One of my favorite parts of the EDM community is the love and respect we give each other. I love that so many humans from all walks of life come together for their mutual love of music. Every raver has their own story. Since I’m new here at EDM Maniac, I thought I would share mine of becoming a clean raver with you.

I was introduced to the rave scene my freshman year of college and immediately fell in love. The sweaty, underground, bright light packed, high energy EDM events I found that year were right up my alley.

Rave, Ohio,
At a rave back in college (2011).

Sophomore year I began interning for one of the local rave organizations. While my love of EDM began to grow that year, so did my love for drinking and drugs. Partying was my thing, and being at a “party school” at Ohio University, I didn’t think anything was wrong.

I felt like all these drugs enhanced my experiences, especially at raves. But in reality, I couldn’t remember a damn thing and I was constantly winding up making embarrassing mistakes or having serious health issues. Things only continued to get worse though.

My life took a nosedive over the next couple years. More drugs and harder drugs until it wasn’t just once every couple weeks. It was every week, then every week turned to every day, every day turned into every hour and before I knew it I couldn’t do anything without being high for it.

Finally, my senior year, six weeks shy of graduation, I checked myself into intensive outpatient rehab. I was ready to face my drug addiction and alcoholism head on, or so I thought.

They told me I had to change everything: people, places and things which meant no more raves for awhile, maybe even forever. I was devastated but I still had my music, and no one could take that away from me.

So I got clean and it was an emotional rollercoaster. I banged some old school Excision when I was pissed, cried when a song hit me right in the feels and bounced around to some Tiesto when I hit a clean time milestone. Slowly I was learning how to live, feel and find out who I really was. Some of my “interests” from when I was using slowly vanished when I got clean. Honestly, I was scared that EDM would be one of those but my love for the music just got stronger.

A couple months shy of having two years clean, I found another good friend in recovery who also was into EDM and we decided to try and go to a show, clean, together. I was nervous about this show for sure… would I be able to handle the drinking and using around me? How was I supposed to let loose and be myself without being high?

Then I remembered what the whole point of P.L.U.R was. I had this epiphany that I didn’t need to be high to be myself, that I didn’t have to care what everyone else thought about me as I danced my worries away. I had my friend, my recovery and my music and that’s all I needed to worry about.

It was the best experience of my life. At one point, I just remember just closing my eyes and feeling the music vibrate around me and realizing that this is what true happiness was for me. It was way better than any show I had ever been to using because I got to appreciate and remember every second of it. I also wasn’t hungover the next day which was a total plus. 

Rocking a “Hugs not Drugs” outfit during the second weekend of Electric Forest 2017.
The clean and sober group camp, Camp Traction, at the second weekend of Electric Forest 2017.

Since then, I’ve been to more than a dozen shows and two festivals clean with more planned in the near future. My friends and I made Electric Forest our first festival because of “Camp Traction,” the sober group campground that held recovery support meetings every morning. “The Jellyfish,” sober followers of String Cheese Incident, also hosted meetings inside the venue.

Does it get difficult sometimes? Absolutely. Sometimes I see people using at festivals and it makes me a little bit uncomfortable. But that’s the best part of having my entire crew with me who are also clean, I have them to fall back on when I need to. They help me remember that I personally can’t use successfully. That I can’t just have a drink or smoke a little weed, it’s either I’m clean or I’m ruining my life there is no in-between. But that’s just me, and only my experience.

Back to that love and respect I talked about in the beginning… I don’t do drugs. People have offered but never pushed. I respect their choices and they respect mine. I’ve never felt out of place because I’m clean if anything, I feel like I can appreciate the experience and my fellow ravers around me that much more.

The music is the only high I need.