Eclipse Psychedelic Ambulance

Contact name: 
Rudiger Schmolke
Organization: 
eclipse e.V., c/o Stephan Hog, Bilserstr. 50, 22297 Hamburg, ++49 40 511 0465
Telephone: 
++49 40 511 0465
Address: 
eclipse e.V.c/o Stephan HogBilserstr, 5022297 Hamburg, Germany
Fax: 
++49 03212 - 1001413
Summary

During festivals, party peers, friends, security, MDs and first aid staff often have a lack of understanding of the dynamics of drugs and "talking down" methods to support drug users to cope with negative effects. Most of the users that suffer from an acute but temporary crises related to drug use are transported to hospital. Eclipse offers, with the Psychedelic Ambulance, psychological support using "talking down" strategies. The users in crisis are supported one on one by a trained volunteer in a relaxation room. The service is built in the chill out area of the event.The objectives of the Psychedelic ambulance are to enhance the knowledge of party goers about drugs and avoid hospitalisation of party goers in an acute, but temporary, psychedelic crisis.The Psychedelic ambulance is an innovative project in the European nightlife scene and has not been evaluated very well. However, the experience suggests that this method is working well for users that suffer from an illegal drug induced bad trip.

Abstract

Background

Drugs, particularly psychedelics, can open many gates of consciousness and contain a potential for growth. However, they can also lead to massive problems and psychotic states. During festivals, party peers, friends, security, MDs and first aid staff often lack understanding of the dynamics of drugs and "talking down" methods to help drug users cope with negative effects. Thus party goers in acute, but temporary crises related to drug use are at high risk of a hospitalisation that often could be prevented by psychological support. Eclipse offers psychological support and uses talking down strategies.

Objectives

Enhancement of the knowledge of party goers about drugs, and avoiding hospitalisation of party goers in acute, but temporarily psychedelic crises.

Characteristics

On big festivals, eclipse provides a chill out area including a "psychedelic ambulance" service, where trained volunteers support party goers in acute psychological crises related to drug use by talking them down, offering a cosy relaxation room etc.

Intervention details

Type of intervention
Counseling, Treatment & care
Problem addressed
Illegal drugs, Poly drug use, Dehydration / overheating, Overdosing
Intervention setting
Event
Target population

Drug users at techno festivals.

Substances adressed
All substances
Alcohol
Cannabis
Powdered cocaine
MDMA (XTC)
Amphetamines
Methamphetamines
GHB
Ketamine
Polydrug
Strategic target group (social agents acting as intermediaries between intervention and target group)

Festival organisers and security staff, MDs and first aid staff on the spot.

Intervention activities
Providing information
Use of media
Counselling help and treatment
Actions
Distribution of flyers (multilingual), on-site counseling, and psychological support for people going through difficult experiences related to drug use
Theory/evidence behind the intervention

As party goers, we observed that especially during multi-day festivals, people experiencing psychological crises related to drug use were at risk of hospitalisation that often could be prevented by psychological support, e.g. use of talking down strategies. 10-years experience working on big festivals shows that first aid staff and MDs often lack basic information and understanding (psychedlic) drug use.

Number of people needed
About 4 to 6 people per shift; eclipse works with at least 30 volunteers per 3-to-5-day festivals
Specific training required?
Basic knowledge about drugs; introduction workshop on intervention principles and methods
Time required to run
24-hour service during 3-to-5-day festivals; installation of chill out and intervention area; planning and evaluation
Other resource requirements

Equipment for chill out area (including several tents), equipment for the provision of hot and cold drinks, fruits etc.

Evaluation details

Evaluation type (e.g. process, outcome, cost-effectiveness)
Process evaluation
Activities evaluated

Number of parties and number of people.

Type of evaluator (e.g. external consultant, internal evaluator)
Internal
Evaluation results (Process evaluation)

The psychedelic ambulance is present at two big parties a year. In 2008 VooV-Experience (a psychedlic trance event) was attended by 3000-5000 people of which around 200 people received advice or care. Fusion festival is much bigger (40-50.000 people) of which more than 500 visited the psychedlic ambulance.

Evaluation results (Other)

Most people cared for are those with "simple" paranoid states, and disorientation. People in the state of deep regression, in traumatic conditions, acute psychosis or with suicidal tendencies are cared for one to one. These cases are relatively rare but per event at least a few of these severe problematic drug users are treated in the psychedelic ambulance.

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