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Home > Drug use, harm-reduction practices and attitudes toward the utilisation of drug safety testing services in an Irish cohort of festival-goers.

Ivers, Jo-Hanna and Killeen, Nicki and Keenan, Eamon (2021) Drug use, harm-reduction practices and attitudes toward the utilisation of drug safety testing services in an Irish cohort of festival-goers. Irish Journal of Medical Science, Early online, .

External website: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11845-0...

BACKGROUND: Festival drug-related deaths are a growing public health concern.

AIM: To examine drug use and related harm-reduction practices and attitudes towards utilisation of drug safety testing services.

METHODS: Data collection took place over the 2019 festival season (June-October). The questionnaire was self-reported. Data was gathered via the online survey, which was promoted through online and social media platforms and outlets. Social media communication methods were used to reach the targeted population more effectively.

RESULTS: A total of 1193 Irish festival attendees over the age of 18 completed an anonymous online survey. Alcohol, MDMA powder/crystals, ecstasy pills and cocaine were the highest reported drugs used by Irish festival attendees. The vast majority of participants reported polysubstance use (86.8%/n = 1036). Forty percent of participants (39.98%/n = 477) reported having had sex following the use of a drug at a festival; of these, 66% (n = 316) said that the sex was unprotected. Most participants (84.0%/n = 1003) engaged in some form of harm reduction when taking drugs at festivals. Overwhelmingly, participants reported a willingness to engage with drug-checking services. The vast majority (96.3%; n = 1149) and would use drug checking services more than three-quarters (75.1%/n = 897) reported that they would use an 'amnesty bin' for drugs if it were part of an alert system to notify if dangerous drugs are in circulation. A chi-square test of Independence was conducted to examine whether age and utilisation of drug safety testing service a festival were independent. Moreover, when all cases are taken together, the difference between testing modalities (onsite, offsite and amnesty bin) shows a significant difference p < 001 between those who would use onsite and offsite drug testing facilities.

CONCLUSION: The evidence from this survey indicates that those young people who use drugs at festivals would be prepared to utilise drug checking services and amnesty bins should help inform the public health response to this important area.


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