A- A A+

Drug Checking - From guerrilla to government agent: the full spectrum of drug checking services

The aim of the special issue is twofold. On the one hand, it capitalises on the momentum generated by the growing scientific and political interest in drug checking to present some of the latest insights and models of drug checking to a diverse audience of academics, policymakers and professionals. On the other hand, it explores some of the limitations of the scientific literature to date (for recent reviews, see Giulini et al., 2022; Maghsoudi et al., 2021; Palamar et al., 2021), which has tended to focus on micro-level variables (e.g. evaluations of technologies or individual behavioural change; e.g. Harper et al., 2017), to the neglect of variables located at the meso-level (including impact at community or event level; but see, e.g. Wallace et al., 2021), or macro-level analyses (such as the effects of drug checking on international drug markets or public health indicators such as national mortality and morbidity) [1]. Additionally, to date, the vast majority of studies on drug checking have been carried out in the Western European context (Maghsoudi et al., 2021) and therefore additional efforts were made by the guest editorial team to directly support submissions to this special issue from other parts of the world such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and Oceania. (The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), UK, Januar 2023)


Substance Use Stigma and Community Drug Checking: A Qualitative Study Examining Barriers and Possible Responses. 

Davis S, Wallace B, Van Roode T, Hore D. 

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 30;19(23):15978. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192315978. PMID: 36498052; PMCID: PMC9740784.


Everywhere and for everyone: proportionate universalism as a framework for equitable access to community drug checking. 

Wallace B, van Roode T, Burek P, Hore D, Pauly B. 

Harm Reduct J. 2022 Dec 20;19(1):143. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00727-0. PMID: 36539747; PMCID: PMC9763810.


Substanzproben einschicken?

Im NEWS-Projekt ist es möglich und sogar wünschenswert, wenn Substanzproben eingeschickt werden. Diese werden anschließend vom IFT anonymisiert und dann an das EU-Projekt ADEBAR plus zur Analyse geschickt. Die Ergebnisse werden daraufhin an das NEWS-Netzwerk übermittelt. (mindzone (IFT), München, Dezember 2022)


Schnelltests gegen Notfälle durch illegales Fentanyl

Illegal hergestelltes Fentanyl taucht auch in Deutschland als lebensgefährliche Beimengung zu Straßenheroin auf. Ein Modellprojekt der Deutschen Aidshilfe mit Fentanyl-Schnelltests soll Drogengebraucher*innen schützen.

Am 1. Dezember 2022 ist das Bundesmodellprojekt „Rapid Fentanyl Tests in Drogenkonsumräumen“ (RAFT) gestartet, das erste Projekt zur Feststellung von Fentanyl-Beimischungen in Straßenheroin in Europa. RAFT wird vom Bundesgesundheitsministerium gefördert, von der Deutschen Aidshilfe geleitetet und in zehn Drogenkonsumräumen im Bundesgebiet umgesetzt. (Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe, 09.12.2022)


Who uses drug checking services? Assessing uptake and outcomes at English festivals in 2018

Fiona Measham and Henry Simmons

DRUGS, HABITS AND SOCIAL POLICY, VOL. 23 NO. 3 2022, DOI 10.1108/DHS-02-2022-0008


A distributed model to expand the reach of drug checking

Bruce Wallace, Lea Gozdzialski, Abdelhakim Qbaich, Azam Shafiul, Piotr Burek, Abby Hutchison, Taylor Teal, Rebecca Louw, Collin Kielty, Derek Robinson, Belaid Moa, Margaret-Anne Storey, Chris Gill and Dennis Hore

DRUGS, HABITS AND SOCIAL POLICY, VOL. 23 NO. 3 2022, DOI 10.1108/DHS-01-2022-0005


Substance residue analysis as an alternative to drug checking? Traces from drug paraphernalia as a source for laboratory analysis

Teemu Kaskela, Ronja Järvelin, Janne Nahkuri, Teemu Gunnar, Aino Kankaanpää, Anna Pelander and Miina Kajos

DRUGS, HABITS AND SOCIAL POLICY, VOL. 23 NO. 3 2022, DOI 10.1108/DHS-12-2021-0063


USA. NYC launches drug checking program to spot fentanyl before people overdose

Tammy Hogan said she was grateful for OnPoint NYC when her husband began to overdose in the Bronx. She dragged him onto the subway down to Harlem, where she ran into the overdose prevention center to alert staff. Trained health specialists quickly leaped into action, rushing through the crowded lounge. Outside, they found the 65-year-old still conscious, but holding onto a streetlight and struggling to move.

