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November 10, 2017

DRUG CHECKING FOR HARM REDUCTION: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has published a paper titled "Drug checking as a harm reduction tool for recreational drug users: Opportunities and challenges".  The paper provides an overview of the history of drug checking (sometimes known as "pill testing") and describes the variety of programs that are currently in operation in Europe.  The article describes the type of testing equipment that is available at each site, and provides a simple overview of the accuracy of each type of test employed. The article covers some of the common criticisms of drug checking programs, as well as the proposed benefits, and provides references for various research studies that have considered these factors.

Go to "Drug checking as a harm reduction tool for recreational drug users: Opportunities and challenges".

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October 13, 2017

THE ECSTASY AND RELATED DRUGS REPORTING SYSTEM 2017 KEY FINDINGS

The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) is an annual study that monitors trends in price, purity and availability of a range substances and attempts to identify trends and changes in the drug market. The EDRS involves interviews with regular drug users, as well as interviews with key informants from the sector. There is a Queensland component, which is one of the few studies that provides insight in local drug trends. The 2017 EDRS key findings included a significant decline in use of 'any' methamphetamine, with a particularly significant decrease in the use of crystal methamphetamine. Ecstasy use remained stable and the ecstasy market continued to diversify in 2017.  Pills were the most common form of MDMA used, however there were significant increases in the use of MDMA crystal, capsules and powder.  Another interesting trend was an increase in the use of magic mushrooms, LSD, ketamine and DMT, although the frequency of use was low.


Go to the 2017 Ecstasy and Related Drugs Preliminary findings

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August 31, 2017

HARM REDUCTION VIDEOS FROM VICE MEDIA: SAFE SESH

Vice Media have developed a series of harm reduction videos, including substances such as MDMA, cocaine., cannabis, nitrous oxide and more.  The videos use a scientist from The Loop, a drug testing service from the UK, to answer some key questions that users often have, with practical suggestions to reduce the harms. Obviously, the only way to reduce all of the harms is to not use. However for those who do use, there are some strategies that can be implemented to reduce the harms. Some of the tips in the videos include: not to use MDMA more than once every three months, to reduce the risks of developing tolerance and increasing some of the potential cognitive effects of MDMA.

Go to Vice Media's "Safe Sesh" videos.

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August 11, 2017

WHY ARE ECSTASY-RELATED DEATHS RISING IN THE UK?

The AOD policy website Volteface has published an article titled "Fired up: Why are Ecstasy related deaths increasing in the UK?".  The article provides evidence that in 2015, there were 72 ecstasy (MDMA) related deaths in the UK, the second highest number of deaths on record.  The article attempts to compare rates of ecstasy use with the numbers of deaths in order to show the degree of risk associated with ecstasy use.  The authors found the mortality rate of ecstasy-related deaths to be one death per 6968 last-year users (approximately one death per 10 000 users).  This is broadly equivalent to the risk posed by motor sports, water sports, mountain hiking, being a road user, giving birth, liposuction, taking anti-depressants or being in police custody.

Go to "Fired up: Why are Ecstasy related deaths increasing in the UK?"

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August 11, 2017

OVERVIEW OF FORENSIC TESTING DEVICES FOR HARM REDUCTION POINT-OF-CARE

An article has been published in the "Harm Reduction Journal" titled "An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services".  The article describes the range of devices that are able to determine the contents of substances, and considers their potential utility in harm reduction point-of-care services including drug checking services. Technology in this area evolves rapidly and this article considers issues such as the amount of training required to use a particular device, the accuracy and portability.

Go to "An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services."

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May 19, 2017

DRUG FACTS VIDEOS

The Drug Policy Alliance has produced a series of four short videos about MDMA, Methamphetamine, Heroin and Cocaine which aim to present straightforward, factual information. Each video is only two minutes long and covers the history of each of these drugs, how they work, the major health risks of each substance and practice harm reduction advice.

Read more and watch the videos here.

 

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March 10, 2017

ADF DRUG FACTS

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly known as the Australian Drug Foundation) have re-launched their Drug Facts website.  The site contains information on a broad range of drugs, in an accessible format suitable for any worker.  Each fact sheet contains information on the specific substance including how the substance is used, an overview of the effects and harms, and information on rates of use in the population.

Go to the ADF Drug Facts website

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October 28, 2016

ECSTASY AND RELATED DRUGS REPORTING SYSTEM 2016 KEY FINDINGS

The EDRS (Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System) is an annual study that monitors trends in price, purity and availability of a range substances and attempts to identify trends and changes in the drug market.  The EDRS involves interviews with regular drug users, as well as interviews with key informants from the sector.  There is a Queensland component, which is one of the few studies that provides insight in local drug trends.  The 2016 EDRS Key findings included an increase in the use of MDMA crystal or powder, which a majority of users reported as being "high" purity.  Powdered methamphetamine remained the most commonly used form of the drug, with 25% of respondents reporting recent use, followed by 19% reporting recent use of crystal methamphetamine.  A number of other substances are used by this cohort, including 15% reporting recent use of DMT, 13% reporting recent use of a 2C-type substance such as 2CB, and 6% reporting the use of DXM.

Go to "Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System 2016 Key Findings"

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May 6, 2016

RECENT CHANGES IN EUROPE'S MDMA / ECSTASY MARKET

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have published a report titled "Recent Changes in Europe's Ecstasy / MDMA Market".  The report describes recent trends in MDMA manufacture, which have seen global purity increase. Evidence from the Netherlands indicates that a large proportion of Ecstasy tablets being tested at drug checking services contain very high doses of MDMA.  There is also evidence from the United Kingdom of increasing availability of high purity crystal MDMA.  These changes in the European Ecstasy market will impact on Australia, as much of the world's MDMA is produced in Europe.  Given the regular fluctuations in Ecstasy purity, there are increased risks of overdose and other adverse health outcomes.

Go to "Recent changes in Europe's MDMA / Ecstasy Market"

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February 19, 2016

4 CORNERS: DYING TO DANCE

ABC's 4 Corners recently screened an episode focused specifically on the use of drugs like Ecstasy (MDMA).  The episode followed groups of young people as they scored and used MDMA at music festivals and parties, exploring the risks associated with these drugs, and the potential for harm reduction initiatives such as drug checking services.  This episode of 4 Corners is timely, with 7 deaths occurring over the past year of young people attending music festivals.

Watch "Dying to Dance"

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