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Drug use at music festivals: reducing harm and protecting health and well-being

Trinity research provides vital evidence to underpin new government approaches to harm reduction for drug use at music festival. (Trinitzy College Dublin, Irland, 11.10.2021)


Results from a mobile drug checking pilot program using three technologies in Chicago, IL, USA. 

Karch L, Tobias S, Schmidt C, Doe-Simkins M, Carter N, Salisbury-Afshar E, Carlberg-Racich S. 

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Aug 28;228:108976. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108976. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34536717.



Commentary on Andersen et al.: Time for drug checking for heroin users?. 

Scott, J., and Henderson, G. (2021) 

Addiction, 116: 3113– 3114. doi.org/10.1111/add.15610.


Does the preparation for intravenous administration affect the composition of heroin injections? A controlled laboratory study. 

Andersen, J. M., Bogen, I. L., Karinen, R., Brochmann, G. W., Mørland, J., Vindenes, V., and Boix, F. (2021)

Addiction, 116: 3104– 3112. doi.org/10.1111/add.15492.


Drug use, harm-reduction practices and attitudes toward the utilisation of drug safety testing services in an Irish cohort of festival-goers. 

Ivers, JH., Killeen, N. & Keenan, E. 

Ir J Med Sci (2021). doi.org/10.1007/s11845-021-02765-2


UK. pillreportofficial


Irland. Experts want pilot project to test drugs at music festivals

(…) The report of the HSE-led working group recommends a limited pilot project at festivals – described as ‘back of house’ drug checking – whereby tests are conducted on substances dropped into amnesty bins or following seizures by gardaí or security with no direct interaction with drug users.

These are different from more extensive ‘front of house’ drug checking systems – common at festivals and nightclubs abroad – where people directly hand over substances for analysis and receive results and allow for face-to-face health advice. (Irish Examiner, Irland, 17.09.2021)


Investigation on heroin and cocaine quality in Luxembourg. 

Bourmaud, A., Dahm, G., Meys, F. et al.

Harm Reduct J 18, 97 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s12954-021-00544-x


Third party drug checking: accessing harm reduction services on the behalf of others. 

Larnder, A., Burek, P., Wallace, B. et al.

Harm Reduct J 18, 99 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s12954-021-00545-w


Schweiz/Zürich. Cannabis (Drug-Checking) - Auswertung 1. Halbjahr 2021

Verfasser: Stadt Zürich, Saferparty Streetwork, Zürich, Juli 2021 


Schottland. Researching and developing key components of a new Scottish drug checking programme

The Drug Deaths Taskforce is funding a research project to explore how best to establish drug checking in Scotland. The two-year project (ending in January 2023) aims to build an evidence base for, and facilitate the development of, drug checking services in Scotland across three cities: Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. It will involve interviews with people with experience of drug use, affected family members, and a range of professionals, to gain an understanding of the key opportunities and barriers to providing city-based drug checking services in Scotland. The project will also analyse the international evidence on drug checking, and assess how such findings fit with a Scottish context. (Drug Deaths Taskforce, Schottland, 03.08.2021)


UK. DRUG ALERTS - August 2021 (UK)

Contaminated Heroin in London, Portsmouth & Hampshire areas

Some batches of Heroin that have been tested contains Isotonitazene, an extremely dangerous and potent synthetic opioid reported to be 500x stronger than morphine, so significantly more potent Heroin, which can and has killed. (Release, UK, 17.08.2021)


USA. A New Ketamine Test Kit is Now Available

Morris reagent, when used properly, can reliably differentiate ketamine from other dissociatives. (Dance Safe, USA, 18.08.2021)


What About Drug Checking? Systematic Review and Netnographic Analysis of Social Media. 

Guirguis A, Moosa I, Gittins R, Schifano F. 

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2020;18(10):906-917. doi: 10.2174/1570159X18666200413142632. PMID: 32282305; PMCID: PMC7709144.


Evidence spotlight: drug safety testing 

Rob Calder and Natalie Davies review the literature to see what can be learned about the effectiveness of drug safety testing and what circumstances are necessary for it to reach its full potential. They find that the answer to whether the intervention works depends on what the desired result is, which can vary by country and policy context. (SSA – Society for the Study of Addiction, UK, 23.08.2021)


Start frei: Drug-Checking in Thüringen

Thüringen hat es geschafft! Unser Drug-Checking Pilotprojekt „SubCheck“ der SiT - Suchthilfe in Thüringen ist live und kann auf erste Einsätze zurückschauen. (Drogerie Projekt, 27.07.2021)


City checking: Piloting the UK's first community-based drug safety testing (drug checking) service in 2 city centres.