They got him inside and settled in a comfortable chair with an oxygen mask. Hogan, still visibly shaken, lamented the state of the drug supply. She said her husband had been “doing dope since he was a kid,” implying that he had some tolerance for opioids.

Hogan wanted to know exactly what her husband had taken — and how much. Thanks to a sophisticated new drug checking program the city health department is piloting at OnPoint NYC and other centers that serve drug users, that was easy to find out. (The Gothamist, USA, 07.12.2022)


UK. Bristol drug-checking service gains charity status

The UK's first Home Office licensed drug-checking service has been granted charity status.

The Loop, which run pop-up sites, including at music festivals, plans to launch a regular testing site in Bristol in January.

Its new chief executive, Katy Porter, said the recognition as a charity would help more people reach its services and "important" information.

That will "greatly assist in reducing drug-related harm", she added. (BBC, 18.11.2022)


Beyond co-production: The construction of drug checking knowledge in a Canadian supervised injection facility. 

Betsos A, Valleriani J, Boyd J, McNeil R. 

Soc Sci Med. 2022 Jul 21;314:115229. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115229. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36274456.



UK. Drug checking services make festivals safer, research shows

New research has found that drug checking services at festivals reduce the possibility of drug-related harm, provide opportunities for targeted health interventions amongst higher risk drug users and, on balance, do not result in increased quantities of drugs being consumed.

Research published in a special issue of the journal Drugs, Habits and Social Policy focused on drug checking, analysed the provision of drug checking services available to hundreds of thousands of festival-goers over three years (2016-2018).

The study was the first of its kind that assessed both the positive and negative impact of providing drug checking across a three-year period. (University of Liverpool, UK, 08.11.2022)


Drug-Checking - Regulierungs- und Förderbedarfe

Das Positionspapier entstand im Zusammenhang mit dem Fachtag Drug-Checking am 15.06.2022 in Frankfurt/Main, der vom Bundesministerium für Gesundheit gefördert wurde.

Herausgeber: akzept e.V. - Bundesverband für akzeptierende Drogenarbeit und humane Drogenpolitik & Deutsche Aidshilfe e.V.


Law Enforcement and Community Provision of Fentanyl Test Strips to People Who Use Drugs for Engagement and Referral to Services. 

Olson R, Case P, Palacios WR, Hunter A, Lopes-McCoy V, Green TC. 

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2022 Nov-Dec 01;28(Suppl 6):S343-S346. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001576. PMID: 36194804; PMCID: PMC9531966.


Warnmeldung: MDA statt MDMA

(mindzone, München, 04.11.2022)


Implementation and Uptake of the Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream: A Statewide Public Health-Public Safety Partnership Drug Checking Program. 

Green TC, Olson R, Jarczyk C, Erowid E, Erowid F, Thyssen S, Wightman R, Del Pozo B, Michelson L, Consigli A, Reilly B, Ruiz S. 

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2022 Nov-Dec 01;28(Suppl 6):S347-S354. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001581. PMID: 36194805; PMCID: PMC9531987.


UK. Glastonbury Festival may have to review drug testing policy

Glastonbury Festival might have to change its drug testing policy as part of a review of its licence.

The licence for the event, at Worthy Farm in Somerset, includes a management plan aimed at keeping attendees safe.

As part of the plan, drugs surrendered or confiscated on site are tested by a private company, and overall figures on seizures are not given to the police. (BBC, UK, 30.10.2022)


Neuseeland. Music festival organisers and drug-checking clinics set for unrestricted summer season

New Zealand's new drug-checking legislation will be put to the test in what looks set to be the first unrestricted music festival season since the pandemic began.

Events can now license drug-checking clinics on location after the government brought in legislation to allow for substances to be tested on-site to ensure they are not laced. (RNZ - Radio New Zealand, Neuseeland, 31.10.2022)


Irland. Results from Irelands first back of house drug testing

The HSE National Social Inclusion Office has launched their findings from Ireland’s first ‘back of house’ drug testing pilot programme. National Social Inclusion - Health Service Executive, Irland, Oktober 2022)


Mindzone (Bayern): Hier findest du alle Warnmeldungen aus dem NEWS-Projekt

„Freizeitdrogen“ sind ein brisantes Thema. Die meisten Jugendlichen kommen damit irgendwann einmal in Berührung und viele konsumieren sie auch. Suchtgefahren und körperliche Risiken werden dabei oft verharmlost oder unterschätzt.

