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harm reduction

Drug outreach services to be provided at Electric Picnic campsites

Medical professionals and other volunteers will be providing advice and other help in Stradbally.

SOME 46 VOLUNTEERS from the Ana Liffey Drug Project, including professional medical staff, will provide outreach and harm reduction services at this year’s Electric Picnic Festival in Co Laois.

Nine volunteers from the NGO manned an information stall and worked in the festival’s welfare tent last year.

As part of an expanded plan this year, the much-larger team will staff the eviction tent and provide outreach services in multiple campsites in addition to maintaining a presence in the welfare tent, which is located in the Jimi Hendrix campsite.

“We’ll have people heading out to the campsites in our yellow and black t-shirts,” CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project Tony Duffin said.

“It’s not just looking for people who are under the influence – we’ll be going around reaching out and talking to people who want to talk to us as well.

“If we do find people who are under the influence we’ll make sure that they’re okay – it might be just that they need to be spoken with and get them back in touch with their friends and make sure they’re safe.

But it may be that it’s more of a medical issue in which case the medics will get involved – we’ll assess that at the time.

71 people presented to the volunteers last year – 72% (51) were male and 28% (20) were female. All were aged in their late teens and early 20s and the busiest time was Friday evening between 7pm and 10pm.

The list of substances being ingested was extensive – including alcohol, cannabis, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and methamphetamine. Many of the people who sought the help of the Ana Liffey team asked about MDMA and ecstasy – how to handle friends who had taken too much, or how to minimise the effects.

Excessive consumption of alcohol was also a major issue last year.

Ana Liffey Vols wearing T-shirts 2018 Left to Right Nicki Killeen, Rebec... Ana Liffey volunteers wearing their distinctinctive t-shirts. ALDP ALDP

Gardaí, as always, will be maintaining a presence at the festival and have publicly warned people attending big concerts this summer that there will be a ‘no tolerance’ policy towards drugs.

Duffin said that the reality was that there are no drug-free festivals – and that, while the best advice was not to take illicit or illegal drugs, it was important for everyone to work together to reduce the potential for harm.

Promoters Festival Republic were to be commended, he said, for taking a proactive, health-based approach to drug issues.

Ana Liffey has produced the following checklist guide:

  • Do not purchase from a supplier you do not know. Remember – dealers at festivals do not know you and may never see you again.
  • Do not use drugs alone. Remember – stay with your friends and do not leave anybody who is intoxicated on their own.
  • Start with a tester dose. Remember – nobody can advise you on what is a safe dose of illicit or unknown drugs.
  • Take breaks, get enough sleep, eat well and rehydrate. Remember you can take steps to ensure your own physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Don’t mix your drugs. Remember – alcohol and illicit or unknown drugs can mix to cause overdose and other adverse effects.

This year’s Electric Picnic will run from Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September. Headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack and The Prodigy.

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