What a Drug Checking service is
Over the past 20 years the term “Drug Checking” has evolved from European English to refer to a specific type of service, different from the literal translation “to examine a drug to examine its quality or detect the presence of drugs”. This is similar to the use of the phrase “drug testing” in the USA to refer almost exclusively to the analysis of human samples to detect the consumption of drugs.
A Drug Checking service is one which focuses on public health and harm reduction for members of the public, by analyzing drugs to detect their contents and returning the results of each analysis to service users with the intention of helping the user reduce risk exposure without judgement of their decision to consume drugs. In order to allow this focus on public health, a drug checking service uses the results of the analysis to contextualize the risks faced by the service user, including discussing interactions between substances that have been detected and explaining any quantitative results. The service must involve an exchange of information between the service user and the drug checking service, to obtain information which is specific to that service user, and this information must be used to tailor the advice given, embedded within a harm reduction consultation of some sort.
- Have an explicit aim of reducing harm
- Collect and analyse samples directly from the public
- Return the analysis results to the service user directly
- Involve an exchange of information between the service user and the drug checking service
- Give information about risk to the service user directly, tailored to the specific analysis result and the information received from the service user
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