Saturday 27 May 2017

New 'SafeSesh' kits allow college students test quality of recreational drugs

Credit: Safe Sesh
Credit: Safe Sesh

Hayley Halpin

A new project called SafeSesh has been launched to provide university students with safe drug testing kits.

DCU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) have launched a new SeshSafe project which provides students with drug testing kits and information on drug safety.

Credit: Safe Sesh
Credit: Safe Sesh

Launched earlier this year, the drug testing kits have proved popular among recreational and non-recreational drug users.

SSDP are an international grassroots network that was founded in Washington DC, in 1998. Today, the network is made up of 27 individual chapters of the organisation in universities all over the world.

SeshSafe is the brainchild of DCU student and chairperson of the university’s SSDP group, Eleanor Hulm.

Following the death of three people in Cork and Dublin last year as a result of drug use at parties, Hulm took the initiative to provide a safe drug testing kit to students in Universities across Ireland.

Credit: Safe Sesh
Credit: Safe Sesh

“These people died as a result of taking drugs that were sold to them and they didn’t know the quantity, the purity or what was in what they were taking. They didn’t know that when certain drugs are combined that it is extremely deadly and the risk of death is very high,” Hulm said.

“I was very angry because nothing was actually done about this from a higher level. There was nothing from the Government, there was nothing from colleges. Everyone knew about it but there was no proactive response to the situation,” she said.

Funded solely by donations, DCU SSDP held a bake sale to raise money to purchase drug testing kits from the internet. From there, Hulm set up a “SafeSesh” Facebook page and began to advertise the kits to students.

Read more: Nightclubs could soon provide free drug testing so users can check 'purity' of substances

“It exploded, people are so into it. Recreational drug users want to know how to minimize risks as much as possible and non-recreational drug users want to know what they can do to keep their friends safe,” she said.

A large US organisation, DanceSafe, discovered the “SafeSesh” campaign and have since made DCU SSDP Europe’s first DanceSafe chapter.

They have provided the group with harm reduction material and is set to provide the committee with thorough harm reduction training.

The 4th Annual National Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference was held by DCU on March 11.

“At our SSDP Ireland Conference yesterday, I met Guy Jones, who set up Reagent Tests UK. He was totally into SeshSafe and gave me some new harm reduction material too.

“I will be working more closely alongside them in the foreseeable future. I've been posting kits around Ireland too,” Hulm said.

Hulm hopes to make the drug testing kits a more permanent feature within Irish universities.

“The reality is that drug use can never be one hundred percent safe but its risks can be reduced massively so it's time we accept that people use drugs and to evolve to a new approach of saving party people,” Hulm said.

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