In response to figures showing a rise in drug-related deaths in England and Wales, pill testing trials were carried out at two UK festivals last year. To little surprise, it was deemed effective, with about one-fifth of festivalgoers disposing of their drugs once the contents were revealed. An overwhelming majority of those frequenting festivals and nightclubs in the UK support the establishment of pill testing, and said they would use them, if available.
Now the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has also come out in support of pill testing services, declaring they should be standardised across all UK festivals, nightlife venues and drug treatment services.
The RSPH supports pill testing on a number of grounds: the annual number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales has doubled in the past 20 years, including deaths from stimulant drugs used recreationally in clubs or festivals. This increase is thought to be partly related to an increase in strength of substances such as MDMA on the European market. The additional threat of highly toxic substances such as PMMA found in adulterated ecstasy pills is another cause for concern. Considering a significant number of people regularly use ecstasy in clubs and at festivals, the risk of harm is elevated.
We know that pill testing provides a way for drug users to be better informed about what they’re consuming, and make resulting decisions about their drug use. We know that a properly funded pill testing service would use sophisticated laboratory-grade equipment to give accurate readings. We know that in other countries where pill testing services operate, a significant amount of users discard their drugs and leave with a greater understanding of how to reduce the risk of serious harm to themselves and their peers.
We welcome the decision of the RSPH and commend them for taking a progressive, pragmatic policy stance with this endorsement. We acknowledge the significance of RSPH’s position given they are an extremely reputable medical body with many years’ knowledge and experience. We hope their public stance will further pave the way for the legitimation of pill testing worldwide, including here in Australia.
Find RSPH’s full statement here: https://www.rsph.org.uk/asset/1E18B0A5-37CD-4F05-A89AF0AD694569EA.6D961466-6CED-4889-AD22D628DFAFC7BB/