Lisa Campbell 

Recently in Canada and across the United States, there has been an explosion of dance-drug related overdoses at large scale festivals, tragically cutting short the lives of many young people. These young people did not have a death wish. They were just looking to experiment and have fun like any other partier. When asked how to prevent overdoses (ODs), the police often respond that all drugs are dangerous and people should just not take them. Meanwhile, scientists like Dr. Perry Kendall, the Provincial Health Officer for BC, say that MDMA is no more dangerous than riding a horse! In honour of International Overdose Awareness Day, CSSDP has created a list of the top ten ways to prevent an overdose from party drugs. While following this list can’t guarantee that you are not going to OD, it can sure give you the tools to keep yourself and your friends safer from drug related complications.




Don’t buy your drugs from strangers! Research about the drug manufacturing process so you know how your drugs should look and taste before you do them. If you know the person you are buying from and where your drugs are manufactured, you have less of a chance of being ripped off. But what if you don’t know any drug dealers?! No shame! The internet is a great source of peer reviewed drug dealers through many secure websites similar to Silk Road. Yes, you can buy drugs on the internet with just as many reviews as kigurumis on Amazon! No, we can’t link to those sites, but we trust that you’re smart and you can find them.


DanceSafe makes these handy kits where you can test for adulterants in your pills or powders, as does Test Kit Plus in Canada. In particular, there are certain substances that keep on showing up in the pills that have been claiming young peoples lives: methylone and butylone. PMA/PMMA is another special one to screen for. While the reagent tests are not 100% accurate, if you bought MDMA and your pill does not test positive for any MDMA, chances are you should return it to your dealer or toss it out. That being said, there are many drugs that don’t get detected. You can send your sample by mail to and they will do a complete screening for you!


Party drugs are diverse these days. It’s not just MDMA! There are dozens of rare research chemicals on the market that you may find for sale at a party. If you want to try something new, know your dose and don’t mix unless you know what the contraindications are. Also if you’re on anti-depressants or any other medication, research possible interactions with your substance of choice. There are several websites you can do this on. DanceSafeTrip Project and Erowid are all pretty rad.


Did we mention don’t mix? Don’t mix your drugs, especially with depressants like alcohol. Yes, everyone loves putting MDMA powder in their drink, but moderation is key. If you are using large doses of MDMA or other party drugs, alcohol will dehydrate you. Drink water (not just beer or red bull!) and minimize mixing of alcohol and other drugs. The more drugs you mix, the more problems you could have. Don’t take pills you find on the ground, or accept drugs from strangers, even if you’re really high on MDMA and you think they are the love of your life.


Dancing, sunshine, and drugs are all lovely, until someone overheats and starts seizing on the dance floor. If you or your friends are looking super red and sweating up a storm, find a place to relax, get some water, and chill out for a bit. Trade massages, take turns fanning each other with party fliers, and cool down. If you are chilling for awhile and you are still super red hot, you may want to ask for a medic in case things take a turn for the worse.


In order to avoid overheating, stay hydrated throughout the party. Share water with your friends, but don’t take sips from strangers as they may have drugs in their water they’re not telling you about. Bring an empty water bottle if you can to refill so you don’t have to pay for bottled water. If it’s not banned by the festival, camel packs are pretty awesome for staying cool!


Are you feeling really bummed before the party? Maybe taking a huge dose of LSD or other psychedelics is not the therapeutic thing to do. Know where your mind is at before you decide on expanding it, as if you’re in a bad headspace things could get worse. If you did take drugs and are starting to lose your mind in an uncomfortable way, remind yourself that you are on drugs and that it’s only temporary! Do you have any medical conditions? If your heart is affected in any negative way, stimulants are probably not for you. If you have any history of mental illness in your family, make sure you research what drugs could potentially affect you. It is your choice what you put in your body, so know your own limits and what could possibly affect you. That doesn’t mean don’t do drugs, but know the risks and let your friends know so they can support you. Proceed with caution!


For maximum safety make sure you have a buddy on hand to trip-sit you, especially if you’re planning on getting blasted into outer space. You need someone there to help you make decisions (i.e. is it a good idea to make out with that 50 year old man dressed like a candy raver?). Drugs lower our inhibitions which can be super rad, or lead to horrible things happening (some of which are included in this list). Having a buddy means that when you feel like running into an abandoned garage and hiding in a box, your friend will be like “No man it’s cool, let’s just go home and watch cartoons on Netflix until we come down.” Never leave your buddy alone if they’re feeling bad, and call for backup if you’re worried they’re having an overdose!


Wait, isn’t that naloxone stuff for opiates? That’s not a party drug, right?! Opiates are more popular than ever, and oftentimes you can start with party drugs and find yourself looking for something to come down. It might start with a perc here or there, or an oxy to help you drift to sleep after a long bender. Maybe you start taking a tiny piece every day just to get you through? All of a sudden it becomes a daily habit, your supply runs out and you may switch to H. Many hipsters on the east coast have turned to heroin, adding numbers to the prescription opiate OD epidemic. You never know what your friends are on or what people around you may be taking. Be prepared and have naloxone on hand to prevent any opiate ODs.


So you’ve followed all of the tips above, and yet you’ve still gotten yourself into trouble. Don’t worry, no one is going to judge you for needing help. We all need a little help from our friends. Learn how to spot an overdose and when to call for help. If you’re feeling sick from consuming substances, reach out and get help. Tell your friend something is going wrong, get security if you’re around people, and if it’s really getting bad don’t be afraid to call 911.

To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day, visit