Can I avoid an ultimatum with my friends over drugs at festival?
June 11, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I want to go to this festival with my friends but not if they're going to do tons of drugs. Can I avoid an ultimatum?

I've bought a ticket to go to a music festival with some friends. They went last year and got pretty wasted, so much so that, this year, they said they were going to tone it down a LOT. I thought it would be nice to go with them this time, so I bought my ticket, and they were really glad I was coming. However, I was at a party with them last weekend, and have been told that, while I was out of the room, one of them started asking around to see what drugs everyone wanted them to get for the festival, and we're not talking the lightweight ones here.

So, I don't do drugs. They know this, and they also know that, while I'm not going to tell them what to do with their own bodies, I don't want to hang out with them if they're chewing their faces off. I did enough of that when we were younger (we're all in our late 20s). I feel like it's kind of lame to hide this from me, knowing the way I'd feel about it. But that's not really the issue as I can get over that.

I just don't want to go if that's what they're going for. The problem is, I don't know how to approach that. I could sell my ticket, but without asking if what I heard was true and they're planning a trip-fest, I can't be sure I'm not overreacting. But if I do, it will almost certainly seem like a Big Move if I then cancel my ticket. Worse, if they ask why I'm asking, I'll have to say why and then it will seem like an ultimatum.

So how do I approach this, causing the least amount of drama?

One final note: If you feel I'm overthinking this, please be kind when you reply, because I am a little hurt by the whole thing and not as cool as I would normally be. That's why I'm not doing anything about it until I've thought it through.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not just go and enjoy the festival on your own terms, irrespective of what they do? If they stay reasonably together, great, enjoy it with them. If they get trashed, leave them to do their thing and you do yours.
posted by Decani at 2:50 PM on June 11, 2012 [13 favorites]

Why not go - but make sure you have your own way home? That way you can go, and if it turns into a drug-fest, you can just say, "Hey, I'm taking off, I'll see you guys later," and vamoose.
posted by canine epigram at 2:51 PM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Two thoughts:

1 -- Speak to each of them individually that you are worried about one of the other people in the group going back on their agreement to tone down the drugs, because it makes you uncomfortable. Ask for help in monitoring and dealing with that other person.


2 -- Get them all together (live or via email or Facebook or whatever) and say, "Remember, we all agreed that this festival was not going to be about getting high as kites. So here's the deal. If I feel you're over the line, I'm leaving. I might go to another stage, I might go to a different part of the crowd, I might go the hell home and turn off my cell phone so you're stuck there. Do we have a deal?"
posted by Etrigan at 2:52 PM on June 11, 2012

I feel like this is what your dad would say, but - take your own transportation, hang on to your own ticket, have your own accommodations (or be ready to make a change), and be prepared to ditch them if they start in on the drugs.

Otherwise, if you don't want to go if you might end up going alone, sell the ticket. Reason: "I"m sorry, something has come up."
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:53 PM on June 11, 2012 [23 favorites]

I just don't want to go if that's what they're going for.

Then don't go. They're probably going do what you fear, so don't make plans where you're going to be miserable in the very likely event that they do turn it into a drug fest.

On the other hand, if you can go and just not have to deal with them, that might be the best thing. But canine epigram has already flagged the main issue with that plan: If you're going to go to the festival and just not be with these people, you're going to want alternative transportation.
posted by The World Famous at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

A lot of festivals are designed specifically to be comfortable, safe spaces for for those experimenting with drugs. You cannot escape it happening around you and your friends might get swept up in it regardless of what they plan to do. Ask your friends if they plan to trip - if they say anything other than "absolutely not", be prepared to have them change their minds once at the festival grounds. Have a separate ride home and do not start to argue with them after they've taken anything.

You can enjoy festivals sober, for sure - lots of people do it every day, all summer long! But if the people with whom you'd be enjoying the festival aren't there for the same reasons as you, you might want to find alternative plans.
posted by theraflu at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you decide to confront them - give them a chance to dispel the rumor first. It may not even be true.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 2:55 PM on June 11, 2012

Well, there's nothing really wrong with an ultimatum here. You won't go if they're doing drugs. They know that's what you've said, so why is it a problem to show them that you're serious? If it causes drama, that's really their problem. I've done similar things (avoided or left events) and none of my friends have ever thought it was a big deal. It's possible your friends will be more dramatic about it if they are deliberately lying to you already, but to emphasise, that's their choice, and it's not a good idea to avoid this 'set' of drama by finding yourself at an event you don't want to be at anymore with friends who are trampling your clearly expressed wishes for no good reason.

