Development of drug checking in Slovenia after B.A.O.N.P.S. project

Thursday, 6 September 2018

SIMONA ŠABIC – ASSOCIATION DROGART

Development of drug checking service in Slovenia is importantly connected with new project “Development and upgrade of integrated service for testing illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances in different local environments”, which started in the beginning of October 2017. In the project Association DrogArt is partnered with National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food (NLZOH). The project is financed by European structural and investment funds, the operation was prepared by Slovenian Ministry of Health and it provides funds for developing and performing drug checking until 31. 10. 2022.

An important step was made by signing a mutual agreement between Ministry of Health, Police, NLZOH, Association DrogArt, National Institute of Public Health (NIPH). With the agreement, signatories obliged to cooperate with each other and exchange information regarding drug checking service, which is performed as a part of Slovenian Early Warning System. Protocol, which defines collection, transport and analysis of the psychoactive substances, is also part of the agreement. Preparation and signature of the agreement was result of previous cooperation, communication and development of the relationship and trust with important stake-holders, which was done also in the time of B.A.O.N.P.S. project.

In the beginning of this year laboratory got a new employee for performing analysis, both in the stationary laboratory and also on-site, who started to perform analysis of psychoactive substances in the lab in February 2018. This year we already managed to shorten the waiting time for the results, which is now mostly one week (in some rare cases it can take up to two weeks). And from July also qualitative results are available. In the laboratory GC-MS, LC-MS and HPLC/QTOF/MS are used for the analysis. For now, on-site drug checking in the nightlife venues is not performed, but it is planned in the project and should start by the end of this year. Analysis will be performed by HPLC-DAD. We plan to perform it mostly in the regions, where stationary drug checking facility is not available and on parties, where we estimate to reach users who for different reasons don’t use stationary drug checking facilities in their local environments. We also plan to collect samples in the mobile unit during the day outreach work in the towns outside Ljubljana.

We observe that the upgrade of the service is already resulting in increase of collected samples. This year 129 samples were already collected in DrogArt info point until the end of July (compared to 99 in the same period of time last year). Beside DrogArt info point in Ljubljana, people can bring samples also in DrogArt info point in Maribor and Koper. Samples can be brought also to six another harm reduction programs to be analyzed in the NLZOH. Association DrogArt is responsible for coordination of the transport and communication between info points and the laboratory.

Beside establishing the on-site service and broadening the outreach of the service, we plan in the future also to evaluate the drug checking service to see what are the effects of the service on the service users’ behavior and to research the full potential the service has as a part of holistic and integrated approaches on the field of drug use and addiction.