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‘Lots of MDMA that’s not MDMA’: Early results from Australia’s first drug testing clinic

Contains first month results from CanTEST, Australia’s first fixed-site drug testing clinic.
A six-month pilot program launched in Canberra in July aims to minimize drug-related harm. During this period, people can bring small amounts of drugs and be tested without fear of being arrested. And early results show that the illegal drugs people are buying may not always be what they seem.

Clinic manager Stephanie Stevens said. feed Of the 56 drug samples tested in the first month, 18 were discarded because they found something they didn’t want to take.

“Rather than MDMA, it was often another drug like methamphetamine (ice) or cut with other fillers like cornflour, sugar, salt, caffeine,” she said. . feed.
“Caffeine may sound safe, but when it comes to dosage, we’ve found that mixing it with other substances increases the risk of overdose.

“Some people thought it was a depressant turned out to be a stimulant, and taking the substance can be a very distressing experience for people.”

The results were also published by the Australian National University, which collects data from the program.

Of the five cocaine samples tested in the first month, only three contained cocaine. None of them had a purity level above 27%.
There were 19 MDMA samples tested and only 13 contained MDMA. Among those 13, the purity ranged from 23 to 73%.
There were six heroin samples tested. All contained heroin and ranged in purity from 31% to 63%.
The clinic also tested four samples believed to be methamphetamine, also known as ice. Drugs he found in three samples, the fourth contained no methamphetamine, only sugar.
“Some people are really disappointed and shocked that they spent hundreds of dollars on what they thought was MDMA and got fillers,” Stevens said. feed.
“Other people are quite shaken by the risks they may have been exposed to.

“Others have been able to confirm that their medication is what they thought it was and I really appreciate having that knowledge.

How do drug tests work?

The free and confidential service was set up by the ACT Government and is operated by Pill Testing Australia, the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimization and Advocacy and Directions Health Services, a drug and alcohol support service.

Clients are asked to leave their mobile phones in lockers while attending to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of everyone in the clinic. Substances to bring when people bring drugs and their intention to use the substance.

FTIR tester

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) instrument used in clinics to identify drugs in samples

A small sample of the drug is then chemically analyzed to identify the main active ingredient.

People have the option of doing a second, longer test that can identify the purity of other compounds and substances.
It takes 5-20 minutes to get results. Once the results are in, you will be offered a counseling session with an alcohol and drug counselor.

The clinic also offers testing for fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, as well as sexual and mental health consultations.

Will I be arrested for carrying drugs?

No. The clinic he co-founded with the ACT Police.
Bronwyn Henry, CEO of Directions Health Services said: feed ACT Police are aware that this is an initiative to minimize harm.
“We are also telling people to only bring small amounts of medication to be tested, no more than 1 tablet or 1 gram of powder.

“Our location is inside a clinic, and there are other medical services here, so people can come here for a variety of reasons.”

How is this different from pill testing at festivals?

Associate Professor David Caldicott is the Clinical Leader for Pill Testing Australia. Pill Testing Australia is an independent organization that provides research and infrastructure for pill testing at festivals.
Dr. Caldicott participated in Australia’s only other pill test trial at the 2018 and 2019 Groovin The Moo music festival at the ACT.
He said feed Having drug testing services in fixed locations improves access to services because there is no financial barrier to having to purchase tickets that cost hundreds of dollars to access pill testing services.

“Festivals can also deploy much more sensitive equipment, as you can imagine needing very robust tools to survive in a festival environment,” he said.

“We are also informing people who inject drugs. They are a very important group of people and there are some very important potential contaminants looking for fentanyl in the heroin market. ”
Dr Caldicott said another aim of the trial was to learn more about the Australian pharmaceutical market and potentially identify batches of defective substances in circulation.
“It’s hard to extrapolate directly from overseas experience, but we’ve seen some consistency in the pharmaceutical market in the Netherlands, where this kind of service has been around for 20 years,” he said. .
“Dealers are aware of the fact that the people offering the product have mechanisms to identify what is in that product.

“While we are seeing changes in the market as a result, they are certainly not becoming more dangerous. As a result, there are probably less dangerous products on the market.”

How does drug consumption in Australia compare to other parts of the world?

ACT is the only place in Australia to conduct a pill test.

Between 2016 and 2019, there were 11 drug-related deaths in Victoria and New South Wales.
In Victoria, five young people ingested what was believed to be MDMA and magic mushrooms, but turned out to be a cocktail of the synthetic psychoactive substances 25C-NBOMe and 4-fluoroamphetamine.
In New South Wales, a mass of six deaths occurred at a music festival where everyone was consuming MDMA.
Both clusters resulted in inquests in both states recommending fixed-site drug testing clinics, among other harm-minimizing strategies.

Since the coroner’s recommendation, there have been calls for the NSW government to allow pill testing to take place, but there has been resistance.

Feed has asked New South Wales Police Minister Paul Toole why there is no pill testing in place in the state.
“Pill testing sends the wrong message to people about taking illegal drugs. We don’t want to create a false belief that there is no such thing as a safe way to take these drugs,” he said. said. feed.
“Sadly, too many families suffer the consequences of what people think exists.”
Dr. Caldicott said feed Nothing about what they do with CanTEST says drug use is safe.
“First, tell them that the only way to be safe as far as drug consumption is concerned is to not take drugs.

“My hope is that young people will take our advice very well, and what they will do in the festival world when they get their hands on a product that we say is dangerous. It’s about changing behavior like you did.”

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/article/a-lot-of-mdma-that-wasnt-mdma-the-early-results-from-australias-first-drug-testing-clinic/i9egqbcg0 ‘Lots of MDMA that’s not MDMA’: Early results from Australia’s first drug testing clinic

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