(I am assuming here that this is something like Sasquatch where alternative transport would be unreasonable and you don't actually want to go and hang out on your own the whole time).
posted by jacalata at 2:55 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is there any one person going who is in your camp and definitely not into the drug thing? If so, make sure to buddy up with that person early on so that you don't feel singled out or lonely (or like the lone babysitter of your annoyingly blitzed friends).

Agreed on having your own way home, or ideally a way to ditch the lame stoners when you get bored with them.
posted by Sara C. at 2:55 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Create a new tradition. Invite a friend who doesn't do drugs to go with all of you. When they start up, hang out with the friend you invited. Go in separate cars.

Next year, just go with the friend you invited this year.
posted by Houstonian at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2012 [22 favorites]

I think you would be setting yourself up for disappointment to hope that these folks are not going to do drugs at this music festival; I think it's possible that even if they swear in advance that they won't, it's going to avalanche once they get there. Do you have any other non-drug using friends you could invite to go with you? You could be a little offshoot of the main group- drive up together, have your own blanket, roam around together, etc.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't think an ultimatum is what you want here. It's their choice to do drugs, and it's your choice not to. You should come out and ask them "hey, are you guys planning on doing a boatload of drugs at the concert, because if so, I'd rather know now so I can plan my own ride."

Like others have said, I suspect that they may not plan to do "tons" of drugs but they might get swept up into the scene once there.
posted by Sal and Richard at 3:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was invited to a rave by a friend who used drugs (I did not). I ended up just doing the stuff I enjoyed (dancing endlessly, getting lost int he music, etc..) and it was pretty easy to just say 'no thanks' if anything was offered to me. This was a pretty chill, mostly hallucinogens/pot situation, though - I have never been around people who did harder things.

The dynamic with your friends is a little distressing, though, and I can see why you feel betrayed. It is possible they are toning things down but still are going to use - that is they didn't deliberately lie to you. It is also possible they think your feelings about drugs are "silly" or "stupid" and so want to try to trick you into using. A lot of how you react, I think, depends on their goals for having you around.

The nice thing about big music festivals, though, is there are a lot of people, and usually a lot of things to look at or do. Meaning, if your friends start acting in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, you can just... go elsewhere. Explore.

Good luck.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:17 PM on June 11, 2012

If you're willing to ditch them, plan to be able to ditch them if they start using. Problem solved.

If you're not willing to ditch them, ask one of them (whoever you can trust the most on this issue) point-blank if they or the others are planning to use. If they say no, ask them to hang out with you sober in the event the rest of the group decides to change their minds. If they say yes, back out right then - only give an explanation if asked after the fact (then it's not an ultimatum.)

I have learned that there are things my friends enjoy doing that I can't join in on because they engage in behavior (heavy drinking) that makes it not-fun for me. You may need to find new "going to festivals with" companions.

Also, one of the reasons some people stop being heavy partiers as they get older, is that the friends they like to hang out with in general stop going along with things when the partying gets to be too heavy. Wheedling and dealing and dragging out promises isn't nearly as effective as saying "not this week guys, I'm not into that kind of fun" in terms of getting people to stop behaving in a way that distresses you.

(There are, indeed, some people who won't ever be willing to tone this behavior down. Usually you figure out who those people are going to be by the time they're about 30, as far as I can tell.)
posted by SMPA at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I just don't want to go if that's what they're going for.

It sure seems like what they're going for, so if it were me, I wouldn't go. This would be preferable to going and having some sort of pre-set agreement with them that might be unrealistic and then being sad and feeling alone when all your friends are doing drugs and you are not. I was the non-drug doer person at a lot of these events and I feel like it was sort of difficult to pre-arrange stuff with folks who may be more spur of the moment planners and it wasn't really fair to me or to them to try to then pretend like we had agreed on something when I felt like my friends might change their minds later depending on what happened because that's really what they wanted to do. I feel like if you go to something with a significant other, it's fine to make more hard and fast agreements but with friends it's a little ... overbearing [and I say this as me having been that person, not saying you are doing this].