Measham, F. 

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2020; 86: 420– 428. doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14231


Kanada. Three years in: Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project working to save lives

Service for people using drugs provides anonynous checks for potency, presence of fentanyl. (nanaimobulletin.com, 05.07.2021)


Is expected substance type associated with timing of drug checking service utilization?: A cross-sectional study. 

Beaulieu, T., Wood, E., Tobias, S. et al.

Harm Reduct J 18, 66 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s12954-021-00514-3


Research Adds to Weight of Evidence on People Checking Drugs They Sell

It’s not just people who use drugs making use of drug test kits and machines—people who also sell the substances can, and often do, check their wares for purity and potency. While the near-ubiquity of fentanyl in opioid supplies (besides others) has changed the drug-checking landscape, there’s still much value in accessing the harm reduction strategy, experts say. (Filter, USA, 30.06.2021)


Neuseeland. Early warning system for dangerous drugs reaches online audience of more than a million in a year

An early warning system alerting people about dangerous drugs has reached an audience of more than a million people via social media since it was launched a year ago.

High Alert, operated by Drug Information and Alerts Aotearoa New Zealand (DIANZ) has issued ten public alerts about dangerous drugs including synthetic cannabinoids, benzodiazepines and a toxic chemical sold as MDMA. (Stuff, Neuseeland, 29.06.2021)


The potential impacts of community drug checking within the overdose crisis: qualitative study exploring the perspective of prospective service users. 

Wallace, B., van Roode, T., Pagan, F. et al. 

BMC Public Health 21, 1156 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11243-4


Intentions, actions and outcomes: A follow up survey on harm reduction practices after using an English festival drug checking service. 

Measham F, Turnbull G. 

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 May 7:103270. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103270. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33972157.


Drug checking service influences future behaviour, first ever follow up survey reveals

Professor Fiona Measham said: (…) “What we found is that, given the opportunity, drug users can be careful, considered and cautious, if they are provided with the necessary information.”

Co-author Dr Gavin Turnbull added: “Our findings show that not only does drug checking reduce harm at festivals, but that the information provided enables people to make longer lasting changes to reduce drug-related risks.” (University of Liverpool, UK, 10.05.2021)


Implementing an integrated multi-technology platform for drug checking: Social, scientific, and technological considerations. 

Wallace B, Hills R, Rothwell J, Kumar D, Garber I, van Roode T, Larnder A, Pagan F, Aasen J, Weatherston J, Gozdzialski L, Ramsay M, Burek P, Azam MS, Pauly B, Storey MA, Hore D. 

Drug Test Anal. 2021 Apr;13(4):734-746. doi: 10.1002/dta.3022. Epub 2021 Mar 9. PMID: 33646611.



Neuseeland. Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Act 2020

New Zealand Legislation, Public Act 2020 No 63, Date of assent 7 December 2020


Are Your Illegal Drugs Pure? New Zealand Will Check Them for You.

A law will allow controlled substances to be tested without penalty to ensure their authenticity. The goals are to reduce health risks and, perhaps, change users’ behavior. (New York Times, USA, 09.04.2021)


 Neuseeland. Festival drug testing law to be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says

The Government has given a permanent all-clear for pill testing at summer festivals, allowing partygoers to check whether their illicit drugs have been laced. (NZ Herald. Neuseeland, 09.04.2021)


Commentary - Heroin purity and adulteration: an updated snapshot from the Italian Early Warning System. 

Tittarelli R, di Luca NM, Pacifici R, Pichini S, Del Rio A, Busardò FP. 

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Apr;24(8):4461-4466. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202004_21028. PMID: 32374014.


Drug Checking as Strategy for Harm Reduction in Recreational Contests: Evaluation of Two Different Drug Analysis Methodologies. 

Fregonese M, Albino A, Covino C, Gili A, Bacci M, Nicoletti A, Gambelunghe C.

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Feb 22;12:596895. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.596895. PMID: 33692707; PMCID: PMC7938318.