Addaction is trialling the UK’s first licenced drug checking service in North Somerset.
People who are taking drugs can come into the service and have a sample checked. While there, Addaction staff will talk to them about the support available to make changes to their lives, and, once they know what’s in the substance, give targeted harm reduction advice.
Addaction’s Director of Pharmacy, Roz Gittins, who has lead the project, said: “This is about saving lives. We know people take drugs. We don’t have to condone it but nor should we judge people or bury our heads in the sand. It’s our job to do whatever we can to help people make informed choices about the risks they’re taking. Checking the content of drugs is a sensible and progressive way to do that. If people know what’s in something, they can be better informed about the potential harm of taking it.”
The Home Office granted Addaction the first UK licence for drug checking. The study is based on a harm reduction model that helps people make informed decisions.
The pilot will run in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, a renowned leader in psychoactive substance analysis and drug detection research since 2010, with support from The Loop, which has successfully delivered drug safety testing services since 2016.
Amira Guirguis, Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator for the project, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: “The drug checking service reflects our research vision on improving the identification of the actual content in drug samples, identifying potential sources of severe harm, gaining an understanding of novel trends and raising relevant alerts.”