Monday 26 September 2016

Kirsty Blake Knox: It may not discourage them, but at least people will know what they're taking

Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30

'Informing users is ultimately giving them more power and control over their decisions.'
'Informing users is ultimately giving them more power and control over their decisions.'

The sudden deaths of young people from a bad batch of pills has become a tragic, but perennial, news story.

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Year in, year out, we hear how innocuous-looking tabs are laced with rat poison, toilet cleaner, stain remover or plant food.

Given the number of tragically premature deaths, it may seem incomprehensible why anyone would be tempted to take something so toxic.

But when you're desperate to fit in - or just determined to have a good time - it's easy to ignore all the alarm bells and warning signs.

And, as was the case in Cork last week, users can sometimes consume a drug that was stronger and more lethal than they could ever have imagined.

This week, Leo Varadkar suggested DIY drug kits or drug testing rooms might be made available in pubs and clubs to educate and inform recreational, habitual or opportunistic drug users.

Users would be able to tell if the drugs they're taking are relatively pure, or if they are laced with substances you'd usually find at the back of your cleaning cabinet.

Some think it's a redundant suggestion; people take drugs to be reckless - taking a quality control test in the corner of a nightclub doesn't really seem to fit with the ethos of this culture.

On top of this the Canadian and Australian tests on which this system is based sound pretty cumbersome; mixing drugs with dyes and waiting for the results.

It certainly isn't the most subtle procedure and most people like a little discretion when they're taking illicit substances.

Despite that, I think anything which increases our understanding and knowledge of drugs is a positive.

Informing users is ultimately giving them more power and control over their decisions.

It may not discourage people from taking drugs but at least it gives them the chance to know exactly what they are ingesting.

While these tests are clearly still in their infancy, they might encourage individuals to view substance abuse in a realistic light.

And that can only be a good thing.

Irish Independent

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