Dem steuern wir mit unseren Aktionen in der Partyszene entgegen. Dabei vermitteln wir folgende Botschaften:

Spaß, Ausgelassenheit und friedliches Beisammensein machen eine gute Party aus. Drogen – egal welcher Art sind dafür nicht nötig. Wenn du dich trotzdem entscheidest, Drogen zu nehmen, informiere dich ausführlich über die dabei auftretenden Gesundheitsrisiken Wenn du Probleme mit Partydrogen hast, dann dient dir mindzone als Ansprechpartner und vermittelt dir professionelle Hilfe. (mondzone, 21.10.2022)


Irland. In a landmark harm reduction move, drug testing is to be piloted at the Electric Picnic - It's part of the HSE's #SaferNightLife initiative

History will be made at the Electric Picnic as the Health Service Executive operates Ireland’s first pilot drug testing service. It will involve back-of-the-house testing with festival-goers able to deposit drugs in Surrender bins in the HSE Harm Reduction Tent and other medical facilities. If any causes for concern arise from the resulting chemical analysis – unusually high potency, dangerous contaminants etc. – warnings will be issued through social media channels. (Hotprees, Irland, 18.10.2022)


Challenges for drug checking services in Scotland: a qualitative exploration of police perceptions. 

Falzon, D., Aston, E.V., Carver, H. et al.

Harm Reduct J 19, 105 (2022). doi.org/10.1186/s12954-022-00686-6


A Realist Review of How Community-Based Drug Checking Services Could Be Designed and Implemented to Promote Engagement of People Who Use Drugs. 

Masterton W, Falzon D, Burton G, Carver H, Wallace B, Aston EV, Sumnall H, Measham F, Gittins R, Craik V, Schofield J, Little S, Parkes T. 

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(19):11960. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191911960


Check It: How Drug Testing Programs Can Reduce Overdose Deaths 

(…) Whether the goal is to prevent overdoses, treat addiction, or stop kids from using drugs, all effective drug strategies require empathy and compassion for human suffering. Even before COVID-19, America had a deficit of these resources, and the pandemic has further stretched our capacity for caring, leaving little surplus for what may seem to many like consequences that result from discretionary and irresponsible individual behaviors. Until we can evolve into a society that is more inclusive of different ways of being and commits to easing human suffering, drug checking technologies offer a means to reduce deaths that result from adulterated drugs. This is good news for a problem that has been intractable for so long. If only we could summon the empathy and compassion needed to garner the will of legislators to embrace the life-saving power that drug checking puts in people’s hands. (Baker Institute, USA, 02.09.2022)


Australien. Pill-testing research shows governments need to do more

A new study monitoring a community-led pill-testing service at a music festival has found the vast majority of attendees would discard drugs found to contain unexpected substances — which could have a big impact on preventing overdoses and drug-related deaths. (Edith Cowan University, Australien, 31.08.2022)


USA. Saving lives by testing illicit drugs for secret, often-deadly ingredients

In a toxicology lab at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, a team of Brown University researchers has been testing samples labeled "biohazard" to discover the precise nature of their toxicity. The bags contain drug residue from discarded drug paraphernalia collected from harm reduction organizations in local communities. 

Once samples are tested, findings are disseminated through print flyers, social media posts and emails from the Rhode Island Department of Health. Results are also made available on PreventOversodeRI.org, the state's overdose dashboard developed through a partnership with the Brown School of Public Health. Sample donors are contacted and provided with information regarding the contents of the residue they submitted for testing. The results can be a surprise—to the sample testers and sample donors alike. (Brown University, USA, 29.07.2022)


USA. The NIDA-funded National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), Coordinating Center at UF 

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), funded to the University of Florida by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), provides the field with timely, salient, and valuable information on emerging substance use trends. (National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), Juli 2022)


Kanada. A Report on British Columbia’s Unregulated Drug Supply - Drug checking trends across British Columbia January to December 2021

BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), Juni 2022


Australien. Australia's first fixed-site pill testing to open in Canberra in bid for harm reduction

The nation's first fixed-site pill and drug testing clinic will open its doors in the ACT on Thursday, in a bid to reduce the harm caused by drugs.

Key points:

+ The fixed-site pill-testing clinic is being launched as a six-month pilot

+ The ACT government says the site is aimed at reducing the harm caused by drugs through "evidence-based health interventions"

+ The ACT recorded the highest drug-induced deaths per capita in June

The CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service will be located in Canberra's CBD and will offer the free, confidential testing of drugs. (abc.net.au, Australien, 19.07.2022)


Schottland. RADAR: Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response

Radar, a system to collect, assess and communicate information about street drugs being used in Scotland. (Public Health Scotland, Schottland, Juni 2022)