What You Should Know About Drug Cocktailing

If you check Reddit, you’ll find threads of messages filled with people planning on attending music festivals and asking for help on their “festival drug schedule” — that is what order and in what combination to do your drugs. A typical response involves some combination of substances on different days.

Drug experts agree that polysubstance use, like that described above, is common in the festival scene and beyond. Sometimes called “cocktailing,” polysubstance use is broadly defined as the consumption of more than one substance by the same person, often at the same time or sequentially. There are dangerous implications to polysubstance use which is why it’s important to know why young people are engaging this behavior.

“It’s quite unusual [in general] for people to only use one substance,” says Mitchell Gomez, executive director of Dance Safe, a peer-based organization that promotes health and safety within the nightlife and electronic music community. Stefanie Jones, who runs music festival outreach for the Drug Policy Alliance, echoes the sentiment: “Polysubstance use is the norm.” This is especially true in the music scene, Gomez says, where the concert form has shifted from a one-night rave to a multi-day camping festival. “The idea that someone would go to a four-day festival and only do one drug,” he says, “is ludicrous. And even throughout a single night I think it’s extremely common for people to combine substances.”

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