On site testing, also known as Harm Reduction, allows people to get their illegal drugs tested to find out exactly what the substance contains and how strong it is.
Companies such as The Loop, which is a none profit Community Interest Company, provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services at nightclubs, festivals and other leisure events.
Drug testing is an essential facility for saving lives and ensuring that people stay out of harms way.
The stigma around drug use blinds people to the fact that fatalities could and should be avoided at all costs. Despite festivals and nightclubs holding a no-tolerance policy against illegal substances, people need to acknowledge that drugs will continue to find their way in.
Drug related deaths in the UK are currently at record levels. Nightclubs all over the country continue to close as a consequence of this and each year music festivals see a number of fatalities.
The Loop stated on their website that ‘Ecstasy-related deaths have increased by a factor of 8 since 2010; cocaine-related deaths have tripled since 2011. Yet each new generation of young people start to experiment with drugs with limited knowledge of what they are taking or what they can do to reduce the risks of their drug use.’
Certain countries allow people to get their drugs tested, for example in Amsterdam people can send their drugs off to labs to test whether they’re safe to consume.
Harm reduction is a central feature in the Dutch drug policy and is aimed at reducing drug-induced deaths and drug-related infectious diseases, as well as at preventing drug-related emergencies.
According to figures published by the Office for national Statistics in August 2017, Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales 2016 registrations, there were 3,744 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal drugs in England and Wales registered in 2016; this is 70 higher than 2015 and the highest number since comparable statistics began in 1993. Of these 3,744 deaths, 2,593 were drug misuse deaths.
However, in 2016, the Netherlands saw 235 people die from drug use.
The issue within the UK is only getting worse and it’s a problem that could easily be avoided if Harm Reduction became a part of our society. Although some people worry that these facilities would only promote the idea of drug use, the UK needs to make a change and realise that the system is failing.
In a Harm Reduction video released by Boomtown Fair, Communication Manager, Anna Wade, stated that ‘The current approach to drugs doesn’t seem very effective at all, it’s pushed people into the underground where they don’t have any access to any information on actually what they’re taking and putting into their bodies.’
The law on drug use is not working and that has become widely accepted and ultimately we need to take a different approach. Harm Reduction services can only be a step in the right direction in terms of both ensuring that people don’t lose their lives and reducing drug use.