Energy Control

Author: Sergi ad Dharma
Date: Jul 27, 2010
Views: 2117

Safer use, risk reduction and responsible drug usage: An extensive interview with Nuria from Spanish party project "Energy Control".

1. What is Energy Control (EC)? When was it founded, where and why? Who takes part in EC?


EC is an informative, advice and drug testing project, well framed in the nightlife recreational contexts.

It was born in 1997, in the Centre of Attention for Drug Addiction of the neighbourhood of Sants in the city of Barcelona, by the hand of professionals and young people coming from the party scene.

Our entity, the Association for Well-being and Development, one of the first entities to work in the field of drugs in Catalonia, started to detect new trends/patterns of consumption and also new drugs related to leisure. The profile of the drug user that was being attended was changing: from a heroin addict, that used drugs intravenously, with great social and medical problems, with a high level of exclusion and social marginalization to a "normal" person (with everything that it entails) who uses drugs at the weekends and that had nothing to do with the heroin addict.

Since the first meeting in 1997, where 7 persons participated, to nowadays we've come a long way. Throughout this past 13 years many people have participated in the project. People with voluntary and militant vocation have contributed with their best.

The ones who participate in the project come mainly from the party scene. Some of us have training in social areas (psychologists, social workers, educators, etc.) and others have scientific education (pharmaceuticals, biologists, laboratory staff, chemists, etc...). We all have the same common objective: that the party goes on, if possible without mishaps.


2. Where are you currently? Where do you intervene and what do you do?

The project was born in Barcelona and over the time it has installed in other regions of the country like Madrid, Baleares and Andalucía. A few years ago we also had a group working in Valencia and another one in Ibiza, but currently they're not active.

Our main activity is the direct intervention in leisure by setting information stands where one can take advice on themes about drug use, analyse the drugs to know what he is going to take and discard its use if necessary, can take a alcohol test to decide whether or not to pick the car, etc.

In Barcelona, every Monday and Thursday on the afternoons we have a drug testing service, free and available to the users. We also receive samples collected from other delegations of EC, from the parties we're at and via postal mail.

Last but not least, we also develop less known activities, but not less important, such as: the intervention with youngsters in schools; training sessions to health staff, professionals of the night; and the work we're doing internationally.


3. What would you highlight as the most important functions of your organization in the context of the leisure culture and of social pedagogy?

Our work lies in fomenting responsible drug use in people that are already using drugs. We come from a position of respect towards drug users - for us it's just as legitimate doing drugs as it is not to - and of acknowledgement that users are persons able to make decisions and be responsible in their drug use. 13 years ago when we started, the leisure sector was closed to us for collaboration. We had to call and insist, but it seems that every club in town claimed that people didn't use drugs in their places. It was then when the rave scene opened its doors to us and valued initiatives such as ours as valuable to be present at their parties. Slowly and fortunately, this began to change. Nowadays we cannot give response to every demand we get and that tells us that something has changed. To change the social speech, to accept that drugs were, are and will be present, that it is needed to learn how to manage pleasures (yes, pleasures, the forbidden word) and risks, to accept that the majority of drug uses are not problematic and that they also need an intervention that is able to give responses to their concerns and needs.

The leisure sector, the professionals that work with adolescents and drugs, the medical system, the administration, etc, recognize and endorse our work. We can affirm that something has changed and, without any doubt, EC has contributed to it.


4. What are the main difficulties that you face to develop your work?

One of them is, without a doubt, the media. We collaborate with them frequently but only very few times we are pleased with their work. We always try to provide a positive vision of youth, of leisure, contextualizing the use of the drugs; we try not to raise the alarm that usually surrounds these themes, but it isn't an easy task.

Another difficulty that we face everyday is the situation of a-legality that we have concerning the drug testing service. Although we have never had any problem with it, we are under a situation of risk because by handling substances forbidden by law we incur in a serious fault and we could even be sanctioned. We hope we don't! In France, the coordinator of Tecnho Plus (, Jean Marc Priez has been legally accused of promoting drug use amongst the youth for distributing hygienic sniffing material and avoid the sharing of instruments of consumption. It was a long process, but finally he was absolved from all accusations.


5. How do you keep up with all the new synthetic drugs and new analysis' methodologies?

It's a hard task! The market changes constantly and new chemical substances appear frequently. Without a doubt the direct contact with the user and the beginning, in 2005, of the drug testing service that could analyse a wider range of substances and with more accuracy, gives us the opportunity to be updated with the new trends in the market.

Energy Control has a very potent work commission on what concerns the analysis: a doctor in pharmacy, a biologist, a laboratory technician and several students from medicine and chemistry. Our aim is to give response to the demands we get and that makes us innovate in the laboratory techniques as well as in the communication of results. Without a doubt it's necessary to count with a team who is insatiable of knowledge, a passionate team that puts its heart in every task and that doesn't stop looking for better ways of improving.

The last aspect to comment is the relation and contact with other risk reduction groups of other European countries. Frequently the appearance of new substances in the market happens from north to south and that makes us a privileged country because we can learn what's happening in other countries and anticipate ourselves to intervene in a truly preventive way and with efficacy. This work is developed mainly through the platform and through .


