One popular activity among teenagers is going to music festivals. These festivals can be a lot of fun for teens, but they can also be dangerous. Teens tend to go to music festivals with their friends (not parents) and there are often alcohol and drugs available.
How can you keep your teenager safe without outright forbidding them to attend music festivals? Read on for some ideas.
Be Aware of the Dangers
Music festivals are known for having easy access to drugs and alcohol. Just what types of substances might be available? Here are some of them:
Alcohol is legal for festival-goers who are over the age of 21, so it’s likely that your teen will be able to get hold of it if they want to. It’s important that your teen understands that alcohol poisoning is possible; also, dehydration can make it more likely to suffer the negative effects of alcohol. Many teens will assume that it’s relatively harmless (despite being illegal), so let them know that that is not necessarily the case.
Also known as Molly or MDMA; ecstasy is a party drug that increases energy levels and can make those taking it feel warm and happy. Although it can be overdosed on, the main danger is that it’s often mixed with drugs like cocaine or bath salts, which can cause strong negative side effects.
There will be people smoking marijuana at the festival, most likely. This is another drug that your teen might feel is harmless. Marijuana can cause poor judgment and can be dangerous if a person smokes and drives. Also, it can be mixed with other drugs that are much more dangerous.
LSD, mushrooms, and other types of hallucinogens might make an appearance at any music festival. They can cause paranoia, anxiety, seizures, and even heart problems. The newer generation hallucinogens are often more dangerous than LSD and mushrooms, and they can be mixed into other drugs.
Opioids, stimulants (like Adderall), and other prescription pills might be passed around and abused at music festivals. These have a variety of dangerous side effects and some can be very addictive.
Talk to Your Teen
The most important thing you can do to keep your teen safe is to talk to them about reasonable boundaries, expectations, and consequences. It’s absolutely reasonable for you to expect that your teen will abstain from any and all illegal drug use. It’s also a good idea to put in place consequences for breaking that rule.
Preparing your teen ahead of time for the possibility that they might encounter drugs and alcohol will give them some time to talk to their friends about it and develop a strategy for saying no.
Telling their friends that they’re going with that they will not be trying any drugs while there might feel awkward, but it will help them avoid being in a situation where a friend is pressuring them to go back on their word while at the festival. Also, it will probably make some of their friends feel relieved because they weren’t planning on trying drugs, either.
Insist on Supervision or Checking In
One way you can keep your teen safe is to insist on some sort of supervision. If neither you nor your teen’s friends’ parents can attend the music festival, see if another adult in your circle is planning on going.
An older cousin or a responsible young adult you know might be more than happy to tag along, especially if you pay for their ticket. Your teen is less likely to resent someone only a handful of years older joining their group, too.
If no adult is going, talk to your teen about checking in. Depending on how long the festival lasts, you might say that you need a text from them every three or four hours to put your mind at ease that they are doing well and having a good time.
Let them know that they are allowed to leave early if they feel uncomfortable; music festivals can be intense and they might not want to stay as long as they thought they might.
Know What Measures the Music Festivals Are Taking
The people who arrange music festivals know that drugs can be an issue, so they often take some steps to help reduce the risk. You can contact the organizer and find out if they are doing anything to keep people safe.
For example, the venue might supply free water and encourage people to stay hydrated. Since dehydration can heighten negative side effects of drugs, this is a small step they can take to reduce the chances that someone will have a bad reaction simply from being dehydrated.
They also might have medical tents set up. These are for run-of-the-mill problems like sunburn, blisters, and a sore throat, but they will also have medical personnel available to help people who have taken illicit substances and are having a bad reaction or showing signs of an overdose.
Of course, the festival should also be employing enough security to keep an eye on things and to remove people who are obviously using or distributing drugs. Bags should be checked on the way into the venue, and security staff should be walking around throughout the festival.
Knowing whether your teen is mature enough to keep him- or herself safe during a music festival can be tricky, but keeping the lines of communication open and discussing your concerns with your child should give you the peace of mind you need.
Do be aware of the signs that your teen might be using, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are concerned.