So for you I'd either not go or make sure you have another non-drug-taking friend going with you and/or being your ride. Festivals can be fun with or without drugs but it's a totally fine [if tricky] boundary to set to not want to be with people doing drugs and if your friends read drama into it, that's sort of their problem. You don't have to be judgmental about it, just looking out for your own interests and deciding what would make the festival fun for you.
posted by jessamyn at 3:26 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Would you have fun at the festival if you were to go alone, or is it only going to be enjoyable if you're with your friends? Because it seems to me that you can hang out with them for a while, and then wander away when they start to become a drag (and, really, I know you're worried about coming off as a buzz-kill here, but there are some drugs that make people really, really boring to be around, and you don't need to be some kind of D.A.R.E. drug warrior to not want to be subjected to that).
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2012

Don't make your enjoyment of this festival (or anything else) contingent on your friends' sobriety or lack thereof. If you would enjoy the festival on your own, go. If not, don't.

If you go and your friends happen to have their shit together enough that you can enjoy hanging out with them, bonus.
posted by adamrice at 3:38 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with you here - I've been the non drinking/drug taking friend amongst a bunch of friends hell bent on getting wasted, and the one thing that made the difference between still having a fun time and having it turn into a waste of time and money is autonomy.

If you are in possession of your physical ticket to the festival(e.g. you bought it yourself instead of going in on a group buy, and your friend has it), and you've arranged your own transportation to the event, AND it was a festival you want to go to ANYWAYS, I'd go. If they get all druggy, just wander off on your own, and if they ask why, just say that you need some space. No need for an ultimatum or 'drama' on their drug use, you just enjoyed the festival in a different way than they did.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I get the feeling that this might be one of those festivals where you camp out, in which case "getting your own ride" doesn't help anything at all. You'd have to find someone else to stay with.

I would just confront them, respectfully. Just ask if they are planning to be tripping out of their minds, and if so, you're just not going to go. You don't need to make them feel guilty or anything, just be honest.
posted by King Bee at 3:57 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also - don't feel guilty if you ultimately decide not to go. There's an event that a bunch of my friends are going to, and I know that it's going to be really obnoxious because of the amount of drinking that they all are going to do. After thinking about it, I chose not to go after all, and my friends are still my friends - they understand that it's not for everyone. And the ones that do have a problem with it? They probably won't stay my friends for long.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:57 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they're taking drug orders right now, they're going to be doing drugs. I totally sympathize with you -- I love to drink, but I am not at all into drugs, even the soft ones, and back when I hung out with people who liked to indulge, it made me feel guilty about being THE BUZZKILL. (I solved this problem by stopping socializing with people who did a ton of drugs, but that doesn't solve your current issue.) I think, either decide not to go -- because they are going to be doing drugs and then you'll get all uptight about it and have no fun (I say this as someone would who have literally the exact same reaction to all of this, so trust me when I say that "uptight" is not me being judgmental about it) -- or go with another friend who you know will maintain a similar level of sobriety as you will. You and this friend can travel together and meet up with the group if you want. If they start tripping balls, you have a friend to bail with and go enjoy the rest of the festival on your own terms.

I don't think you should be all, "are you guys doing drugs??? THEN I'M NOT GOING," though, if you don't want to make it A Thing. Because the truth is that "we got SO WASTED. Next year, we need to chill," is not at all the same thing as promising you that they weren't going to do drugs, or that they were just going to do softer drugs, or whatever. It's more like how when you have a terrible hangover, the next day you promise you're not going to drink as much at the next wedding, or whatever, but by the time the next wedding rolls around, you're up at the bar. That kind of yammering is usually just sound and fury. It's not like they said to you SPECIFICALLY, "hey, come with us, no drugs this year" -- right? (I might have misunderstood you. If they DID say that, this is extra not cool) So they didn't really betray you, as much as I think you might have gone into this with a bit of wishful-thinking-rose-colored glasses on, you know what I mean?

But if I were you, I would go with another friend -- maybe one not in this particular group -- who you know is trustworthy and awesome, and who you can trust to be on the same page as you are in terms of how you want this to go. That gives you the freedom to have some autonomy without also requiring you to be a loner. (I would go with you if I knew you!)
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:59 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

(PS: If this is Burning Man, though, and you have to camp with them, it's a little more logistically complex than something like, say, Coachella, and I....would probably bail in order to save myself a weekend of agita. Do something else fun that weekend instead.)
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:01 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds clear from what you've seen about the preparations that your friends are going to be tripping at the concert. Either go with other, non-drug friends; or sell your ticket and just let your friends know, hey, it sounds like the plan is to do some tripping, and I didn't feel like being the only one not involved, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to go.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:10 PM on June 11, 2012

To cause the least amount of drama: tell your friends you can't go, because something came up with work or school or a medical thing or whatever, and then ask them if they know someone that would want to buy your ticket.
posted by box at 4:33 PM on June 11, 2012

I feel like it's kind of lame to hide this from me, knowing the way I'd feel about it.

