Despite being almost unknown to institutions and professionals, a growing number of new synthetic drugs (from 41 in 2010 to 101 in 2014 and 66 in 2016 – EMCDDA) are produced for the illegal market and they are widely available. Most of these substances are used in clubs and parties; for some people, the use of NPS is a choice, but not for everyone: many users have unintentional uses of NPS since their drugs of choice are adulterated or totally substituted with NPS. The identification of new drugs and adulteration patterns is only possible when using screening instruments that can analyse the contents of a drug. In this context, drug checking services are crucial for harm reduction teams. Drug checking is an integrated service that lets drug users to have their synthetic drugs analysed and receive counselling (TEDI Project 2011); in nightlife contexts it has been shown to be useful at different levels: early detection of NPS, harm and risk reduction in drug users, knowledge improvement for service providers and policy makers (Hungerbuehler et al. 2011); however in most EU countries DC is not implemented. BAONPS project intended to evaluate and advocate for the relevance of drug checking services for harm reduction in party settings. Moreover, through EU funding it has been possible to implement an innovative drug checking service in Italy.
In parallel, the BAONPS project has funded a mixed-methods research, addressed to better understand the NPS phenomena by deepening consumption patterns and cross-cultural differences that may act as protective or as risk factors. The research design included a survey addressed to partygoers in three countries (Italy, Portugal, Slovenia), and a web-based qualitative comparative study.
This seminar disseminated the main results and outputs of the BAONPS project, namely research findings about NPS use in party settings and the content analysis of peer-led surface and dark-net forums. Innovations on drug checking had also been discussed since the project implemented a new tool for drug checking: the use of RAMAN spectroscopy to identify drugs on the field. Additionally, local experiences in drug checking implementation were shared to identify the main constraints to these services in Portugal, Italy and Slovenia.
The project resutls were discusses by:
Alex Bucheli, NEWNet, Safer Dance Swiss, Bar & Club Commission Zürich
Xoán Carbón, Energy Control-ABD
Joao Matias, EMCDDA
Tina Van Havere, University College of Ghent
Helena Valente, Porto University Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences / Kosmicare Association – Harm Reduction and Psychedelic Research.