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Festivals: what you need to know if you decide to use

Festival season is finally here, and with it comes the joy of getting together, discovering artists and living unforgettable moments. For many people, this period of effervescence also comes with using various substances like alcohol, cannabis, stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines, disruptors and hallucinogens like LSD or MDMA. If you decide to use, it is imperative to do so safely and to be well informed. That is why reducing the risks and preventing unwanted consequences is crucial to having a good time without compromising your health and that of others.


Valuable intervention resources

Many organizations and projects in Québec are dedicated to harm reduction and intervention during festive environments. Here are a few of those resources.

GRIP (Groupe de recherche et d’intervention psychosociale)

GRIP is an organization working in harm reduction related to drug use and in sexual violence prevention. Present during numerous festivals across Québec, they provide information on drug use, drug checking services, they distribute drug use supplies, sexual and hearing health supplies and intervene in preventing and helping during difficult situations like sexual violence, overdoses, bad trips and other needs of festival goers. Their goal is to minimize risks and ensure a safer environment for everyone.


Based in Sherbrooke, Élixir also operates in festive environments, through its La Halte program, to promote harm reduction. Its team provides information, sterile equipment and support to people in crisis in a safe environment. Élixir essentially operates in Estrie.


Bras Outaouais

Bras Outaouais is an organization specialized in prevention and intervention for HIV and safe drug use. Among its numerous services (STBBI screening, outreach work, sexuality workshops, drug checking…), Bras Outaouais also intervenes during festive environments through its Euphorie project across both Outaouais’ urban and rural areas.

These resources are increasing their efforts to ensure a growing presence during multiple summer events across Québec. Other than festivals, certain organizations also operate in raves, bars and other places of socialization to ensure their mission of prevention and information.

Good to know: if you are organizing a festival or other festive events anywhere in Québec, do not hesitate to contact one of these resources. They can equip and guide you towards better practices in harm reduction and, if possible, offer outreach workers at your disposal. A win-win for everyone!

This is, of course, a non-exhaustive list of existing resources. Do not hesitate to get information on existing resources near you. If needed, contact our team at 1-800-265-2626 or by chat bottom right of screen.


A few tips to keep in mind

  • Get informed on substances and their effects

Knowing the effects, risks and interactions of substances you are planning on using can protect you. Go to our page on various substances and the GRIP’s prevention tools to learn more.

Spot the medical tents

Before diving deep into festival ambiance, note the locations of the first aid stations. In case of emergency, you will immediately know where to go to get help.

  • Test your substances

Many festivals have drug checking services. Depending on the technologies available onsite, these tests make it possible to know the real composition of a substance, or minimally, to detect Fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is contaminating more and more substances. Contact us if you wish to find drug checking services near you.

  • Do not use alone

Stay with trustworthy friends that can keep an eye on you and help you if needed. Give yourselves a meeting point if you lose each other and stay with your friends if they are too intoxicated, feel sick or anxious. Collective vigilance is an important strategy to reduce risks.

  • Get some Naloxone

Substances of all kinds, including stimulants, can be contaminated by powerful synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl. Naloxone is an effective remedy that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone kits are available for free in Québec pharmacies and certain community organizations such as the ones mentioned above. Go to their map of distribution points to find out where to get Naloxone and watch this video on how to administer it.

  • Beware of mixing

Combining different drugs can increase the risks of unexpected reactions. Be attentive to your physical and mental state as well. Many factors can influence your reaction to substances.

  • Have your own drug supplies

Sharing straws or needles can favour the transmission of certain infections. Get your own supplies from one of the organizations cited above.

And of course, always hydrate yourself regularly and find shaded areas. Certain substances can cause dehydration and increase bodily temperature without you realizing it. Take breaks, eat, wear ear plugs and plan your way back home.

By taking these precautionary measures and by using available resources, you can fully enjoy the experience while ensuring your safety and that of others. Be careful and take care of yourself. Have fun!

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