It’s been making headlines over the last 12 months but what exactly is pill testing, and could it potentially save young lives?
What Experts Say
Young people will always take risks, some greater than others but rebellion can be part of growing up and becoming an adult. Taking illicit drugs is obviously illegal but could offering drug checking at festivals help save young people from overdosing? NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is firmly opposed to pill testing, claiming it gives people the green light to take illegal substances. Whereas doctors and emergency service workers who see the damage being done at festivals and parties, think otherwise. Some believe that the attitudes of older generations is standing in the way of the government moving forward with with pill testing, the old adage of “just don’t take them” is seemingly no longer relevant. Last year at Groovin’ the Moo where there was a pill testing tent set up, individuals were given armbands to show they had utilised the service and none of the people treated by paramedics that day were wearing armbands.
One Church on Sydney’s Central Coast made it clear where they stand on the issue.
- A 2010 survey found more than 11% of 20- to 29-year-olds and 7% of 18- to 19-year-old had taken the drug in the previous 12 months
- Since September 2018, five young people have died from overdoses at music festivals in NSW alone
- 10 countries in the European Union, including Spain have been offering drug checking at music festivals for decades
So, What Is Pill Testing?
Far from being a green light for people to take drugs, pill testing could actually be a deterrent. Basically, the person would enter the designated tent, told that there is no safe level of drug taking and the testing process is explained. A test sample is taken (and destroyed in the process) and then tested to see if the drug is what the individual expected it to be. Different colours indicate the different outcomes, white would be that it is the drug they expected, yellow means it’s not the drug the person thought it was and red which would indicate it contains harmful materials and there is an increased chance of overdose or death. The person would then be told the results and counselled by a doctor about the potential outcomes and are shown where they can dispose of the drugs if they want.
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