Drug Safety at Music Festivals [2024]

Music fests are back, and about 87% of attendees plan to take drugs. How can people (and venues) ensure they're staying as safe as possible this festival season?

Last updated: Apr 14th, 2024
Drug Safety Music Festival

Photo by Innerbody Research

As this year’s festival season ramps up, concert lovers nationwide are making plans to ensure they have their ideal experience. The thrill of watching your favorite artists perform live while among other like-minded individuals can be a truly exhilarating time — and, for many people, choosing to take drugs is part of elevating their experience.

But while it’s possible to come out unscathed while using drugs at a festival, not everyone is so lucky. So, how do you avoid a substance-related crisis if you choose to partake? We surveyed 900 people who plan to be under the influence at a music festival this year to learn about their approach to drug safety and what precautions most concertgoers take. Notably, alcohol is always the top substance consumed at festivals, but this study is solely focused on drug usage.

Jump to

Jump to:

Key takeaways

  • Marijuana is the most popular drug used at music festivals.
  • Over 3 out of 5 people report purchasing drugs at a festival venue instead of buying them beforehand.
  • 80% of festival attendees who pre-purchase drugs have them tested before the event.
  • More than half of festivalgoers who use drugs have had a health issue requiring medical attention at a concert.
  • 66% of attendees using drugs report engaging in risky behavior, like sex with a stranger or dangerous driving.


We refreshed last year's Drug Safety at Music Festival study with new 2024 data to give festivalgoers an idea of what to expect when taking drugs at their favorite music festivals, including data on drug safety measures and the most common high-risk behaviors.

Drug use at top festivals

Drug Safety 2024 1

Photo by Innerbody Research

It comes as no surprise that the most popular drug used at music festivals is marijuana. The impact of the more widespread legalization of recreational marijuana usage across the U.S. makes cannabis appear to be a less risky option for concertgoers. And while more survey participants reported plans to use cocaine at festivals this year than last year, there was a slight drop (2%) in the number of people planning to use opioids. This is surprising considering the ever-rising opioid overdose epidemic, but encouraging nonetheless.

So, what types of festivals draw the most attendees who plan to be under the influence? Our survey data found that rock, hip-hop, and EDM are the music genres most likely to have audience members under the influence of drugs. We also found that Rock Fest, once again, is the festival with the most drug use, according to our survey participants. Of our respondents who typically use drugs at Rock Fest, 52% are Millennials, 37% are Gen Z, and 9% are Gen X.

Burning Man, a weeklong event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, moved up in the ranks to become the 2nd top festival for drug use, while Coachella remained steady in 3rd place. On the flip side, Sun Fest moved down two spots to the 4th most popular festival for those planning to be under the influence. This West Palm Beach multi-day festival has suffered from rising ticket prices and declining attendance. It’s facing big budget cuts this year (affecting its ability to pull big music acts), so this popularity shift aligns with our survey results.

Drug concealment, consumption, and testing behaviors

Drug Safety 2024 2

Photo by Innerbody Research

We found that when festivalgoers plan on doing drugs, only about 30% bring their own with them, meaning the majority of people purchase their drugs at the festival venue. This statistic differs from last year’s study, where 46% of those surveyed reported bringing their own drugs to the concert. We also found that Millennials are the generation most likely to buy their drugs at the venue versus purchasing them beforehand.

Of all the creative places people use to conceal their drugs, pockets and backpacks remain the most common choice. We also found that festivalgoers typically take drugs pretty equally in one of three places: the restroom (29%), within the concert crowd (31%), or outside the festival gates (33%).

Drug testing has become a more commonplace practice at music festivals. More and more festival organizers are providing booths for drug checking as a harm reduction strategy. However, not everyone utilizes this resource out of fear of getting in trouble. Overall, though, more people are testing their drugs, and they are more likely to do it before the event than waiting to do it at the venue; we found that 4 out of 5 (80%) survey respondents test their drugs before a music festival. This is an improvement over the data we saw from last year’s survey, which concluded that only about 67% of people have their drugs tested in advance.

This increase in testing could be due to more awareness surrounding the U.S. opioid crisis and the public education efforts that have taken place. But while the data is encouraging, it still reflects the reality that 20% of festivalgoers could be taking potentially dangerous drugs at concerts.

Drug safety and high-risk incidents

Drug Safety 2024 3

Photo by Innerbody Research

While it’s reassuring to hear that the rate of people having their drugs tested has increased by about 13% since last year, that doesn’t mean those drugs are risk-free. Unfortunately, even drugs tested as “safe” can react with your body in unexpected ways, resulting in serious consequences. Over half of our survey respondents reported having a health-related issue that warranted medical attention while under the influence of drugs at a festival. Similar to last year’s findings, the top three health complications that attendees experienced were:

  • Heat stroke
  • Bad trip
  • Dehydration

In fact, over half of festivalgoers reported suffering from heat stroke. Festivals are known for being hot and crowded, and dehydration can put you on the fast track to a more serious issue — it’s easy to forget to drink water when under the influence. And while heat stroke and heat exhaustion are often confused (heat stroke being the more critical of the two), both conditions can be life-threatening and require medical attention.

In addition to the risk of physical health concerns, drug use can cloud logic and inhibitions, resulting in people engaging in risky behavior. 66% of both Gen Z and Millennials surveyed reported engaging in such behavior at a music festival due to drugs. Among respondents, engaging in sex with a stranger and reckless driving stood out as the most prevalent examples, with Millennials demonstrating the highest likelihood of participating in casual sex with strangers. Furthermore, one out of every four Millennials also reported driving dangerously after the festival was over.

So, how do people stay safe while choosing to use drugs at a festival? It’s easy to argue that aside from abstaining, testing your drugs before using them is one of the smartest things you can do. However, we found that half of the festivalgoers surveyed reported that their top strategy for staying safe was educating themselves about the risks and potential side effects of the drug they were using instead. The second most common safety strategy reported was starting with a low dosage, followed closely by drug testing.

We found that men were more likely to educate themselves about the potential risks and side effects of drug use than women. But while doing some research about your drug of choice can be beneficial, there are more considerations to be made to ensure your safety. Being aware of your surroundings, remaining close to your friends, keeping hydrated, and familiarizing yourself with the location of medical tents are also easy and practical ways to help stay safe at music festivals.


We surveyed 900 music festival attendees about their substance use habits at festivals.

Fair use statement

Innerbody Research is committed to providing objective, science-based suggestions and research to help our readers make more informed decisions regarding health and wellness. We invested time and effort into creating this report and others to give readers some data on how to stay safe when being under the influence of drugs at music festivals. We hope to reach as many people as possible by making this information widely available. As such, please feel free to share our content for educational, editorial, or discussion purposes. We only ask that you link back to this page and credit the author as Innerbody.com.



Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Meko, T., & Blanco, A. (2023). More than half of Americans live in places where recreational marijuana is legal. The Washington Post.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Understanding the opioid overdose epidemic. CDC.

  3. Persaud, C. (2023). SunFest 2024 to cut spending on big music acts by $1 million, bring in locals, high schools. The Palm Beach Post.

  4. Beal, A.R. (2023). Why drug checking at music festivals is a vital harm reduction measure. Harm Reduction Circle.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. (2023). Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are too hot to handle on your own. Cleveland Clinic.