Why Are People Still Dying at Music Festivals?

This year's Australian music festival season has begun badly. It started on November 28 when pharmacist Sylva Choi died after drinking MDMA dissolved in water at Stereosonic in Sydney. Then, only one week later at Adelaide's Stereosonic, Stefan Woodward was rushed to the hospital after taking ecstasy, only to die hours later. These cases bring the number of drug-related deaths at festivals to a total of six nationally, since November last year.

So what the hell is going on? With so much information on mitigating drug risks for users, event organizers, and law enforcement, why are people still dying?

A recent study based on data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed that per capita Australian adults are leading the world in ecstasy consumption. But in European nations like the Netherlands, where party drugs are notoriously popular, similar stories don't seem so common.

In the case of 19-year-old Stefan Woodward, the police put the incident down to a dodgy batch of pills. This scenario has been of concern for many years. Individuals believe they're purchasing drugs containing MDMA, but instead they contain another psychoactive substance, such as PMA, which is similar in effect, but much more toxic and potentially harmful.

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