Tue. May 24th, 2022

Home Office-backed drug-testing scheme ‘could save thousands of lives’

The service allows people to bring in a small sample of drugs and have it analysed by professionals, without fear of arrest.

A new drug-checking scheme that tests illicit substances for users before they take them could save thousands of lives in Britain each year, according to a charity.

The first ever Home Office-backed drug-checking initiative allows people to walk in off the street with a small sample of a drug and have it analysed by qualified medical professionals, without fear of arrest.Sponsored link

The test takes 10 minutes and users are then advised about what the sample contains.

Roz Gittins from the charity Addaction, which is carrying out the trial, said the project was “groundbreaking” and would “save lives”.

“When someone is better informed about what it is that they are anticipating taking, they can make a more informed decision about whether or not they want to do so,” she said.

“We do not in any way condone drug use. And it’s important to point out that the samples are not given back to the person who brought them in.”

New drug-checking scheme. Brady VT
Image:’Knowing what you are taking is the key to keeping yourself safe,’ says Christine Barton

There were 3,756 deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2017, according to the charity.

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Addaction hopes that if the Home Office-backed pilot is successful it will be rolled out on a nationwide basis and will dramatically reduce the number of people dying each year from drug use in Britain.

“Overdose rates are going up and death rates are also going up,” said Christine Barton, from Addaction, who works with recovering addicts in Somerset as they try to rebuild their lives.

“If people are a little bit suspect about what it is they have, they can bring a little bit of it here and have it tested. Purity levels are up and down the whole time.

“If people are used to a low level and a new dealer brings in something that’s high, that can cause problems. Knowing what you are taking is the key to keeping yourself safe.”

New drug-checking scheme
Image:Addaction hopes to allow people to make more informed decisions about drug use

A similar pilot scheme is currently being trialled in Australia, though the idea to test drugs for users was originally conceived in the Netherlands.

The testing takes place in a small room at the Addaction base in Weston-super-Mare, north Somerset, and is carried out by Dr Amira Guirguis from the University of Hertfordshire, who worked on the idea for her PhD.

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