Should the UK like other countries around the world adopt drug testing facilities in night clubs?
I’ve just been at the 10th Club Health Conference in Dublin (www.theclubhealthconference.com) which was brilliant and one of the core themes of the conference was drugs. According to the Global Drug Survey 2017 (www.globaldrugsurvey.com) the potency of drugs is increasing and now 1 in 20 of those aged 16 to 24 year have taken ecstasy in the last year with the average user taking it 11 times in a year. It appears that drug taking in this generation of party goers is becoming normalised with nearly 60% of people admitting to trying drugs and seems as if it is considered a right of passage particularly in night clubs and festivals.
At the Club Health Conference I heard of great projects in Holland and Switzerland of Drugs testing in night clubs. It seems that countries around the world routinely offer drug testing in night clubs, or before people go to night clubs, not to encourage or condone drug testing or to act as a quality control service for dealers but to protect young people from taking dodgy drugs.
Over the last few years in the UK we have taken massive steps forward with great Charities such as The Loop (www.wearetheloop.co.uk) working with the Police and Festival organisers to offer drug testing at major festivals, however there is still so much more that we can do to offer good harm reduction. Over the weekend the press announced that there had been another very sad death in a UK night club of a young person, who took what they thought was MDMA. According to the Global Drug Survey 2017 Ecstasy deaths in the UK have risen from 10 people in 2010 to 57 people in 2015.
One death is too many but how do we best care for young people in the night time economy who it seems will almost inevitably end up trying drugs at some point?
I think that it is time for drugs policy reform. Drug testing in night clubs is one area I would love to see reformed. Testing drugs before young people take them, and centrally collecting that data, would help us build a knowledge bank that we currently don’t have. We would know what was being taken and could offer clear, knowledge based warnings to protect young people if we found a substance that could cause harm. Similar testing in Holland has reduced ecstasy deaths. Testing of drugs also encourages more responsible, planned use of drugs by young people. It would also enable harm reduction health interventions from professionals at the point of testing. It would enable us to build trusted relationships with those who are taking recreational drugs so that we could protect them during the time that they had taken the drug. Finally if something did go wrong medical professionals would have easy access to whatever the young person had taken so that they could offer the best possible care.
What do you think, should drug testing be offered in UK night clubs to protect young people from harm?
If you would like help in designing a drugs policy for your venue or festival then the team www.nighttimeeconomy can help you.