6. Which are the most gratifying achievements of EC through out these years?

The greatest achievement, throughout this past 13 years, is the recognition of our target population, young people who go out to party at weekends and the credibility that we have among them. Knowing that the users don't find useful or truth the information coming from other resources (mass media, teachers, health staff, projects for youth, parents, etc.), to be a point of reference to them is for us a great success. Last month of July we worked in a 2 day festival in Barcelona. By the time the festival was closing, a young girl approached us and yelled "Thank you for being here Energy Control!!!" To us this is the best reward, to see that the work we make is recognized and our intervention in the festivals has sense.

Other related professionals, of health, education, leisure or media, as well as other entities and administration also have EC as a reference point on what concerns youth, drugs and night, due to the fact that we are in a privileged position as participant observers in the night and by the fact that we can get where other professionals can't.

In general, the most significant achievement comes from the accomplishment of the objectives that we set. It is beautiful to work for a dream and be able to reach it, materialize it, see it born and grow. What's hard is when you don't have your objectives clear, but once they are it's up to gather forces to seek it slowly. In the past 13 years there have been many dreams reached and that motivates us to keep going.


7 - What is your part in the world of psychedelic culture?

We have been collaborating with the trance psychedelic scene since many years, with different collectives that set parties in our territory (Madrid, Cataluña, Andalucía and Baleares). Besides, part of our group shares the taste for trance music, therefore it's a great pleasure to attend and participate as EC in this type of events.

We try to adapt our interventions to the places we go, which means that we adapt the materials to the needs of the users. In trance festivals the presence of psychedelics and hallucinogenic drugs is higher; therefore we need to seek information and tools to provide info on safer patterns of use. Aiming this, in 2001 we edited a material about LSD, in 2004 one about mushrooms and in 2005 an extended document about Research Chemicals. In the past year we counted with the help of other projects that are a reference to us, like Erowid (, Bluelight (, Lycaeum (, Cannabiscafe (( or Drugs Forum (


8. Recommendation to the festivals

 Don't forget that:

-          The festival has relax areas, think that there are many hours in witch one can do a lot of things: walk, listen to music, know other people, dance, take a breath, kiss ...

-          You have free access to water and areas to cool down in the hours of most heat. Use caps, sunglasses and sunblock cream to protect you from the sun.

-          At the entrance there are maps of the event with medical services pointed, in case you feel bad or you get injured or need to take someone there.

-          Prudency is a good trip companion, rest before you take your car so that the day after you can have a good memory of the festival.

-          Eat while you're at the festival, it will make you feel better and you will recover faster. There's fruit and food at the festival.

-          Respect yourself and the others, people come to have fun and enjoy the festival, not to put up with your bad moods.

-          If you decide to take drugs it's important you have useful and clear information.


Our intention is to inform and to help manage pleasures and risks.

However what's beyond any doubt is that taking drugs always entails a risk.

If you decide to take that risk this next recommendations should be useful to you.



Taking too much increase the risks and can bring you problems. Pay attention:

1 - Before the party try to establish how much you are going to take...and then do it! We all know latter at the party you will probably want more and more.

2 - Take under consideration that if you're having a bad personal moment or you're depressed, drugs can act as an amplifier of those problems rather than help or solve them.

3 - Respect the will of the ones who want to take drugs and the ones who don't. To take drugs is a personal decision. If you don't want to use any drug, than don't!

4 - Take under consideration that doing drugs in places where access is easy entails a greater risk of taking one to many than what we initially planned.  For example, working nights, going to some places, etc.

5 - If you're in doubt whether to take a drug or not, it's best if you wait for another moment when you're sure about it.

6 - Try to save drugs for especial occasions only.



The adverse effects or bad trips occur when the way of consumption entails some complications (too much, too frequently, mixing several substances, etc.)

If a bad trip occurs, stop using!

To avoid bad trips one should take under advice that:

1 - The same consumption affects different people in a different way. It's important to know how a substance affects yourself.

2 - There are certain side effects or mood changes (lack of communication with people outside the party, susceptibility, irritability, and trouble to react and confront problems...) that are interpreted as normal when they could be warning signs that tell us we should have a break in the consumption.

3 - Regarding illegal drugs we cannot know for sure its purity and potency. Therefore it's recommended to take little amounts to avoid possible complications. You'll always have time to take more.

4 - Avoid mixing different substances (some mixes can cause unwanted effects or annul the expected ones).

5 - When someone takes drugs, first you get high than you comedown. Be ready for it! Comedowns can be more or less intense and sometimes difficult to bear. Taking more drugs to avoid it can be a mistake: the more you prolong it, the stronger will be the comedown. Attenuating the comedown with more drugs can be the beginning of a higher risk drug use.

6 - Avoid taking drugs alone: always do it with someone you trust and in pleasant environments. If there's any complication they can always help you.

7 - Don't forget that taking illegal drugs in public spaces can lead to legal sanctions.

8 - If you experience a bad trip (either physical or psychological) stop using immediately and if the bad effects don't go away look for specialized attention. 


A responsible drug use is characterized, among other things, by not doing things that are dangerous or unpleasant while being "high".

1 - Driving under the influence of drugs constitutes a risk for oneself and the others.

2 - Avoid using drugs if you're going to do something that is already risky.

3 - Be aware that when someone is high things always look different: for example, some drugs facilitate aggressiveness if someone has already an irritable temperament (be cool, and avoid making trouble with other people). Other drugs can make you feel more secure than your really are.

4 - Sex ... You may experience problems with erection or orgasm. But the worst is if you forget to put it on...

5 - The use or possession of drugs can lead to law troubles.



Núria Calzada

Energy Control

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