Lost a childhood friend, lost a career, jailed – all over music fest ecstasy

Physiotherapist Daniel Huynh has many things to regret- but it’s too late to change the direction his life took when he gave his childhood friend Sylvia Choi MDMA, also known as “ecstasy” at the Stereosonic music festival in November 2015. As for Choi, regrets mean nothing. She died after being hospitalized.

WhatsApp conversations show that Choi was eager to get her hands on some drugs that fateful day. Huynh “helped” her to get what she wanted, and there is some evidence that she refused to listen when he advised her to take half a tablet and wait an hour to see what its effect would be. “I’m not feeling my high,” she told her boyfriend shortly after taking her first half tablet. A little later Choi told him “I took it!”

Group chat between friends provides police with record

Police provided evidence in the form of a group chat via WhatsApp in which ten friends discussed their chances of getting ecstasy for the music event. Huynh collected money from the group and supplied the drugs – but he is no drug dealer. Nevertheless, the drugs he sourced led to his friend’s death.

A court has sentenced him to one year in prison although it is not known whether the drugs he supplied caused the tragedy, or whether Choi had taken additional drugs at the festival. Her boyfriend said he saw her drinking water with “stuff” in it.

Party drugs responsible for multiple music fest deaths around the world

A large percentage of people, not all of them young, will recognize the scenario that led up to the tragedy. Taking drugs at music festivals is pretty common practice, and ecstasy is a favorite choice. Friends club together, much as Choi’s circle did, and the first one to find a source helps the others by organizing the highs. Much as we may criticize Huynh for his actions, they are hardly unusual, and it is only through dumb luck that many more people do not find themselves in his position.

It’s not only ecstasy that is to blame. At an Ohio music festival, 24 festival-goers were hospitalized after eating candies laced with synthetic THC. There are several synthetic variants of the active ingredient in marijuana, and they are without exception more potent and much more dangerous than herbal cannabis.

In California, three died and nine were hospitalized while the festival in question was being sued by the parents of a 19-year-old who died of multiple drug intoxication the previous year. That same year, another young festival goer died as a result of MDMA use.

Festivals introduce drug testing but deaths can still happen

Certain festivals in the UK and Canada are now offering a service that tests the drugs people bring with them to see if they are what the people who bought them believed them to be. Regretfully, this only determines whether illegal drugs are contaminated. Drug overdoses and deaths from cocktails of illicit substances are still a real possibility.

Even when the substance taken really is MDMA, and users are careful with doses, fatalities can ensue. MDMA makes people feel energetic, outgoing and relaxed while enhancing sensory input. People take it so that they can dance all night, but dancing is among the things that can lead to death. MDMA interferes with the body’s ability to regulate its core temperature, and many MDMA deaths are linked to hyperthermia or overheating. Other causes of death include liver failure and cardiac arrest as blood pressure soars and the heart races. Some are so sensitive to the drug that one dose can kill.

Having a risk-free good time

When attending music festivals or raves, or simply going out clubbing, it’s best to avoid illegal drugs altogether. Get lots of sleep before the time, and eat well for extra energy. Energy drinks can also give you a lift, but be aware that even caffeine can have unpleasant effects if you have too much of it.

If you do choose to use MDMA, never take a whole tablet at once. Drink plenty of water and allow yourself time to cool off between spells of dancing, but be aware that even if you are careful, MDMA use can prove fatal. The risks simply aren’t worth it. Sylvia Choi clearly thought she knew what she was doing and had used MDMA before (“I’m not good at halves, LOL,” she said on WhatsApp). Today, she is dead, and her friend is in prison for doing her a “favor” by organizing the ecstasy.

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