By Lola Sasturain via El Planteo.
In the post-pandemic, live music and especially raves have returned with more popularity, more force, and more voracity than ever; it is a fact and it happens all over the world.
This current year, 2022, was the first one since the start of the pandemic in which clubs, festivals, and shows resumed activity without interruption and record attendance numbers. And, with this, consumption within those spaces also skyrocketed.
Each region has its music, its festivals, and its particular substances. And substances circulate at European parties that are very rare in this part of the globe. If Europe is the continent of the rave; nowadays, what drugs are consumed at these parties? Do different substances circulate than those that circulate here?
To learn more about these substances, their consumption contexts, effects, and risks, we consulted with Dimitris Ntarras, part of the Awareness Team based in Berlin. This team works with generally queer, sex-positive, and body-positive groups to create safe spaces for enjoyment.
“I find it very important that the team members have a foot in the scene, meaning that they too are ravers, and have close experience with substance users and the culture around the queer raver community,” explained Ntarras.
His actions within the rave context unfold on several levels. Ntarras lists: harm reduction through the material they disseminate and provide, search for and care for people who are tired or feel bad at the party, non-violent intervention in situations of abuse, discrimination, and segregation, emotional support for people who are misplaced or that they are having a bad experience inside or outside the party through anti-authoritarian restraint and empowerment where necessary.
“And last but not least, the feeling that our values are being protected through our presence and visibility in these spaces. We are there to take care of each other among peers,” Ntarras added.
Asked about the most abused drugs, he's categorical: they deal with cases of abuse, of course, but fortunately, this way of consuming and its consequences are not the standard within the European raves and clubs in which they work.
Most people consume conscientiously, even if that means in some cases choosing when and how to lose control a little. And the cases that they attend to overdoses or people in real life risk are few. “Ravers consciously consume to achieve a certain type of experience or inhibit others. To connect deeply with their bodies, physically and spiritually,” Ntarras explained. “Although in recent years it has caught on and hit the catwalks of the world, there is still a lot of stigma and ignorance surrounding rave culture.”
The recreational drug culture in Europe does not refer to clubs, he reflected but extends to bars, parks, and 'chemsex' or sex parties (very popular in some European cities, especially in Germany, Holland, and Eastern Europe).
Simplification would lead to prejudice and it is not possible to speak of a single type of drug for a context or a single fashionable consumption. "There are those who only use alcohol for the rave, others who only drink water, others who prefer ketamine with speed (we call them old school)," Ntarras added.
Ketamine, a drug that is widely used in the Americas, deserves a mention. This anesthetic originally used in veterinary medicine, which originally comes in a liquid format and is cooked until it acquires the texture of crystals to snort, is experiencing a peak of popularity in the old continent.
"Berliners love their ketamine and I can't blame them," said Ntarras. In post-pandemic raves, ketamine is seen circulating much more than other drugs more historically associated with the context, such as MDMA or ecstasy in tablets. Although the same, like the popper and inhalants, continue to enjoy popularity.
Image by El Planteo
A very popular use is ketamine mixed with a stimulant, be it speed or cocaine. The latter is such a common combination that it already has the status of a drug in itself: they call it "Coketa". Two drugs that are consumed nasally, some users take it by mixing the two powders and others intersperse, seconds apart, a shot of each. The combination, unsurprisingly, mixes the dissociative and psychedelic effects of ketamine with the euphoria and alertness of cocaine.
Both drugs have an effect of "regulating" each other but, according to the information tables of ‘Échele Cabeza’, a harm reduction platform based in Colombia, this combination is a high risk since it means mixing an anesthetic with a stimulant and this can lead to physiological complications.
But there is also a high circulation of party drugs about which in Argentina we know little or nothing. Some of them are speed, mephedrone, GHB, and its precursor GBL.
Speed is a very cheap amphetamine that is usually administered as crystals through the nose. With a use similar to that of cocaine, it is used for its stimulant effects and its induction of a state of alertness and concentration. It is a recreational substance in the same family as legal drugs used to study and previously to treat ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Widely used in raves in Germany and Spain, speed is, according to Ntarras, "hard to find in Greece and Italy, where cocaine is normally preferred." This is characterized by its effect of no effect: it is a pure and hard stimulant, very cerebral, with practically no hallucinogenic or empathogenic effects, without the clear physical effects of other raver drugs.
