Home > Safer nightlife programme 2022: results from ‘back of house’ drug testing.

Killeen, Nicki ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6220-1586, McNamara, Sinéad ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6537-0721, Stokes, Siobhán ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2406-0879 and Keenan, Eamon ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3395-3831 (2022) Safer nightlife programme 2022: results from ‘back of house’ drug testing. Dublin: HSE National Social Inclusion Office.

PDF (Safer nightlife programme 2022: results from ‘back of house’ drug testing) - Published Version

External website: https://www.drugs.ie/features/feature/results_from...

The pilot programme initially took place at Electric Picnic between the 2nd and 4th September as part of the HSE ‘Safer Nightlife’ harm reduction campaign. The aim of the pilot was to access, test and identify substances in a festival setting, alert the public, harm reduction services and onsite medics to any dangerous substances and gain insights on drug trends.

The pilot involved people anonymously surrendering substances in HSE bins which were rapidly analysed by the HSE National Drug Treatment Centre Laboratory using an on-site temporary laboratory. 

In total, 46 samples of drugs were surrendered to the HSE over the 3 day period; which led to the HSE issuing three different risk communications relating to concerns around a particular MDMA product, high strength powders and crystals and the emergence of a new substance 3-CMC (a cathinone drug which can cause significant mental health problems).

Speaking about the report, Professor Eamon Keenan, National Clinical Lead: Addiction Services, said: “While this report represents a relatively small number of samples numerically, we must recognise the importance of this pilot project and our findings. “The pilot is a real example of cross sectoral collaboration, where all agencies agreed on the need to collaborate to identify emerging drug trends, with an aim of protecting the health of people attending the event.

Main findings

  • 46 samples submitted to the HSE for analysis 
  • 74% of samples identified on-site at event using FT-IR (n=34)
  • 17% of samples identified on further analysis in NDTC laboratory (n=8)
  • Drug content was identified in a total of 42 samples (91%) as part of pilot
  • 4 samples remain unconfirmed
  • 19 MDMA samples submitted (8 powders and 11 pills)
  • 5 MDMA powders tested as almost pure MDMA
  • ‘Ecstasy’ pills ranged from 36mg to 235mg of MDMA
  • 12 novel substances submitted- 7 tabs, 4 powders/crystals and 1 tablet
  • 3  new psychoactive substances identified not previously detected in Ireland (3-CMC, 5-MAPB, 4-HO-MiPT)
  • 3 risk communications issued relating to high strength MDMA and the emergence of 3-CMC in white crystals

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