People who use ecstasy/MDMA and/or other illegal stimulants seek out objective information about substance contents despite the lack permanent government-sanctioned drug checking services, says a new report.
Researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, interviewed nearly 800 young people in Australia who regularly use ecstasy and other illegal stimulants and found more than one-third (36 per cent) reported testing their drugs, predominantly via colorimetric reagent kits.
Lead researcher, Dr Amy Peacock said, “These findings reinforce the willingness of people who use MDMA/ecstasy and/or other illegal stimulants to receive objective information about substance contents.”
The report, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, says that of those who had tested in the last year, 86 per cent had used a colorimetric reagent kit last time.
“Colorimetric reagent kits or immunoassay test strips, are inexpensive, easy to use and yield quick results of whether a particular drug is detected, said Dr Peacock.
“However, this type of testing is a suboptimal technology. Accuracy may be impacted by whether the test is performed correctly, and the capacity for subjective interpretation of results. Also, colorimetric reagent test kits do not necessarily provide accurate information on the purity or dose of the substance being tested, nor identify potential adulterants.”
The report found that the majority (84 per cent) tested a substance they had been sold and/or given as MDMA, and of these, 87 per cent detected MDMA.
“Existing use of colorimetric reagent kits is important to consider in the context of the current debate around implementing government-sanctioned drug checking services in Australia,” said Dr Peacock.
“People are already engaging in drug checking practices but using suboptimal technologies and in the absence of tailored specialist advice and education. This is a missed opportunity to reduce drug-related harm by offering services that give more comprehensive and reliable information about substance contents, and which put people in contact with health professionals if they need advice and support.”
Read the full report here.
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The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Drug and Alcohol Program.
For free and confidential drug and alcohol support in Australia, contact the National Alcohol & Other Drug Hotline (1800 250 015).