After a miserable winter, summer is finally here.

The festivals have started, the sun has been out, and most of all, we’ve been able to get back in the fields, and party like it was 1999.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen people walking around in a hedonistic state, high on freedom and life. But more often than not, they’ve been high as a kite. Wasted. Absolutely off their faces. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, although I have had to intervene more than once because someone didn’t know the strength or, to be honest, what they were taking.

But it’s summer. It’s festival time. Most of us will be getting the party supplies ready, a chiller and some beers for the tent, maybe something a bit stronger to take into the event? The security guards are incredibly efficient, but you’re inventive, and there are plenty of ways to get by them.

Maybe a little pouch in your bag, a little bag strapped to your leg? A wine bra? Believe me; I’ve seen some very inventive ways that people smuggle their alcohol into events. Then you’re on to your weed or hash for the chilled vibe you want to get whilst bopping around the arena for about 10 hours.

Then maybe you’re on to your uppers, the class A’s, the ones that will keep you going all night, you’ve got your coke, your mate’s got the ket sorted, and Mandy is in the bag. Sweet, you’re all set and ready for the next three or four days of partying.

Four days of partying after years stuck home. Four days away from the grind, from the constraints of life. Four days of festival food, beer, and drugs. Oh, and music.

And it’s the first time in ages you’re going to want to let loose; that’s understandable. But it’s about taking it easy. Yeah, that first day, you’re going to want to go wild, throw everything down your throat you can and bang that snow up your nose ‘till it’s practically a blizzard. But you’ve got to stay safe.

Cocaine and alcohol together create a third drug. This interaction will extend insomnia, the sleeplessness, and the comedown, but it will not increase the high. We call this a drug interaction, and the substance it produces is called cocaethylene.

What is cocaethylene? 

Cocaethylene is created when the liver is trying to filter out the toxins of both cocaine and alcohol. The two drugs together have more of an effect than that of simply adding the high to the drunkenness. The increased toxicity levels that cocaethylene produces can be life-threatening.

To understand the more significant risks, let’s look at the “half-life” of drugs. 

The half-life of a drug is precisely that - an estimate of the time it takes for the concentration in the body to be reduced by half. For example, the half-life of cocaine is anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes after use (dependent upon strength, quality, age, weight and tolerance to cocaine). 

So, for simplicities sake, let’s say that a line of coke takes 45 mins for the body to clear half of the drug used. After 90 minutes, you have a quarter of the dose. 135 minutes and it’s halved again.

If you are drinking alcohol on top of your line of coke, we know that the mixture will create cocaethylene. 

Cocaethylene is more toxic than cocaine and has a half-life of nearly 4 hours. It will take significantly longer for the cocaethylene to be removed from the body, increasing the time you are at risk of overdose if you take another line.

Basically, your first night (and every night, to be fair), once you start using cocaine, stop using alcohol! 

It’s one thing about being in your own bed and staring at the ceiling, but it is entirely different being in a warm stuffy tent in the middle of a field awake five hours after taking your last line. 

Cut the alcohol out before you use, and you will see that you can get your head down, control those thoughts and get some sleep. It may only be a few hours of sleep, but it’s better than nothing, and you’ll be in better shape to keep going the next day. 

Day 2

You have been on a proper bender, drank all the pop in your tent, and sniffed all the gear you brought. And the thing is, with that stuff, you know who the dealer is, and you know what they usually have in and the purity. 

You bought plenty! 

At least, you thought you bought plenty to see you through. Your mates are all up early, wanting to return for the day’s lineup. But you’re inevitably going to run out of at least one of the party supplies you’ve brought. And we can’t let the party stop! Let’s be honest about this; you’re going to be searching the site, sliding up to someone who you think is not an undercover cop, someone who’s on the same buzz. 

You get that score, paid a little too much for it, but hey, it’s a festival, and it’s a holiday. You know you’re going to have to pay for the privilege. You get back on it.

Day 3 

You’re still awake. That wasn’t coke. What the hell was that? You’ve been hallucinating, seeing things, and conversing with no one. 

You have not seen your mates in 18 hours, and you’ve woken up in a random tent! At least you still have your pants on. The fear rides over you like a wave from a tsunami. You panic, but you gather yourself up, grab your stash, and get out of there. 

Day 4

Wait, what? What happened to day three? 

You bought from a random dealer who promised you the dream and gave you the opposite. And the shits. At a festival. 

Just think, if there were a testing service on-site to test your drugs, maybe you wouldn’t have woken thinking, “What’s happened? Where am I?”

Yet, you can not take your drug of choice in the UK and get tested. There is no way to know if what you’ve purchased is actually what you wanted. The Loop is a drug testing service that’s operated at festivals in the past, but they could only test drugs that were seized or found in the amnesty boxes. This form of testing does not really help you, the user. You couldn’t test your drugs and take them too. How do you stay safe then? How do you, the end-user, know what you’re taking without going all breaking bad on it? 

Presumptive drug testing. 

Little kits that you can put in your bag and test your drugs before you take them to find out what’s in them.

Presumptive testing will help and support you in making a decision. Presumptive testing will show you if your coke is cocaine or has any cathinone’s in it. They can tell you the purity and strength, and most importantly, they give you the information you need to choose if it’s safe for you to take. 

You have already chosen to take drugs. You’re not going to be convinced to stop by a horror story. There are plenty of those, and you are still game. So, choose to use a presumptive test; to stay safe, not to impact your mental health more than you need to, and above all, to help ensure that you wake up in the morning.