This would be my cue to sell my ticket and opt out of the event.

The fact that they are being furtive about it suggests to me that you might be walking into a very uncomfortable group dynamic at the event. I've been on both sides of this equation, and it's just kinda angsty in either role (sober person or party person). I recall my late 20s as being a time marked by these types of difficult scenarios, as some people in our circle fell away from the scene, and others stayed in.

In theory, yes, you can go, and go your own way once there; but in practice, I found that to be awkward and somewhat stressful. There always seemed to be some drama that needed to be tended to (friends missing in action; car trouble; someone dropping from heat exhaustion), and it's hard to distance yourself from it entirely.

I'd take a pass on it.
posted by quivering_fantods at 5:11 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just don't want to go if that's what they're going for. The problem is, I don't know how to approach that. I could sell my ticket, but without asking if what I heard was true and they're planning a trip-fest, I can't be sure I'm not overreacting. But if I do, it will almost certainly seem like a Big Move if I then cancel my ticket. Worse, if they ask why I'm asking, I'll have to say why and then it will seem like an ultimatum.

As someone who went to a lot of music festivals where i got trashed on drugs, it's pretty likely that they will barely notice whether you are there or not, and will probably not miss you if you don't go.

That said, when I went to shows sober with my friends that were on drugs, I just hung out with different people while I was there and checked in on them every once in a while. Will there literally be no one there you know that is going to be sober?
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Hey, guys, what's your current plan about using at the festival? You know that I don't care whether you do or not, but it's boring as hell to be the only sober person when everyone else is high, so if you're going to be getting wasted, I think I'll give it a miss."
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm with Countess Sandwich. I'm a social drinker who has never been interested in drugs, though I've known - and dated - a lot of people who are. Even if I don't want to, I can get very uptight when everyone else is getting high, and it makes those situations absolutely no fun for me. If you can arrange your own way home in case everyone else you're with is getting high and you want to get out, great. If not, maybe you should bag this now.
posted by Wet Hen at 6:27 PM on June 11, 2012

I've gone to events where acquaintances got high. I don't do drugs. The following works for me: Acquaintance: do you want any drugs? Me: no thanks. Acquaintance: then does drugs and we're all good. The key is the lack of drama in the exchange. It's like my friend is asking if you want a soda, and I don't want a soda. It's ok to do something different than the larger group.

If it's the behavior of your friends when stoned or the drugs themselves that bother you, rather than the feeling of being left out because you're not doing drugs with them, not hanging out with them when they're stoned is a perfectly fine thing to do.

If it's the hiding of the activity, then you can say before the event 'you guys don't have to hide your drug use, I just don't want to do them too. Are we all good?'

But yeah, if they're doing drugs and that itself, or their behavior while stoned, isn't ok with you, then either figure out if you can not care about their behavior, go to the event but take breaks from hanging out with them when you need to, or don't hang out with them at the event.
posted by zippy at 6:30 PM on June 11, 2012

Does the festival have bands you're actually interested in or are you going purely because your friends are going?

If you're interested in the music too, then I'd say something like, "Hey guys, don't expect me to babysit you at the festival" before you go.

If not, I'd be honest and tell them you are not comfortable going to a festival you're pretty meh about with friends who won't really be there because they'll be high out of their minds.
posted by astapasta24 at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2012

I also vote for bringing a friend that won't fry their face off, and having your own way home. Do not depend on these people for a ride or to even be the companions that you want at this festival. If you can't get a friend to go with you, then I recommend that you give it a miss.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:47 PM on June 11, 2012

Another for the take someone who is not going to be doing drugs, enjoy the show independently, or don't bother. I suspect that people who are giving advice re: how to have fun alongside them doing drugs or how to not offend them when you reject their drugs are missing the point. The OP does not enjoy being in the company of these people when they take drugs. Which personally I think is pretty understandable and does not have to be a judgement of the drug taking at all (though it may be, which is also okay surely). People who are in a different state of consciousness to you tend not to be great company for you.

So I think you either do the ultimatum (which as others have pointed out may not be terribly reliable or may come across as overly confrontational to people for whom this is not a big deal) or you just accept that this gig is not really one in which they are part of the fun. Better to be prepared for that eventuality, I think.

Can also relate to the experience of this ultimately being a big of a shaper of social circles, ultimately. For the exact reasons you identify-- their way of having fun is different to yours. After a while you might want to be with people who want to have fun in a similar way to you.
posted by jojobobo at 2:29 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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