Its effects sometimes have more to do with maintenance and that is why it is easy to overdose, which can lead to states of motor disturbance and sleep deprivation for several days. Ntarras explained that it is a drug that is rarely used in the context of chemsex parties (sex parties where certain substances are consumed to have sex) since it hinders erection and general sexual response.
“The one that is very popular at sex parties is methamphetamine, no matter what city you are in,” said Ntarras.
It is not such a Breaking Bad image as it seems at first glance. This substance is fundamentally consumed orally (crystals and capsules) and nasally, and its effects are much more powerful and immediate than those of amphetamine itself.
That is why it is recommended to go little by little and consume less than what you would consume if you were on speed or cocaine. It is also consumed smoked and injected and these are much riskier routes of administration, not only because of all the risks that pricking already entails but also because, with this rapid entry into the bloodstream, it tends to develop tolerance and dependence much more quickly.
Image by El Planteo
Crystal is widely used in sex parties because it generates effects similar to those of amphetamine (alertness, energy, concentration), added to a feeling of well-being. Like amphetamines, it decreases feelings of tiredness and sleep.
Mephedrone, 4-Methylmethcathinone, “mefe” or also known as “meow”, is another nasally administered drug widely used at parties in Europe. It belongs to the family of synthetic cathinones and usually comes in the form of a white powder with a bitter taste. "Amsterdam has a long history of GHB just as London has an even longer one with mephedrone," expressed the specialist.
'Mefe' works as a central nervous system stimulant and has both stimulant and psychedelic effects. Widely used as a substitute for ecstasy as a party drug, it has some effects similar to it, causing empathy and a feeling of well-being but also alertness and muscular rigidity similar to that of cocaine. Mixing with other stimulants is not recommended due to its synergistic effect. Neither with antidepressants or benzodiazepines.
One substance that has been of great concern in recent years is GHB and its direct precursor, GBL. These are high-risk drugs that people take for their euphoric, energizing, and empathogenic effects.
They call it "liquid ecstasy" and for these payments, it appears in some circles although its consumption is much less common. Its most common form of administration is in the form of a colorless liquid that is mixed with other drinks. The concern around it is not only because of its effects but because, due to the ease of its administration, cases of use of drug people without their consent have been reported. The advice is the same as always: when in doubt, do not accept drinks from strangers.
This substance works as a central nervous system depressant. After the high, with effects that can generally last between an hour and an hour and a half, comes a pronounced low that induces relaxation, sleeping, and, depending on the dose, even depression of respiratory functions. For the same reason, it is not recommended to mix it with other depressants or benzodiazepines.
In Berlin, Ntarras described, the GBL has much more circulation than the GHB although sometimes people confuse the nomenclatures. GBL is also metabolized as GHB once ingested. GHB is illegal to carry, but GBL is not, which makes it more common in circulation.
It is a widely used drug in orgies and chemsex parties due to its effects of increased sensitivity to touch, erectile capacity, and general sexual response. Its danger lies in the fact that its pronounced ups and downs and its difficult dosage make it easy to fall into overdosing. And the consequences of that overdose can mean many things. Among them, is death.
With GHB and GBL, the gap between active doses and overdoses is very thin. "It's a particularly unreliable drug because a few milliliters can make a huge difference when it comes to taking a dose," said Ntarras.
GHB and GBL are consumed in one dose, being between 0.5 ml and 1.5 ml a safe measure, spaced apart by at least one hour. But even so, it is difficult to determine the concentration, and the consumer's self-control and self-knowledge play a fundamental role in not increasing the dose after a drop.
Not all overdoses of these substances are lethal, but unfortunately, they are common and very unpleasant to see and experience: muscle spasms, blank eyes, vomiting, and loss of consciousness, among others.
In all cases, it is recommended to have a testing station nearby (there are also some parties, clubs, and festivals) and to analyze the sample that is intended to be consumed, to avoid overdosing and unexpected effects.
Photo: Courtesy Of El Planteo
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Meet the biggest cannabis industry players and make deals that will push the industry forward.
Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.
Join us September 13-14, 2022 at The Palmer House in Chicago, IL.