BY: JESSICA BEUKER
University students in the UK are being given drug-testing kits, which allow users to test the drugs they are taking, and whether or not they are laced with dangerous additives.
The Test Your Drugs, Not Yourself initiative comes from Newcastle University’s branch of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The testing kits work using chemical reactions; different substances will turn different colours for easy identification.
The kits cost around $5.60 each, but that’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the consequences of unknowingly consuming lethal substances.
“People are always going to use drugs and we just want to make it safer.”
SSDP Newcastle (Photo: SSDP)
According to the Daily Mail, the university dropped its zero tolerance stance in favour of making drugs safer to those who continue to consume them, regardless of legality. “We are not promoting drug use. It’s trying to avoid the harm of people that are going to use them,” Holly Mae Robinson, president of SSDP Newcastle, told the Daily Mail. “People are always going to use drugs and we just want to make it safer.”
In the past few years a disturbing trend has emerged across Canada, where drug users are unknowingly ingesting the potent prescription drug, fentanyl. Fentanyl has been found in heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and other pills.
In Alberta, fentanyl was linked to over 200 fatal overdoses in 2015 – and in most cases users don’t even realize they are taking it.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
According to The Globe and Mail, numbers from the British Columbia Coroners Service have shown that fentanyl is being detected in a growing percentage of drug-related deaths every year. In 2012 it was detected in less than five per cent of drug overdose deaths, but by 2015 that number rose to 35 per cent. In Alberta, fentanyl was linked to over 200 fatal overdoses in 2015 – and in most cases users don’t even realize they are taking it.
“Our approach to drug policy is that the safest way to take drugs is not to take them at all,” said Luke Allison, the student union’s welfare and equality officer. “But students still do and I think if you don’t acknowledge that students take drugs or that anyone in society takes drugs, then you’re ignoring them and if you’re ignoring them their problem is going to continue. But if you’re acknowledging that students will still take drugs, then we need to try to promote other ways to reduce harm to those people.”