSE issues drug harm-reduction information for attendees at music festivals

28 August 2019

There has been a significant increase in the strength of MDMA/Ecstasy across Europe in recent years 

The HSE wants people to stay safe this festival season. The message is clear: the HSE does not condone drug use and it is always safer not to use drugs at all. However, we need to be realistic and acknowledge that festivals are risk-taking settings where people may try drugs for the first time or try new types of drugs. This harm-reduction information is to keep people as safe as possible.

Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE’s National Clinical Lead-Addiction Services, says:

“The HSE is aware that across Europe in the last couple of years there has been a significant increase in the strength of MDMA/Ecstasy, which means increased risks for users. This is likely to be reflected in Ireland also. If you do decide to take drugs, you should be aware of this issue and you can access our harm-reduction advice around festivals at www.Drugs.ie/festivals. One of our key messages here is ‘Start low, go slow’, reflecting this likely increase in the strength of MDMA/Ecstasy. If you feel unwell after taking any substance, go immediately to the Medical Tent and be honest with the medical staff about what you have taken. They are not there to judge, only to help.”

The main harm-reduction advice from experts is:

  1. Start low and go slow.  Start with a very small dose and see how you react to the drug. Wait at least 2 hours before taking more.
  2. Leave the mixing to the DJ. Mixing drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication, increases your risk of becoming unwell or overdosing.
  3. Keep cool and stay hydrated. Sip water but don’t drink over a pint an hour. Take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
  4. Don’t be afraid to get help. Especially if you or a friend becomes unwell or feels suicidal after using drugs. Be honest with emergency services about what was taken, they are there to help.
  5. Visit www.drugs.ie/festivals 


Issued by HSE Press Office
Phone: 01 921 3912
Email: press@hse.ie

Last updated on: 28 / 08 / 2019