Pioneering drug-checking service divides opinion

Roz Gittins, director of pharmacy at Addaction, with the team from the University of Hertfordshire.

Roz Gittins, director of pharmacy at Addaction, with the team from the University of Hertfordshire. - Credit: Archant

Readers have had their say on a pioneering new drug-checking service which is being trialled in Weston.

The Home Office has granted Addaction the first UK licence for the ground-breaking service which will enables to find out what it is in the substances they have been taking.

During the pilot, people will be able to visit Addaction to have a sample of the substance tested.

Addaction staff will give people advice on how to reduce any health risks associated with the substance and talk to them about the support available to help them make changes to their lives.

Addaction’s director of pharmacy, Roz Gittins, said: “This is about saving lives.

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“We know people take drugs. We don’t have to condone it but nor should we judge people or bury our heads in the sand.

“It’s our job to do whatever we can to help people make informed choices about the risks they’re taking.”

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The anonymous service is open to anyone over 18, at Addaction, in the Boulevard, on March 15, from 11am-7pm.

Many people took to social media to share their views.

Mark Difford said: “It’s great to see a rational, grown up attitude towards drugs at last.

“We are never going to stop people taking drugs, the least we can do is make sure they are safe.

“We only need to look at prohibition in the United States to see what destruction, death and violence is caused by sending drugs underground and into the hands of criminals.”

Amanda McLaurin added: “The war on drugs never worked, people will do what they please and at least they can do this in a safe manner.

“Drug testing has been in practice for years in the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Belgium, and Portugal.

“It’s about harm reduction, simple.”

Alasdair Crook commented: “We already have a drugs checking service – it is called the police.

“The problem is with this non-judgmental rubbish.

“People who choose to take drugs have got to face up to the effects and consequences of their action.

“This makes it sound like they are condoning illegal drugs use.”

Chris Tovey said: “It beggars belief, what happens when the drug used causes the death of the drug user. Who is responsible?”

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