Friday, September 22, 2023

HSE expands harm reduction services at Electric Picnic

The HSE’s Safer Nightlife Programme will expand its services at Electric Picnic this weekend, with increased visibility across the festival.

A total of 70 HSE-trained volunteers will be on-site across the three-day festival which takes place in Stradbally, Co Laois. Three tents and outreach teams, where the public can come for information and support, will be on-site. And five surrender bins will be accessible for festival-goers to hand over drugs for on-site analysis at a dedicated ‘back of house’ HSE National Drug Treatment Centre laboratory.

“This year we are expanding our service at Electric Picnic with the aim of increasing our direct contact with festival attendees,” HSE National Clinical Lead for Addiction Services Prof Eamon Keenan said. “We will provide a total of 30 hours of harm reduction support on-site delivered by our trained volunteers across three different locations at the event.”

The Safer Nightlife campaign has so far been delivered at two festivals this year – ‘Life’ and ‘Body and Soul’ in Westmeath. This work led to the HSE issuing three risk communications relating to high strength, ketamine, cocaine and MDMA.

At three events over the last two years, the HSE has identified seven drugs which had not been previously seen here. These included a pink powder being sold as ‘tuci’ or ‘pink cocaine’ which is a mixture of drugs – often unknown to the consumer.  So far this summer, the HSE has found ‘tuci’ to contain the new psychoactive substance 2-Fluoromethamphetamine (2FMA) and ketamine, with further pink powders found to contain MDMA, cocaine and benzocaine and MDMA and ketamine mixtures.

“So far this summer we have had an extremely positive response from festival attendees and have analysed 133 drug samples,” HSE Emerging Drug Trends Project Manager Nicki Killeen said. “From this we know that the substances at the moment could be high strength – which increases the risks of a person accidently taking too much for their bodies to handle, which could cause a drug emergency.

“MDMA pills have varied in strength with different pills containing from 71mg to 246mg of MDMA. This means that you could experience a different reaction each time you take a pill, so if people choose to use drugs, they need to consider harm reduction advice. In addition, powders can vary in potency and content, and this means it is harder to accurately measure each time they are consumed particularly in festival settings. These are areas that we can discuss with people at the festivals.”

The HSE teams can be found in the Main Arena, in the Jimi Hendrix Campsite and in the Janis Joplin Campsite from Friday (12-9pm) and Saturday and Sunday (11am-9pm). Updates will be shared on Twitter and Instagram @drugsdotie.

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