Does Legal Drug Testing Reduce Harm?

Australia introduced its first free drug test clinic to analyse drug contents. So what have we learnt from the trial so far?

Whether it’s a steroid home test or pill testing at festivals, drug testing has been a controversial issue in in Australia. As a nation we tend to take America’s lead on drug policy; the result is that there’s been no way to legally test the contents of pills or the purity of drugs like cocaine – until now.

CanTEST Program Launches In ACT

In July 2022, the ACT government and the Australian National University (ANU) opened a pilot program called CanTEST, which is running for 6 months.

CanTEST is a free, fixed-site pill and drug testing clinic in Canberra, for the purpose of minimising drug-related harm. So far the program has shown that people will discard drugs that contained unexpected or dangerous substances.

Not only are people able to test the identity and potency of a drug, contaminants that make up >5% of the sample can also be identified.

Pilot Program Delivering Impressive Results

CanTEST recently discovered a new recreational drug that has not been seen in Australia before. It was sold as Ketamine, and although had a similar chemical structure, was reported to have different effects by the person who brought it into the service. Of the 150 samples submitted in the first 2 months of the clinic, 34 were thrown away once the owner knew the contents of the sample.

PEDTest spoke to the staff at the CanTEST clinic and can confirm that they have the capability to test any illegal substance; including steroid pills, oils, liquids and raws. If the analysis equipment they have on site doesn’t give a satisfactory result (liquids can be harder to analyse) the sample will be taken to another lab for further analysis. Even Somatropin (HGH) can be tested.

In addition to analysis, they also have a health nurse on site who can check infections, blood pressure, and give a lesson on correct injection methods. There is also a needle exchange in the same building.

Details of the location, opening times, and FAQs can be found here.

The New Zealand pill testing program

In 2021, New Zealand became the first country to permanently legalise drug checking such as pill testing at festivals. The pilot of the program showed that 68% of participants changed their behaviours and 87% said they better understood the harms of drug use as a result of using the service. Pill testing services such as KnowYourStuffNZ use the same analytical equipment as CanTEST, along with colourmetric testing kits for some substances.

One of the most common complaints against drug checking and analysis services is that it will benefit dealers. How? By letting them see the strength and contents of the drugs they are selling. Our viewpoint is that this is potentially a GOOD THING. If dealers can see that their product is contaminated or overdosed and therefore change it – thus preventing an overdose to the end user – then that contributes to the harm-reduction goal.

Drug & Steroid Test Kits Reduce Harm

The CanTEST clinic is a first in Australia and is a massive step in the right direction. In our experience steroid users tend to overestimate the quality of underground products and put too much trust in dealers to supply legitimate and correctly dosed products. Programs like this in every state and territory would make a significant difference to the harm caused by the use of illegal substances in Australia.

Although drug or steroid test kits will never be as accurate as lab analysis, they are an important and cost-effective option for screening and monitoring quality changes in substances. PEDTest Australia sells kits for steroids, CDB/THC, LSD, GHB, Fentanyl and narcotics. Contact us if you have any questions and follow us on Instragr