"One of the consequences of drug prohibition is the lack of knowledge regarding the composition and purity of illicit substances (Miron, 2003; Taylor et al., 2016). This information gap poses significant risks to individuals who consume drugs, as they lack knowledge of the contents which can lead to physical harm (Darke & Farrell, 2014; Unick et al., 2014). In the context of harm reduction, drug checking has emerged as a strategy to address this issue. Drug checking programs aim to provide consumers with accurate and timely information about the content and potential harms associated with the substances they intend to consume (Maghsoudi et al., 2022). Drug checking was traditionally designed to provide harm reduction services and information about illicit substances in party scenes, however, the remit of drug checking has expanded significantly (see Barratt & Measham, 2022). Drug checking programs can be traced back to the late 1960s in the United States (Barratt et al., 2018). According to a recent systematic review, these programs have expanded globally and are now implemented in many countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, Australia, and Canada (Colledge-Frisby et al., 2023).
"Drug checking initiatives seek to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their drug use (Weicker et al., 2020). These programs typically involve analysing drug samples using various methods, such as spectrometry or reagent testing, to identify the presence of specific substances and potential adulterants as well as dosage or strength (Barratt & Measham, 2022). The provision of drug testing results to consumers provides some information about the potential risks associated with their drug use (Barratt & Measham, 2022), although it is important to note that these results may not encompass all possible risks due to limitations in testing methodologies and the multifaceted nature of drug-related harms (Masterton et al., 2022). Risks associated with drug use can be influenced by various factors, including the environment and co-substance consumption, which may significantly impact the overall risk profile beyond the specific drug content or purity (Masterton et al., 2022). However, the implementation of drug checking programs has shown positive outcomes and increased safety among drug consumers in jurisdictions where it has been applied (Bardwell & Kerr, 2018; Measham, 2019). Feasibility studies indicate acceptance and willingness among consumer populations to engage with these services (Kennedy et al., 2018; Krieger et al., 2018; Palamar et al., 2019; Sherman et al., 2019). The positive reception among consumer populations to engage with these services align with the call for widely accessible harm reduction measures."
Piatkowski T, Puljevic C, Francis C, Ferris J, Dunn M. "They sent it away for testing and it was all bunk": Exploring perspectives on drug checking among steroid consumers in Queensland, Australia. Int J Drug Policy. 2023 Jul 21;119:104139. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2023.104139. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37481876.