Banana Cam Photo and Shambhala Music Festival

A Survey Shows the Most Used Drugs at Music Festivals: Here’s What We Learned

The popular ticket seller TickPick surveyed 1,000 musical festival goers about their party habits. The self-reported data they collected paints a portion of substance use at music festivals. Participants surveyed ranged from 18-74.

It provides a disclaimer saying “no statistical testing was performed” and that the content is “purely exploratory.”  With that in mind, the findings are an interesting look at the integration of substance use in festival culture. Here are some of the things we learned:

1. Alcohol remains king at festivals

In a survey of 1,000 music festival participants the vast majority (75.5%) used alcohol to let loose. This was about double the rate of consumption for any other substance. Only one other category came even close to a majority, with just over a third of those surveyed (38.8%) having used cannabis at a festival.

2. Harder drugs are still around

A “smaller, but significant portion” of the survey respondents reported they used harder drugs like MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy (13%), hallucinogens like LSD (8%) or mushrooms (8.5%), or faster drugs like cocaine (7.3%). The survey admits that respondents at least thought they consumed these, but pills sold at events are often inconsistent.

3. VIP and general admission used differently

Overall, VIP attendees were significantly more likely to use a variety of drugs compared to general admission. The survey found that leaving the VIP zone would find a slightly boozier vibe with 72% of VIP respondents using alcohol compared to those in general admission at 75.1%.

Another big difference was the use of marijuana, sticking at 37.9% for general admission and 47.6% in VIP. Only about 6.9% of general admission used cocaine compared to the 15.9% in VIP. Other notable differences include VIP’s nearly double rate of consumption for mushrooms (14.6%,) and their nearly five percent increase in MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy use (18.3%).

4. Different festivals had different results

When broken down based on festival, EDC led the way in MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy use at 26.4% compared to SXSW’s consumption rate at 3.2%. SXSW’s drinking rate, however, topped all others reported at 77.1%. Others on the drinking leader-board include Bonnaroo (74.9%) and Ultra Music Festival (74.3%).

Burning Man had double digit rates of consumption across the board, the lowest being LSD (16%) and the highest being alcohol (71.8%). Their highest consumption rate of any festival was a stark contrast to SXSW, which all had less than 5% rates for cocaine, MDMA, and mushrooms.

An interesting statistic is how Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival led the way in DMT use at 3.6%. It seems that no single festival had a monopoly on the substance use. SXSW championed drinking as a way of getting loose, while EDC made the top three in MDMA, cocaine, LSD, and opioid use. Meanwhile, cocaine had the largest use by Ultra attendees.

5. Substances are here to stay

We may hate to admit it, but substance use is deeply entwined in festival, and even music, culture. The results of this survey is a clear picture that music festivals have different drug and alcohol vibes. Though festivals make heavy restrictions, it’s clear that drugs and alcohol are part of the appeal for at least some of those attending. That’s why organizations, such as ANKORS and Dance Safe, are at the forefront of harm reduction. If people are going to choose to participate, then it’s essential to teach the risks and priority of safe consumption.

What do you think of the results? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social media!