Opinion: Free drug testing — Fueling the fire or decreasing the damage?

by Emily Crowley

Irish nightclubs may soon be providing drug testing kits. Image credit: nypost.com

“I’m sorry, coffee is out of the question. When I moved to California, I promised my mother that I wouldn’t start doing drugs,” Sheldon said, as he backed away from Penny and the coffee pot in her hands.

A lot of us would be familiar with this famous scene from ‘The Big Bang Theory’, but what we don’t recognise is that a lot of people around you are familiar with this social situation in clubs and pubs here in Ireland – but with more serious substances than caffeine.

It was announced recently that Irish nightclubs may be providing free drug testing, which could change the way we view drug usage for the best.

The aim of this new scheme is to check the purity of drugs, especially MDMA and cocaine, which may contain fatal ingredients.

It will not be a means of investigating and catching the criminals that import, manufacture or sell these drugs, as the service is anonymous.

The testing facilities have been in consideration following two separate drug-related deaths on the Irish party-scene, in the past year and a half.

What is most important for people to understand is that these drug screening tests aren’t a means of the government to say “Ah yeah, that pill won’t kill you, use away”, but rather a means of reducing potential fatalities, and possibly saving lives.

We have lost the battle of trying to scare young people away from drugs, as far as I can see it.

It’s easy to be pressured into taking drugs on nights out nowadays, and it’s easy to experiment just to quench the thirst to know what that feeling of euphoria is like, but it’s also easy to say no to drugs.

For those that don’t say no, there might still be that fear that what they’re feeding their bodies could be detrimental. Will one have an allergic reaction to an ingredient? Could it affect one’s already weakened liver? Might it damage one’s motor neurons permanently?

No one can tell, which is why these drug testing facilities are being introduced.

We need not to see another story in the news like that of the house party in Cork City, whereby six young people were hospitalized, including eighteen year-old Alex Ryan, who died after ingesting ‘N-Bomb’.

The Cork incident came just a year after the death of Ana Hick, another individual who’s death could have possibly been avoided had these tests been in place in the nightclub that night.

Many cities in Britain, such as Preston, and across Europe in places such as Vienna, have been successfully using models similar the one set to be put in place for Irish nightclub scene.

So what are we waiting for?

It may not be putting people behind bars, but at least it will be keeping people out of hospital beds.

Emily Crowley